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SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS : There's a Little for All--Almost : Seedings: Mission Viejo faces top-ranked Bishop Amat. Western faces Servite; Mater Dei plays Redlands.


CERRITOS — Irvine was out, Western was in, Mission Viejo got the big dog, and Newport Harbor got what it deserved.

The Southern Section playoffs now has a structure, and the common theme bandied about at section headquarters Sunday was, "If you're going to win, you have to beat the best anyway."

Such is seeding day.

Newport Harbor and Orange Lutheran were the county's only top-seeded teams.

Irvine (4-5-1), a three-time defending champion, didn't qualify to be a potential at-large team in Division V because its record was less than .500. The non-league teams it lost to? Anaheim (6-3-1), Mater Dei (10-0) and Moreno Valley Canyon Springs (9-1), which have a combined record of 25-4-1.

That opened the door for Western (7-2-1) to move in as the at-large team, a berth that usually goes to the fourth-place Sea View League team. Western opens against No. 3 Servite (8-2), which is expected to meet No. 2 Savanna in one semifinal. Savanna (8-2) opens against El Toro (5-4-1), which tied with Irvine for third place in its league but had the good fortune to win a coin flip.

And of course, whichever team wins that lower semifinal in Division V is expected to play top-seeded Newport Harbor (10-0), one of three unbeaten teams in Orange County. The Sailors open against Saddleback (4-6). The No. 4 team is Foothill (6-4), which opens against Kennedy (7-3).

Mission Viejo (4-6), the third-place team from the South Coast League, drew the honor--or misfortune--of opening the playoffs against La Puente Bishop Amat (10-0), the top-ranked team in the section, the state and the nation, according to various polls.

Bishop Amat, the 1992 champion, was a bust last year (seeded No. 1, beaten in the second round) but is expected to face the winner of the anticipated Los Alamitos-Mater Dei semifinal on the other side of the bracket.

Second-seeded Mater Dei (10-0) opens with Redlands (5-5), and third-seeded Los Alamitos (the defending Division II champion) opens against at-large entry Bellflower St. John Bosco (5-5) at Cerritos Gahr High.

Trabuco Hills (8-2), the defending Division VIII champion, is in Division I for the first time and plays host to Esperanza (7-3); the winner probably will play No. 4 Long Beach Jordan (7-3).

The Garden Grove League's top two teams were given little respect in Division VII; if league champion Rancho Alamitos (7-2-1) beats Pomona Ganesha (5-4), it probably plays top-seeded Culver City (9-1); if Los Amigos (9-1) beats South Hills (8-2), it probably will play second-seeded Mira Costa (9-1).

Given a little more respect was Freeway champion Sunny Hills (4-6), which plays Garden Grove (4-6); the winner probably faces third-seeded Lompoc (9-1). The league's No. 2 entry, Fullerton (6-4), opens at fourth-seeded Arroyo Grande (8-1), the Northern League's No. 2 entry. Buena Park (4-6) plays No. 2 Mira Costa (9-1), whereas Sonora (6-4), one of four teams tied for first in the Freeway league, lost an at-large bid to South Torrance (6-4).

In Division VIII, Pacific Coast League champion Laguna Hills (8-2) is No. 3 and plays host to at-large Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon (6-4). Costa Mesa (7-2-1) plays at Riverside Norte Vista (6-4) but could have a second-round home game against fourth-seeded San Marino (8-2) should both win. University (4-5-1) plays at No. 1 La Mirada (10-0).

Orange Lutheran (8-2) is the top-seeded team in Division X and plays host to defending champion Los Angeles Baptist (3-7) at Brea-Olinda High. Calvary Chapel (6-4) failed to receive an at-large bid, losing out to free-lance entry Montclair Prep (7-1).

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