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PREP FOOTBALL / SOUTHERN SECTION PAIRINGS : Three Unbeaten Teams Top Division I Field for Playoffs


La Puente Bishop Amat High opens the Southern Section Division I playoffs Friday night as the top-seeded team, but it will have a difficult time maintaining its perfect record.

The 16-team Division I field, announced with the section's other 10 divisions Sunday, is one of the most balanced in years. It includes two other 10-0 teams--second-seeded Santa Ana Mater Dei and third-seeded Los Alamitos.

Long Beach Jordan (7-3) is seeded fourth after winning a three-way tiebreaker with Long Beach Poly (9-1) and Lakewood (6-4) for the Moore League title.

Several unseeded teams could also challenge for the title, including Loyola (7-2), Anaheim Esperanza (7-3) and Fontana (7-3). Esperanza appeared to have received a favorable draw, but there is a strong possibility of meeting Bishop Amat, The Times' top-ranked team all season, in the semifinals.

"We might have to play Mater Dei in the second round, that's the kind of year it is," said Loyola Coach Steve Grady. "This division is loaded."

Noticeably absent is Santa Fe Springs St. Paul, a 7-3 team rated No. 9 in the Southland by The Times last week. The Swordsmen finished fifth in the Del Rey League, which sent its top four teams to the playoffs.

"You look at the bracket and wonder what happened to St. Paul?" said Bill Clark, Southern Section associate commissioner in charge of the football playoffs. "But we can't take a fifth-place team. That's a tough break."

The playoffs begin Friday and continue with the quarterfinals Nov. 25, the semifinals Dec. 2-3 and the finals Dec. 9-10.

Clark announced Sunday that the Division I championship will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Cerritos College, instead of its usual Friday night slot at Anaheim Stadium. It will be televised by Channel 13, KCOP-TV.

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