Undefeated Banning High, the top-ranked team in the state, will open defense of its Los Angeles City 4-A title Friday as City and CIF football playoffs get under way.
Banning, 9-0, is coming off an impressive 37-10 victory over rival Carson and is top-seeded in the City. The Pilots will play host to San Fernando (2-7) at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.
Carson (8-1), seeded third and smarting from its loss to the Pilots, plays Cleveland (7-2) at Gardena High. Gardena (2-7), which won a tiebreaker Monday to qualify as the Pacific League's fourth-place team, plays at Granada Hills (8-0-1), the City's second seed.
In a 3-A City playoff opener, Locke (4-4-1) plays at Palisades (5-3-1).
There are eight CIF playoff openers, plus an Eight-Man Conference semifinal, involving South Bay teams.
In the Southern Conference, Hawthorne (7-3) opens at Paramount (9-1).
Coastal Conference openers have Palos Verdes (5-5) against Palmdale (6-4) at Torrance High, Pasadena (6-3) at West Torrance (6-4) and South Torrance (7-3) at Channel Islands (7-2-1), one of the longer road trips in the CIF.
In the Northwestern Conference, Miraleste (6-3-1) is at unbeaten Temple City (10-0), Serra (6-4) plays host to Schurr (6-4), Redondo (8-2) is at home against Murphy (6-3-1) and Leuzinger (6-3-1) plays Verbum Dei (8-1-1) at Jackie Robinson Stadium in what should be one of the best opening match-ups.
All the games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Chadwick (8-0) plays host to Masada (6-2) at 2 p.m. Friday in the large-division semifinals of the Eight-Man Conference.
Banning is gunning for its ninth City title in 11 years. The Pilots' victory over Carson was even more impressive in light of the fact it was accomplished without the Pilots' best offensive player, Archie Jean, hobbled by a knee injury.
Quarterback Ed Kapu leads the option attack and capped a 5-for-8 passing game with an 89-yard touchdown pass against the Colts.
The defense, meanwhile, has allowed only 38 points, giving credence to Coach Chris Ferragamo's claim that his starting 11 constitute the best prep defense in America.
Carson is hoping for a rematch with the Pilots in the City finals Dec. 13. The Colts are also hoping for a reversal of last season, when Banning lost to them in the regular season but won in the playoffs. No team other than Carson and Banning has won the City 4-A title since 1975.
Miraleste, which had a fine preleague record of 4-0-1 but ran into bad luck in the Pioneer League, has the unenviable opening draw. Temple City is one of only 11 unbeaten, untied teams in the playoffs and has a superior ground attack. Miraleste, which was picked as an at-large team, lost quarterback Todd Hollingshead early in league play and had to struggle to go 2-2-1 in the tough league. Running back Mike Silane is nearly the entire offense, having rushed for 14 touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards.
Temple City, meanwhile, has allowed only 80 points and has registered four shutouts. Though defense-minded, Temple City has two big running backs in junior Mike Mooney and Kevin Moore, both 200-pounders. Along with option quarterback Tim Vance, the backfield has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards.
West Torrance will also be hard-pressed against Pasadena, despite their relatively even records. Pasadena has two of the CIF's speediest runners in Anthony Wallace and W. C. Morrison. Wallace is especially dangerous, having rushed for 1,360 yards, 17 touchdowns and an average carry of 10 yards. The Bulldogs will test a West team that has trouble with faster offenses.
The Leuzinger-Verbum Dei game brings together similar, speedy teams that favor ground attacks and big plays. Juniors Craig Manigo at quarterback and Anthony Jefferson at flanker are Leuzinger's key performers.
South Torrance is another run-oriented team, featuring tailback Steve Kujawa, who has 21 touchdowns, and a large line that will try to wear down Channel Islands--if the bus ride doesn't wear South down first.
Redondo, on the other hand, is led by the passing of Scott Yessner to Mike Stone (10 touchdowns) and could be in for an aerial battle. Resurgent Murphy upset Serra last week and counts on the passing of Renato Velasquez to Scott Roges and Billy Christen and the running of Terence Kendricks.