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Birmingham Is Top Seed in Football

November 11, 2001|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Van Nuys Birmingham, which won its only City Section football championship in 1963, parlayed a 9-0 regular-season record and West Valley League title into a top seeding for the playoffs.

"This is a great challenge for us," Birmingham Coach Ed Croson said after the selection committee tabbed the Patriots No. 1 during a meeting Saturday at Manual Arts High. "If you want to get to the top, you have to beat the best."

Los Angeles Crenshaw (8-0), the Coliseum League champion, is seeded second, Marine League champion Carson (8-1) third and Western League champion Westchester (8-1) fourth in the City Championship division for teams rated 1-16.

Coach Larry Wein of Westchester, which just handed Southern Section Division VI power Newport Beach Newport Harbor its only loss, 26-22, wasn't happy with his team's seeding. "I'd like to know who in the City Section wouldn't have a loss if they played Long Beach Poly?" he asked.

Each of the section's eight leagues received one automatic berth. Eight at-large teams were selected on record and strength of schedule. Harbor City Narbonne (4-5), which finished fifth in the Marine League, is the top-seeded team for the Invitational division, for teams rated 17-32.

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First-round games in both divisions will be played Thursday, quarterfinals on Nov. 21 and semifinals Nov. 30. Championship games are Dec. 7 at the Coliseum.

Birmingham will play host to San Pedro (4-5) in its opener. The teams were scheduled to meet Sept. 14 but the game was canceled following the terrorist attacks. Carson plays host to Granada Hills (6-3), Crenshaw plays host to Van Nuys Grant (6-3) and Westchester plays host to Chatsworth (6-3).

Northern League champion Franklin (7-2) plays host to No. 9 Los Angeles Fremont (7-2) in another intriguing first-round matchup. Fremont defeated Crenshaw, 27-19, on Nov. 2 and appeared on its way to clinching at least a share of the Coliseum League title and perhaps finishing unbeaten. The Pathfinders, however, were forced to forfeit the victory for using an ineligible player. Fremont lost to Los Angeles Dorsey in its finale and finished third in the Coliseum League.

Dorsey (6-3), meanwhile, finished in second place in the Coliseum League and all the Dons earned was a first-round game against defending City champion Wilmington Banning (3-6). Last year, Dorsey faced 1999 City champion Carson in its opener.

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Staff writer Eric Sondheimer contributed to this story.

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