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Fryer: Drama-filled week ends well for Tesoro

OCVARSITY.COM

LOS ALAMITOS - What a week for Tesoro football.

The Titans' coach, Brian Barnes, was ousted from the position, an ocvarsity.com posting of a video from the Tesoro-El Toro football game placed the school's program in an unflattering light, and it was revealed that the Capistrano Unified School District, to which Tesoro belongs, investigated a potential recruiting violation regarding Tesoro football possibly using school online courses as a way to illegally recruit athletes from the Inland Empire.

Tesoro concluded the regular season Friday with assistant coach John Hall in charge as the Titans played a nothing, nonleague game at Chula Vista, a game Tesoro won handily, 56-17. Tesoro's season looked to be over, with the Titans having lost their final three league games in order to El Toro, Mission Viejo and San Clemente, and the video that showed a Tesoro player's hard and perhaps excessive hit on an unsuspecting El Toro kicker on the Tesoro-El Toro game's opening kickoff led to some negative publicity.

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CIF-SS football brackets and analysis

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But Trabuco Hills beat San Clemente on Friday. That created a three-way tie for third place in the South Coast League among these teams that finished 1-3 in league – San Clemente, Tesoro and Trabuco Hills. With no way to break up the tie via head-to-head results, coin flips determined that Tesoro would be the league's No. 3 playoff representative, following No. 1 Mission Viejo and No. 2 El Toro.

The top two teams in a five-team league like the South Coast receive guaranteed playoff entry. As the league's No. 3, Tesoro applied for one of the Pac-5 Division's two at-large berths. Ten other schools applied, and of those, according to CIF-Southern Section assistant commissioner Glenn Martinez, in charge of the section's management of football, these five were the top candidates: JSerra (6-4) of the Trinity League; Newbury Park (6-4) from the Marmonte League; Long Beach Jordan (5-5) from the Moore League; Bishop Amat (7-2-1) from the Serra League; and Tesoro (7-3) from the South Coast.

To determine the at-large teams from that pool, the CIF-Southern Section uses a points system that incorporates head-to-head competition where applicable (four points); overall strength of league (one point); overall win-loss record (one); strength against common opponents where applicable (one); and strength of schedule (two).

Of the five top candidates, Tesoro had the most points with as many as four against others in the pool. Significantly helping Tesoro's cause was the CIF-SS Football Coaches Advisory Committee's ranking of Pac-5 leagues, which went this way: 1. Trinity; 2. South Coast; 3. Marmonte; 4. Serra; and 5. Moore.

So Tesoro was the first team awarded a Pac-5 at-large berth, and Bishop Amat got the other.

"Awarded" is an interesting word here. Tesoro plays a Pac-5 first-round away game against St. John Bosco of Bellflower. St. John Bosco went 5-0 in the Trinity League. Bosco, No. 5 in the state rankings, was 10-0 on the field; its 6-4 record includes four early-season forfeits for using an ineligible player.

It sometimes happens that a league champion is not in the playoffs. It happened this year, to Dana Hills.

The Dolphins finished in a three-way tie, with Capistrano Valley and Laguna Hills, for first place in the Sea View League. Coin flips placed Capistrano Valley as the league's No. 1 team, Laguna Hills as its No. 2 and Dana Hills at No. 3. As the Sea View is a five-team league that has only two guaranteed playoff berths in the Southwest Division, Dana Hills (4-6) could only qualify as an at-large team.

The Southwest Division's two at-large berths went to Esperanza (6-4, No. 4 in the Century League) and Los Alamitos (6-4, No 4. in the Sunset League).

Teams used to be required to have an overall record of .500 or better to be eligible for at-large consideration. That requirement was eliminated this season. Thus, Beckman at 3-7 and coming off of a 33-7 loss to Corona del Mar, received the Southern Division's at-large berth.

County teams are in six of the CIF-Southern Section's 13 11-man playoff divisions. The Southwest and Southern divisions comprise only Orange County teams.

Of the many county team vs. county team matchups in the first round, these two on Friday stand out: Santa Margarita vs. El Toro at Trabuco Hills High in the Pac-5 Division; and Los Alamitos at La Habra in the Southwest.

Two county teams are seeded No. 1 in their division, Edison (9-1) in the Southwest Division and Corona del Mar (8-2) in the Southern.

It could have been expected that Mission Viejo (10-0) would be seeded No. 1 in the Pac-5 Division, but that designation went to St. Bonaventure of Ventura. Mission Viejo, which concluded the season with a resounding 49-7 victory over previously undefeated El Toro, is No. 2. St. Bonaventure is 9-1, with that loss to Santa Margarita back in September when Santa Margarita was hot and healthy.

Mission Viejo and St. Bonaventure have a common opponent, Redlands East Valley. Both beat Redlands East Valley, but Mission Viejo's victory was more impressive, 52-21 compared to St. Bonaventure's 18-7 victory.

Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson does not mind.

"Being No. 1 or 2 is an honor," Johnson said.

Just being in the playoffs is an honor, an honor that Tesoro really needs these days.


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