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Fryer: Week 8 starts to clear up playoff picture
Your Trinity League playoff teams in the CIF-Southern Section’s Pac-5 Division likely will be, in order, St. John Bosco, Mater Dei and Santa Margarita.
Results this week, Week 8 of the regular season with two weeks to go, strengthened the playoff possibilities of some teams and weakened the chances of others.
St. John Bosco beat Mater Dei, 27-19, in a Trinity League game Friday at Santa Ana Stadium. It was Bosco’s first victory at “The Bowl” since 2002, which was the most recent year the Braves won a league championship. They took the Serra League crown that year.
The Braves are 3-0 in league. Mater Dei is 2-1, as is Santa Margarita. Mater Dei beat Santa Margarita, so it would be ahead of Santa Margarita, if they finish with identical league records, and would be the league’s No. 2 playoff representative. Santa Margarita has victories over Orange Lutheran and Servite, who are 1-2, and JSerra is pretty much out of contention for a guaranteed berth with a 0-3 record.
Santa Margarita’s victory was career victory No. 250 for Eagles coach Harry Welch. It has been a bumpy road to 250 for Welch. Departing transfers and injured stars --- ace running back Ryan Wolpin could not play Friday – have made this season a lot more difficult than everyone thought it would be for Santa Margarita, a few months ago.
Mater Dei played the second half without standout receiver/linebacker Thomas Duarte. He took a helmet to the thigh in the first half. JSerra all-around star Casey Eugenio suffered a leg injury and could not play in the Lions’ loss to Servite.
These injuries sure make a difference. With two weeks left in the season, star players are needed as the playoffs approach.
The top three finishers in six-team leagues like the Trinity League, and in seven-team leagues like the Century and Empire leagues, receive guaranteed playoff berths. Teams that finish in the standings just below the final guaranteed slot can get into the playoffs as at-large teams.
There will be two at-large berths in the Pac-5 Division that includes the Marmonte, Moore, Serra, South Coast and Trinity Leagues. The Southwest Division --- Century, Empire, Freeway, Sea View and Sunset leagues --- will have two at-large berths. The Southern Division that has the Garden Grove, Golden West, Orange, Orange Coast and Pacific Coast leagues will offer one at-large berth.
So the Trinity League is fairly east to sort out. The Sea View League is nothing close to that.
Dana Hills is in first place, at 2-0, in the Sea View. The Dolphins did not play this week. Four league teams did: San Juan Hills beat Aliso Niguel; and Capistrano Valley beat Laguna Hills. Laguna Hills is 2-1, San Juan Hills is 1-1, Capistrano Valley is 1-1 and Aliso is 0-3. We will have to wait until next week’s games --- Dana Hills at Laguna Hills, and San Juan Hills at Capistrano Valley --- of this ultra-tight league to get a better idea of how it will shake out.
Newport Harbor took a big step toward securing a playoff berth in the Sunset League with a 20-17 victory over Huntington Beach. Edison will win the league. Second and third place are up for grabs.
Like Edison in the Sunset, Tustin is clearly the best team in its league, the Empire. The high-scoring Tiller had this week off, but there still was a big league game that featured a high-scoring winner. Yorba Linda hammered Cypress, 43-6, as quarterback Brandon Summers threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns and helped the Mustangs solidify their status as a playoff contender.
This week, we saw Segerstrom lose to Orange, knocking the Jaguars from the undefeated list. La Habra keeps winning, and looks like it will win another Freeway League championship. Garden Grove looks good in the Garden Grove League.
As for the rest? We will find out over the next two weeks.