Despite canceled games and the ever-fluctuating team rosters caused by the continued COVID-19 pandemic, the City and Southern sections did get in a full fall season of football. And now the playoffs are here to determine their championships.
Fans may roll their eyes at the overall records of some teams, especially if that team is seeded higher than theirs. But strength of schedule can be more of a determining factor than wins and losses in the power rankings provided by CalPreps, whose listings help guide the section seeding committees in making their selections. A different factor this year can also be those teams who don’t have enough healthy and eligible players to meet the minimum roster total of 18.
The eight-team Open playoff begins on Nov. 12, and Birmingham Charter High (5-5) — the West Valley League champions — is the Valley’s lone representative in this division. The Patriots, who won the 2019 title, are seeded fifth and travel to Los Angeles to play host Lincoln High (10-0), the Northern League champion who is seeded fourth.
The Open Division will feature the best the City can offer. Banning High of Wilmington (7-1), the Marine League champion, is the top seed and will host a Garfield High of Los Angeles team (8-2) that is seeded eighth. The Bulldogs stumbled down the stretch, losing two of their last three games, but are certainly capable of being a tough out for the Pilots.
San Pedro High (8-1), which finished second to Banning in league, is a strong second seed. The Pirates host a Roosevelt High of Los Angeles team (7-3) seeded seventh. The Rough Riders will have come down from the emotional high of beating Garfield in the annual East LA Classic rivalry game on Oct. 29 by this time, and should be focused on this contest.
But Palisades Charter High of Pacific Palisades is probably the team to watch. The undefeated Dolphins (10-0), Western League champions, have played consistent, imposing football since the season began in August. They will host the South Gate High Rams (8-1), Eastern League champions, who are seeded sixth.
The other three division playoffs begin on Friday, Nov. 5. And they peppered with some potentially salty head-to-head matchups between Valley schools.
In Division I, Reseda Charter High (7-2), the Valley Mission League champion and seeded third, hosts Granada Hills Charter High (4-5), which is seeded 14th. They are the only teams in this division playing locally.
Kennedy High (8-2) seeded 15th, travels to Venice High, seeded second. Canoga Park High (5-4), seeded 13th, goes on the road to play Franklin High of Los Angeles (8-2), seeded fourth. Arleta (8-2), the East Valley League champion, is seeded 12th and faces host Carson High (3-4), seeded fifth. Cleveland Charter High (5-2) is seeded ninth and will play host team Huntington Park High (6-4), seeded eighth.
Chatsworth Charter High (6-4), seeded 16th, has the unenviable task of taking on a red-hot Dorsey High of Los Angeles team (8-2), the Coliseum League champion and top seed, at its home field.
In Division II, El Camino Real Charter High (2-7) is the top seed in spite of its overall record and will host Chavez Learning Academies (4-5), the 16th seed. Verdugo Hills High (6-4) is seeded sixth and will entertain Marquez High of Huntington Park (5-4), seeded 11th.
Meanwhile, North Hollywood High (4-6), seeded 15th, will face host Fairfax High of Los Angeles (3-5), seeded second; and Grant High (4-6), seeded 13th, faces host Los Angeles Westchester High (2-7), seeded fourth.
In Division III, Taft Charter High (3-7) is the top seed and opens the playoffs at home against Los Angeles High (3-6), seeded 16th. San Fernando High (2-6) is seeded second, and hosts Marquez High of Los Angeles (5-4), seeded 15th.
Panorama High (5-5) is the third seed and will host Poly High (2-8), seeded 14th. Sylmar High (3-7), seeded sixth, will also be at home on Friday against Washington Prep High of Los Angeles (3-2), seeded 11th.
Monroe High (2-6), seeded 12th, travels to Los Angeles to play Manual Arts High (4-6), seeded fifth.
The section’s Division I final is considered a foregone conclusion. Mater Dei High of Santa Ana (8-0) and St. John Bosco of Bellflower (9-1) are the top two teams in the Trinity League, and two of the top teams in the state. They are both are expected to reach the title game. No Valley area team is among the eight listed in the bracket — which may be a good thing.
But there are other division brackets, which begin play on Friday, where area teams found some excellent landing spots.
In Division II, Mission League champion Alemany High (5-3), is the top seed and will host Bishop Diego High of Santa Barbara (8-1), seeded 16th. Sierra Canyon (5-4), Gold Coast League champion, seeded second, faces JSerra Catholic High of San Juan Capistrano (3-7), the 15th seed.
In Division III, Chaminade (5-4), seeded 11th, gets a second shot at league rival Serra High of Gardena. The Cavaliers (5-4), seeded sixth, beat the Eagles at home back on Oct. 8.
In Division V, unbeaten St. Genevieve High (9-0), the Camino Real League champion was seeded 13th and will travel to Chino Hills High to play the Huskies (5-5), seeded fourth.
Unbeaten Campbell Hall (10-0) is seeded sixth and will host Santa Barbara (7-3), seeded 11th, in a Division VI contest.
A Division XI matchup takes place between top seed Village Christian High (8-1) and visiting Cantwell – Sacred Heart High of Montebello, seeded 16th.
In Division XII, Harvard-Westlake High (5-5) is seeded fifth and will host Tahquitz High of Hemet, seeded 12th. And in Division XIII, Heritage Christian (4-5), is seeded second and will host Basset High of La Puente (5-4), seeded 15th.