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Fryer's predictions: Four O.C. teams will win CIF-SS titles
You did your job. You made your decision.
Now it’s my turn.
Once again it’s time to predict which teams will win CIF-Southern Section football championships.
This new CIF-SS playoff system is sort of like a new cell phone. A couple of items don’t seem to work as well as they did in the older model. But once you mess around with it some, you discover some cool features.
One of those features is more Orange County schools are in good position to win a CIF-SS title. Last year, Orange County had teams in five of the 13 divisional playoff brackets. This year, there are O.C. teams in 12 of the 13 brackets (no county team is in the Division 6 bracket … “but there should have been,” say the folks at Division 6 school Newport Harbor).
A quick analysis of those 12 divisions with O.C. teams in them, with predictions for which teams make the semifinals and which teams win their divisions in these 16-team brackets ...
A quick look: Fifteen of the 16 teams in this division have been in the state top 25. The top four teams in the current CalHiSports.com California rankings are in this division: Mater Dei, Centennial of Corona, St. John Bosco and Mission Viejo. Best playoff division ever? Maybe.
Final four: Mater Dei; Mission Viejo; Centennial; St. John Bosco.
Champion: Mater Dei. The Monarchs have the skill and the competitive maturity to win this wicked division. Rams coach Jeff Fisher attends the final and tries to convince Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson to trade Monarchs quarterback JT Daniels to the Rams for Case Keenum.
A quick look: Before the season started, the thinking here was that it could be La Habra vs. San Clemente in the championship game. La Habra’s offense is not good enough to get to the semifinals. San Clemente would have to beat top-seeded Heritage of Menifee on the path to the semis, and a Heritage-San Clemente game would be a Heritage home game. Maybe Heritage is not in the Tritons’ way if underappreciated El Toro upsets Heritage in the first round. Or maybe San Clemente can knock out Heritage in the second round. Hmmm …
Final four: San Clemente; Valencia of Valencia; Oaks Christian; Murrieta Valley.
Champion: Murrieta Valley. Yes, I’ve got San Clemente getting through the Heritage-El Toro winner to get to the semifinals.
A quick look: La Mirada’s resume has wins over Orange Lutheran and San Clemente. That Los Alamitos-Villa Park game is great – we’re going with Villa Park in that one, and Buena Park over San Juan Hills in another splendid first-round matchup. Edison is giving its coach, Dave White, the effort and performance White deserves in his final season coaching the Chargers.
Final four: La Mirada; Villa Park; Cathedral; Edison.
Champion: La Mirada. Checking comparative scores … Edison lost to Mater Dei, 42-0; La Mirada lost to Mater Dei, 48-0. If White and his great defensive coordinator Rick Justice and company win this it would be, well, justice.
A quick look: Undefeated Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth is top-seeded in this division, but its resume is not impressive. What is the best team they’ve beaten, Paso Robles which is going to lose to La Mirada in the Division 3 first round? Division 8’s Grace Brethren of Simi Valley? Corona del Mar has a championship-caliber quarterback in Chase Garbers, but the Sea Kings might not be able to handle the team speed of Lompoc should they meet in the semifinals.
Final four: Sierra Canyon; Charter Oak of Covina; Corona del Mar; Lompoc.
Champion: Lompoc. The Braves have a great running back, Toa Taua, and a defense that has five shutouts.
A quick look: Undefeated Calabasas has a great quarterback, Nebraska-committed Tristan Gebbia, and a head coach who knows about the position, former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen. Calabasas is No. 12 in the state top 25, quite a salute to a Division 5 team. One of the many good O.C.-team-vs.O.C.-team first-round matchups is Foothill at Capistrano Valley. Capo’s quarterback, Kevin Brown, is darned good, too. A Capistrano Valley-Ventura game would be a Ventura home game, so advantage Ventura there.
Final four: Calabasas; La Quinta of La Quinta; Paloma Valley; Ventura.
Champion: Calabasas. The Coyotes might win it via some one-sided scores, too.
A quick look: Top-seeded Pacifica of Oxnard played a challenging nonleague schedule, with games against Calabasas, Moorpark and Newbury Park. That helps get a team ready for the playoffs. St. Margaret’s is in this division, which is quite a step forward from its longtime residence in much lower divisions. Maybe the Tartans can hang with this group. Optimism about Tustin is tempered by the loss to Valencia two weeks ago. The Tillers followed with the expected one-sided win over Western, 55-6, so maybe they learned a lesson.
Final four: Pacifica of Oxnard; Norte Vista of Riverside; Tustin; El Segundo.
Champion: Pacifica. Tritons quarterback Raul Sandoval gives his team the edge.
A quick look: El Modena and Yorba Linda are the best of the seven O.C. teams here. Laguna Hills has Logan Montgomery, a multi-purpose player who can make a lasting impact on a game in a variety of ways. Saddleback Valley Christian quarterback Cade Henjum could start, and thrive, at bigger schools.
Final four: El Modena; Yorba Linda; Don Lugo of Chino Hills Northview of Covina;
Champion: El Modena. The top-seeded Vanguards are tough, talented and well-coached.
A quick look: The top-seeded team in this division is Valley Christian of Cerritos. The Crusaders have two losses, one of them to St. Margaret’s by three points. The best O.C. team here is Cypress, which in the first round a team it beat in Week 0, Woodbridge. Cypress lost by a lot to Capistrano Valley, by three to Tustin and last week by two to red-hot Valencia.
Final four: Valley Christian; Notre Dame of Riverside; Mayfair of Lakewood; Cypress.
Champion: Mayfair. Mayfair finished second to La Mirada in the Suburban League, which was a good league this year.
A quick look: Pacifica has been up and down this season. The Mariners have been up lately, with one-sided wins over Cypress, Western and Kennedy to conclude the regular season. Aquinas of San Bernardino is Ambassador League co-champion, with Notre Dame of Riverside. Leuzinger of Lawndale is averaging 44 points a game.
Final four: Rubidoux; Dos Pueblos of Goleta; Leuzinger; Pacifica.
Champion: Leuzinger. The Olympians can outscore their way to the title.
A quick look: The two easiest picks, among Orange County teams, to win CIF-SS championships are El Modena and Katella because they look so much better than the other teams in their divisions. Knights quarterback Nathan Arrington has a fine arm and, at 5-10 and 215 pounds, is a tank when he runs with it; James Fatasia is one of the county’s top football athletes at receiver and defensive back, and Francisco Pineda is a first-down-making running back.
Final four: Katella; Arcadia; Montebello; Culver City.
A quick look: If fourth-seeded Segerstrom is healthy, the Jaguars can go far. But they were missing five starters in the loss to Santa Ana two weeks ago. Still, Segerstrom could make a push.
Final four: Arroyo of El Monte; Calvary Murrieta; Pacific of San Bernardino; Rancho Mirage.
Champion: Pacific. The Pirates’ only loss was to Division 10 top-seeded Rubidoux, by four points.
A quick look: Santa Ana is top-seeded in this division. The Saints looked great in their 42-6 win over Segerstrom two weeks ago and showed no letup in a 36-21 win over Westminster last week. Only five of the teams in the division’s top 10 made the playoffs. What a weird division.
Final four: Santa Ana; Boron; South El Monte; Rancho Christian of Temecula.
Champion: Santa Ana. If the Saints play Rancho Christian in the final, they better be at their best. Rancho Christian is coached by Jim Kunau, who when he was at Orange Lutheran lifted the Lancers from a good small-schools program to one of the better ones in California.
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