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San Pedro Looks Up to Find Favorites

City Section football: Pirates not concerned about unfamiliar territory as 16th seeded team.

November 15, 2001|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

San Pedro High knows what it's like to begin the City Section football playoffs as the top-seeded team.

The Pirates were No. 1 in 1996 and won the first of consecutive major-division titles.

Tonight, the Pirates begin what they hope will be a long playoff run from the opposite end of the bracket.

San Pedro (4-5), seeded 16th in the 16-team Championship division, plays its first-round game on the road against No. 1 Van Nuys Birmingham (9-0).

All first-round games in the Championship and Invitational divisions will be played today. Quarterfinal games are Wednesday.

"You don't get extra points for being No. 1 and you don't get extra points for being No. 16. You still have to go out and beat someone," San Pedro Coach Mike Walsh said.

Birmingham, which won its only City title in 1963, has risen to regular-season prominence in two seasons under Coach Ed Croson.

The Patriots, who lost to Carson in the quarterfinals last season, repeated as West Valley League champions and finished unbeaten, though their Sept. 14 game against San Pedro was canceled.

"They have an excellent coach," Walsh said. "That guy didn't turn around that program because he can't coach. They're 9-0 for a reason."

Experience could make Marine League-tested San Pedro the favorite.

The Pirates won lower-division titles under Walsh in 1992 and 1993 before capturing major-division titles in 1996 and 1997.

This season, all of San Pedro's losses came against teams that are in the Championship division playoffs. The Pirates were the only team to defeat Carson.

Walsh does not want to get into a shootout with Birmingham's spread offense, which is directed by efficient quarterback Scott Jensen. The Patriots are averaging 41 points.

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South Gate was disqualified Wednesday from the Invitational playoffs for using an ineligible player in several games, said Barbara Fiege, the City Section's director of athletics.

Garfield replaces South Gate and will play second-seeded Granada Hills Kennedy (4-5) tonight at Kennedy.

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