Myron Gibford is as baffled by his Chatsworth High football team as anyone.
The Chatsworth defense yields freely to most opponents. Only three Valley City Section teams allow more yards per game than Chatsworth, which surrenders 249.3.
The Chatsworth offense seems allergic to the end zone. Again, only three Valley City teams average fewer yards than Chatsworth's 176.4 a game.
Still, as the Chancellors head into the last game of the regular season, they have the inside track to the Sunset League championship, which would allow them to enter the City 3-A playoffs as the league's No. 1 representative.
Chatsworth (5-3, 3-1) needs a win at Van Nuys (3-4-1, 1-3) on Friday night to clinch the Sunset title. The winner of Friday's game between Taft (6-2, 3-1) and Canoga Park (6-2, 3-1) shares the championship, but Chatsworth has defeated both teams and would earn the league's No. 1 slot in the playoffs, which begin Dec. 5.
So what does Gibford make of this team?
"You tell me and we'll both know," he said.
The pivotal play of the season for Chatsworth occurred three weeks ago in a 7-3 upset of Canoga Park.
Mike Conover's 31-yard field goal had given Canoga Park a 3-0 lead in the second quarter when Bryan Addison, who not only returns kicks but plays quarterback, running back and defensive back, took the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for the winning touchdown.
That play might have rescued Chatsworth's season. The Chancellors had opened league play the week before with a discouraging 22-6 defeat to Birmingham to fall to 2-3 on the season.
Gibford has yet to breathe easily despite three wins in a row. A defeat could plunge the Chancellors into a three-way tie for second--if Birmingham (4-4, 2-2) defeats Monroe (3-4, 0-4) as expected. Only two league teams automatically advance to the playoffs. A third team may be forced to win a California tiebreaker Monday with one or more 3-A teams to earn a playoff berth.
A look at the other City divisions:
4-A: Granada Hills (5-3, 3-0) has clinched the Valley 4-A League title regardless of the outcome of Friday's home game with Kennedy (1-5-1, 0-2-1). Granada Hills will play the Pacific League's fourth-place entry, which will be decided after Friday's games break a four-way tie for second place between Banning (5-3, 2-2), Dorsey (5-3, 2-2) Gardena (5-3, 2-2) and Crenshaw (3-5, 2-2).
San Fernando (6-1-1, 2-1-1), which has a bye this week, is the Valley 4-A's second-place entry, and Cleveland (3-5, 1-2) will clinch third place with a win over El Camino Real (0-6-2, 0-1-2). Although El Camino Real has not won a game since 1985, the Conquistadores will advance to the playoffs if Kennedy loses to Granada Hills. They would win the dubious honor of playing Carson (8-0, 4-0), the Pacific League and defending 4-A champion.
3-A: The winner of the Taft-Canoga Park game and Chatsworth--if the Chancellors beat Van Nuys--join Franklin (6-1, 4-0) and San Pedro (6-2, 4-0) of the Freeway League as automatic entries in the playoffs. Palisades (6-2, 4-0) has clinched the Crosstown League title, but second place remains a jumble among Washington (4-2-2, 2-1-1), Fairfax (2-6, 2-2) and Hamilton (2-6, 2-2).
Two other teams from the division's three leagues will be selected to round out the eight-team format. Overall records do not count. League standing, league record and head-to-head competition form the criteria. For the final playoff berth, City officials throw out head-to-head competition and use the California tiebreaker.
2-A: Three teams from the Pac 8 will advance to the playoffs, and the Northern and Eastern leagues share the other five berths. Reseda (7-0, 6-0), the defending 2-A champion, already has qualified, and Westchester (6-2, 4-2) need only beat Venice (1-6, 0-6) to advance.
University (5-3, 4-2) can clinch third place with a win Friday, but Sylmar (4-3-1, 3-3) can force a three-way tie for third with University and the winner of the game between North Hollywood (5-3, 3-3) and Grant (4-4, 3-3) by upsetting University. A Sylmar victory probably would force a California tiebreaker Monday.