Crosstown League champion Palisades (7-2) will play host to Locke (6-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Westside's top game of the first round of the City football playoffs.
The Dolphins, 5-0 against 3-A Crosstown competition, were spurred to their best season in years by the record-setting passing of Perry Klein. Locke, which finished third in the Freeway League behind Franklin and San Pedro, is paced by quarterback Darian Hagan, regarded by some recruiters as the nation's best prep option quarterback.
Six other Westside teams will play in Friday's first round. All games start at 7:30 p.m.
In 4-A, Dorsey (6-3), the Pacific League's third-place team, is at San Fernando (6-1-1), the Valley League's No. 2 squad, and Crenshaw (3-6) is at Valley League champion Granada Hills (6-3). Crenshaw and Gardena tied for fourth place in the Pacific League, and the Cougars advanced by topping Gardena in a tie-breaker.
Hamilton and Fairfax, both 3-6 overall, and tied for second place in the Crosstown League, are the other local teams in the 3-A playoffs. The Yankees will meet Franklin (7-1), which lost a non-league game to Taft, at Wilson High School. Fairfax will be at Chatsworth (6-3), the Sunset League champion.
At the 2-A level, the Westside teams in the hunt are Westchester (7-2), which finished second in the Pac-8 League, and University (6-3), the No. 3 Pac-8 team. Westchester will play Northern League champion Eagle Rock at Glendale High, and University draws Eastern League titlist Roosevelt (6-1-1).
Although many of Klein's completions were on shovel passes, the junior quarterback still had a great regular season. In nine games he completed 237 of 371 attempts (63.9%) for 3,011 yards and 27 touchdowns.
His leading receivers were Harold Champion (60 catches for 1,095 yards, 9 touchdowns), Robert Scott (60 for 681 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Louis Randall (50 for 398, 8).
Palisades Coach Jack Epstein said that Locke's Hagan "can throw the ball very well and really run as well" and that he thinks Locke will be trying to avenge last year's first-round playoff loss to the Dolphins.
Epstein said his Dolphins will have to be "at the top of our game" to win Friday night because the Saints are a very fast team and also have much bigger offensive linemen.
He also may not have the services of one of his best two-way lineman: 5-10, 185-pound senior Willie Bolton, who has a knee problem and probably won't play. If Bolton can't go, he will be replaced on defense by senior Kampala Manuel (5-7, 185), who has alternated with Bolton this season, and on offense by senior Dion Beckton (5-10, 220), a starting defensive tackle.
Against common opponents, Palisades and Locke have fared about the same, except for Washington. The Generals gave the Dolphins their toughest league test before losing, 14-8. Locke defeated Washington, 43-25.
Palisades defeated Fairfax, 22-8, and the Saints beat the Lions, 26-13. Against Jordan, the Dolphins won, 41-12, and Locke was a 33-14 winner.