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Division Ii

September 11, 2002|Ben Bolch

2001 champion: Mission Viejo.

League favorites: Upland (Baseline), Newhall Hart (Foothill), Chino (Sierra), Mission Viejo (South Coast).

Contenders: Rancho Cucamonga (Baseline), Valencia (Foothill), Chino Hills Ayala (Sierra), San Clemente (South Coast).

Key dates: Friday, Hart vs. Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium, San Clemente vs. Edison at Huntington Beach High; Sept. 20, Mission Viejo vs. Santa Ana Mater Dei at Santa Ana Stadium; Ventura St. Bonaventure vs. Hart at College of the Canyons; Sept. 27, Long Beach Jordan vs. Ayala at Chino High; Oct. 4, Redlands vs. Rancho Cucamonga at Chaffey College, Valencia at Arroyo Grande; Oct. 18, Upland vs. Rancho Cucamonga at Chaffey College; Oct. 25, San Clemente at Mission Viejo; Nov. 1, Ayala at Chino; Nov. 14, Valencia vs. Hart at College of the Canyons.

The scoop: This should be little more than a four-horse race loaded with also-rans. Hart and Valencia, last year's Division III finalists, are legitimate title contenders after moving up a division but will have to contend with Mission Viejo and Chino, which feature powerhouse running games. Hart and Mission Viejo may establish themselves as early favorites with victories over Los Alamitos and Mater Dei, respectively, in the first two weeks of the season.

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