Carson won the last of its nine City Section football titles in 1993.
But the Colts, under first-year Coach John Aguirre, have a chance to return to glory as the top-seeded team in the section's Championship Division playoffs that begin with first-round games today.
Carson (8-2), which plays host to Sunset Six League co-champion North Hollywood (5-5) this afternoon, went unbeaten in the Marine League. The Colts' losses came against Diamond Bar, the defending champion and top-seeded team in Southern Section Division II, and third-seeded Crenshaw.
Still, the City title is thought to be up for grabs.
Consider: Carson shut out fourth-seeded Westchester (9-1), Westchester defeated Crenshaw (8-2) and Crenshaw defeated Carson.
"It's wide open," said San Pedro Coach Mike Walsh, whose team gained one of two available at-large berths. "Crenshaw, Carson and Dorsey are pretty good, Westchester is tough, we can do some things, and who knows what can happen if some of the passing teams like Granada Hills and Taft get on a roll."
Franklin (10-0) is the second-seeded team after winning the Northern League. The Panthers play Sunset Six co-champion Canoga Park (6-4) tonight.
"The Northern League is not the strongest league, but it is by no means the weakest," Franklin Coach Armando Gonzalez said. "Last year we beat Carson and we took Dorsey to the wire. We can play with the big schools.
"Carson and Crenshaw are probably the favorites [this year], but don't underestimate Franklin."
After this season's playoff-seeding debacle, no City coach will underestimate the value of winning a league title. The problem arose when, after realigning from six conferences to eight leagues, four league races ended in ties, including three-way ties in the Valley Mission League and West Valley League.
The Interscholastic Athletic Committee decided that all league champions, regardless of ties, would be included in the 16-team City Championship playoffs. That meant Palisades (8-2), which lost only to Reseda Cleveland in its opener and to Western League champion Westchester, was left out. So was Wilmington Banning (5-4), the 1998 Championship Division runner-up that finished third in the Marine League and played one of the toughest schedules in the state. On the bright side, for fans anyway, is a potential Invitational championship game at the Coliseum featuring two of the Southland's best, Banning running back Chris Howard and Palisades receiver Geoff McArthur.
CITY SECTION PAIRINGS, Page 17