There was a good reason for El Dorado players to celebrate on Sunday, as their team received a spot in the CIF-SS playoffs. In the photo, Josh Manassero, middle, celebrates with teammate Nicholas Jimenez, left, after intercepting a pass against Fullerton on Sept. 11.

El Dorado (1-9) given playoff spot; JSerra, Servite left out


LOS ALAMITOS – El Dorado lost every game, several by huge margins.

El Dorado won a playoff berth.

When the CIF-Southern Section released its football playoff brackets Sunday, there was El Dorado among the 16 teams in the Southern Division.

El Dorado got one of the division’s two at-large berths. If a team does not finish high enough in its final league standings to automatically qualify for the playoffs it can apply for at-large berth consideration. The Golden Hawks’ application was successful.

El Dorado coach Zack La Monda expressed no regrets Sunday at the CIF-SS office where coaches gathered to get their first look at the playoff brackets and take care of playoff business, such as getting playoff tickets and arranging to exchange game film with opponents.

“My job is to make sure the kids have a chance,” La Monda said, “whether it's what’s happening on the field or what’s happening off the field.”

El Dorado plays at top-seeded and defending champion Garden Grove (8-2).

The Golden Hawks were 0-10 on the field but 1-9 in the standings after their 49-14 loss to Canyon was overturned by forfeit. Canyon had used a 14-year-old player who did receive the medical clearance required before a player under 15 can play varsity football.

Technically, Canyon is the fourth-place team in the four-team North Hills league. The league submitted Canyon as its No. 3 playoff representative, which is within the league’s rights, and El Dorado as its No. 4.

The formula used to select at-large teams favored Canyon and El Dorado, which got both of the Southern Division’s at-large berths. The North Hills League was evaluated to be the best league in the division, giving Canyon and El Dorado one point each via the formula.

Canyon and El Dorado also got two points each when their strength of schedules were compared to those of the other Southern Divsion at-large applicants – Costa Mesa, La Quinta, Magnolia and Ocean View. Strength of schedule in at-large berth selection goes strictly by overall records of opponents. The cumulative records of Canyon’s and El Dorado’s opponents were the only ones over .500 in the pool of Southern Division at-large candidates.

That formula did not work for JSerra and Servite, submitted as the Nos. 4 and 5 teams, respectively, from the Trinity League. Westlake of Westlake Village and Chaminade of West Hills got the Pac-5 Division’s two at-large berths.

The deciding factor in the formula for Westlake, the No. 3 team from the four-team Marmonte League, was superior strength of schedule compared to JSerra. Westlake’s opponents are 64-37, JSerra’s 56-44.

Strength of schedule also got Chaminade in ahead of JSerra. Chaminade’s opponents are 63-37.

Orange Lutheran won a three-way coin flip with JSerra and Servite that decided which would be the league’s No. 3 playoff representative. Orange Lutheran plays at St. Bonaventure of Ventura in the Pac-5 first round. The other Orange County Trinity League team in the Pac-5 Division, Mater Dei, plays a first-round home game against Lakewood.

South Coast League teams El Toro and San Juan Hills got the West Valley Division’s two at-large berths. The Southwest Division’s three at-large berths went to Sunny Hills and Troy of the Freeway League and defending division champion Trabuco Hills of the Sea View League. East Valley Division defending champion St. Margaret’s got an at-large spot in that division.

First round games are Friday at 7:30 p.m. Kickoffs could be changed to 7 p.m. if the change is supported by both teams and approved by the CIF-SS office.

Mission Viejo is top seeded in the West Valley Division. The Diablos won the West Valley Division championship game last year, part of the 22-game winning streak they take into this year’s playoffs.

La Habra is seeded No. 1 in the Southwest Division.

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