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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Grant's General Ready for Sylmar Battle

City Section football seedings: Foster knew that winning league would mean a tough playoff opponent.

November 11, 2000|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There's got to be a morning after, someone once sang. Bill Foster knows the feeling.

His Grant High football team won the Sunset Six League championship Thursday with a 28-27 victory over North Hollywood. It was a great moment for the Lancers, who had not won a title since 1989.

But along with the crown came an automatic berth in the City Championship playoffs, a 16-team tournament populated primarily by teams much stronger than Grant.

And who did the Lancers (7-3) draw in the first round? None other than Sylmar (10-0), a traditional power that made an annual habit of pounding Grant until releaguing mercifully ended the rivalry last season.

"We talked about it weeks ago and decided we wanted that league title," Grant Coach Bill Foster said. "We knew it meant we would play somebody formidable in the playoffs, but we decided that when the time comes, we'll put on our uniforms and take the field."

Sylmar, the Valley Mission League champion, is seeded No. 2 behind Crenshaw (10-0). Spartan Coach Jeff Engilman did not appear distraught at drawing Grant.

"I think that's neat," he said. "I know Bill Foster very well. It's nice that they don't have to travel very far because I've been in that boat before."

Twelve of the 17 City schools in the Valley advanced to the playoffs--six in the 16-team Championship and six in the second-tier 16-team City Invitational.

Birmingham (9-1), Kennedy (8-1-1) and Taft (8-2) are seeded Nos. 5-7 and will open at home. Birmingham, which blew a chance to be one of the top four seeded teams when it lost to Chatsworth on Thursday, must play Palisades (8-2), whose quarterback, David Koral, has passed for 3,976 yards and 43 touchdowns.

Kennedy will host Banning (4-6), which played a murderous schedule and might be better than its record.

"I think that was a fair seed for us," Kennedy Coach Bob Francola said. "We've seen Banning on film. They're big and athletic and they're battle-tested. I'm glad we're at home. At least we won't have that long ride on the freeway to worry about."

Francola, who was on the panel that selected the playoff pairings, believes the sleeper could be Taft, which opens against Northern League champion Marshall (9-1).

"Taft has quietly built an 8-2 record," he said. "I know Birmingham beat them but they're very explosive and [Coach Troy Starr] knows how to get his teams up for the playoffs."

Co-coach Tom Harp of Granada Hills (7-3) wasn't happy about the Highlanders being seeded No. 14 and playing No. 3 Westchester (8-2). He took issue with the fact that they were seeded behind Jefferson, which Granada Hills defeated, 28-14, in a nonleague game.

"I realize seeding is a tough thing to do," he said. "But you'd think there would be consideration when you beat a team during the season.

"But you have to take whatever comes along and I can promise we'll show up ready to play."

Coach Bill Paden of Cleveland wasn't disappointed despite his team being placed in the City Invitational as the No. 4-seeded team.

"A few weeks ago I would've been upset, but not at this point. I think we're probably right where we should be."

San Fernando (5-5), North Hollywood (5-5), Canoga Park (7-3), Chatsworth (2-8) and Van Nuys (2-8) are also Invitational teams.

*

Correspondent Mitch Polin contributed to this story.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Championship Division

All Games Thursday

South Gate (Eastern No. 1, 5-4-1) at Crenshaw (Coliseum No. 1, 10-0); Marshall (Northern No. 1, 9-1) at Taft (West Valley No. 2, 8-2); Palisades (Western No. 2, 8-2) at Birmingham (West Valley No. 1, 9-1); Dorsey (Coliseum No. 3, 7-3) at Carson (Marine No. 1, 7-3).

Granada Hills (West Valley No. 3, 7-3) at Westchester (Western No. 1, 8-2); Banning (Marine League No. 3, 4-6) at Kennedy (Valley Mission No. 2, 8-1-1); Jefferson (Coliseum No. 2, 7-3) at San Pedro (Marine No. 2, 7-3); Grant (Sunset No. 1, 7-3) at Sylmar (Valley Mission No. 1, 10-0).

Seeded teams: 1. Crenshaw; 2. Sylmar; 3. Westchester; 4. Carson.

Invitational Division

All Games Thursday

Bell (Eastern No. 3, 3-7) at Gardena (Marine No. 4, 6-4); San Fernando (Valley Mission No. 3, 5-5) at Eagle Rock (Northern No. 3, 6-4); Chatsworth (West Valley No. 5, 3-7) at Venice (Western No. 3, 6-3); Narbonne (Marine No. 5, 5-5) at Cleveland (West Valley No. 4, 6-4).

Canoga Park (Sunset No. 3, 7-3) at Franklin (Northern No. 2, 7-3); Fremont (Coliseum No. 5, 5-5) at North Hollywood (Sunset No. 2, 5-5); Belmont (Northern No. 4, 6-4) at Locke (Coliseum No. 4, 4-6); Van Nuys (Valley Mission No. 4, 2-8) at Roosevelt (Eastern No. 2, 7-3).

Seeded teams: 1. Gardena; 2. Roosevelt; 3. Franklin; 4. Cleveland.

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