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Fryer: O.C. teams pick up huge victories
It was as if Bruce Ingalls had visited a faith healer.
Walk, Coach Ingalls! You are healed!
Ingalls, in his 15th year coaching Laguna Hills football, is recovering from a second hip surgery. The first one he had in January did not heal properly. So he is getting around in a wheelchair these days and was seated in one during Friday’s home game against Dana Hills.
What he saw, when Laguna Hills players were not in his way, was the Hawks rallying from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Dana Hills, 31-27, in a mammoth Sea View League game.
During the postgame celebration, Ingalls arose from the wheelchair and walked to address the team as if a miracle comeback inspired another miracle. He might have felt like dancing, too. But doctor’s orders, you know.
The real medicine was this: Laguna Hills clinched at least a share of the league championship. But there could be a negative side-effect.
The Hawks did not clinch a CIF-Southern Section playoff berth, believe it or not. There exists the potential of a three-way tie for the league’s top spot, and a series of coin flips could drop Laguna Hills to being the league’s No. 3 playoff representative.
As only the top two finishers in a five-team league like the Sea View are guaranteed playoff berths, Laguna Hills at No. 3 would have to get one of the CIF-SS Southwest Division’s two at-large berths.
A committee selects the CIF-SS football at-large playoff teams next Saturday, the day after the regular season ends.
Dana Hills-Laguna Hills was one of many games Friday that sort of cleared up playoff possibilities in some leagues but just confused them more in many others.
Most teams play next week, the final week of the regular season. Laguna Hills is done. The Hawks, who are playing only nine games this year as sometimes happens, are 3-1 in the Sea View League.
Dana Hills is 2-1, and plays San Juan Hills next week. San Juan Hills is 1-2 after losing Friday to Capistrano Valley, which is 2-1. Aliso Niguel, 0-3, did not play Friday, and plays Capistrano Valley next week.
Servite probably is not going to the playoffs for the first time since 2004, the season before Troy Thomas left Crespi of Encino to become Friars coach. Servite had been at least a league co-champion every year since. The Friars’ 39-13 loss to St. John Bosco of Bellflower leaves Servite at 1-3 in league and 3-6 overall.
Servite cannot finish among the top three teams in the Trinity League. The top three Trinity finishers receive guaranteed entry into the CIF-Southern Section’s Pac-5 Division playoffs. The fourth-place team is eligible for one of the division’s two at-large berths, but even if Servite beats Mater Dei next week at Angel Stadium, the Friars’ 4-6 record likely would not make them an at-large choice by the committee that selects at-large teams.
And it has been since ’04 that a Mater Dei-Servite game meant so little.
Mater Dei got a big victory over Orange Lutheran, 32-21. The Monarchs are 3-1 in league and are on the way to the playoffs after missing out on postseason play last year for the first time since the 1980s. Santa Margarita beat JSerra to go to 3-1, too.
Lutheran is 2-2 in league. At 6-3 with a game next week against JSerra, the Lancers are in strong position for an at-large berth; they cannot be the Trinity’s No. 3 team because of losses to Santa Margarita and Mater Dei. Head-to-head results break ties.
Top-ranked Mission Viejo beat Trabuco Hills, 35-12. Trabuco had a 5-0 lead in the second quarter.
San Clemente posted perhaps the night’s biggest upset with a 29-21 comeback victory over Tesoro. Tesoro is No. 6 in the Orange County rankings. So, San Clemente’s first South Coast League victory has the Tritons at 1-2.
It was Tesoro’s final league game. The Titans are 1-3 and in fourth place. The top two finishers in a five-team league like the South Coast receive guaranteed playoff entry. The league’s No. 3 is eligible for an at-large berth, but the No. 4 almost certainly is done.
Another big upset was Huntington Beach’s 28-7 victory over Los Alamitos. Los Alamitos is No. 9 in the county rankings. Huntington Beach is 3-1 in league, as is Newport Harbor after its victory over Marina on Thursday.
Edison beat Fountain Valley, 21-3, in their big grudge match, the “Battle for the Bell.” Edison (4-0) plays Huntington Beach next week. An Edison victory in that game would give the Chargers the No. 1-seeded position in the Southwest Division playoffs, with Tustin the likely No. 2.
Corona del Mar clinched the Pacific Coast League championship with a 33-16 victory over Woodbridge. The Sea Kings probably clinched the No. 1 seeded position in the Southern Division playoffs, too.
Garden Grove clinched at least a portion of the Garden Grove League championship with a 38-0 victory over Rancho Alamitos.
So, yes, a lot was settled. But much remains to be determined next week, the final week of the regular season.
And we still might see some the craziness of “heads-or-tails” have the final say.