Two-time defending champion Fontana Kaiser would be a prohibitive favorite in the Southern Section Division VIII football playoffs if it hadn't lost a nonleague game to Rialto, which failed to make the Division I playoffs with a 3-7 record.
The Cats' path to a title defense has become more difficult with quarterback and kicker Nick Gonzalez academically ineligible. Kaiser won its league finale, 14-8, over Bloomington without him and was seeded second. The two unbeaten teams in the division, Phelan Serrano (10-0) and Victorville Silverado (9-0-1) would meet in the semifinals.
Here's a closer look at middle and lower divisions:
* 2003 champion: Covina South Hills.
* Seeded teams: 1. El Monte Arroyo (10-0); 2. Santa Fe Springs Santa Fe (8-1-1); 3. Montebello Schurr (9-1); 4. Westminster (8-2).
* Others to watch: Orange (8-2); Covina South Hills (6-4).
* The breakdown: Put all the names on a board. Throw a dart. Don't be surprised if it hits South Hills.
* 2003 champion: Fontana Kaiser.
* Seeded teams: 1. Phelan Serrano (10-0); 2. Kaiser (9-1); 3. Palm Springs (9-1); 4. Victorville Silverado (9-0-1).
* Others to watch: Pomona Diamond Ranch (7-2-1); Ridgecrest Burroughs (6-4)
* The breakdown: The four seeded teams are expected to reach the semifinals, but the winner of a first-round game between Diamond Ranch and Riverside Norte Vista could be starting a deep playoff run.
* 2003 champion: La Habra.
* Seeded teams: 1. Anaheim Western (9-1); 2. Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro (8-2); 3. La Habra (7-3); 4. San Dimas (8-2).
* Others to watch: Fullerton (7-3).
* The breakdown: It's easy to like Western, which handled traditionally tough teams Tustin and Los Altos, and whose only loss is 15-14 to Mayfair.
* 2003 champion: Lompoc.
* Seeded teams: 1. Lompoc (10-0); 2. North Torrance (9-1); 3. Santa Maria St. Joseph (9-1); 4. Encino Crespi (7-3).
* Others to watch: Los Angeles Cabrillo (8-2).
* The breakdown: Watch out for Crespi, which beat Palmdale and finished within a touchdown of Lake Balboa Birmingham, St. Bonaventure and Canyon Country Canyon -- all teams ranked in The Times' top 25.
* 2003 champion: Westlake Village Oaks Christian.
* Seeded teams: 1. Oaks Christian (10-0); 2. Oak Park (9-1); 3. Cerritos Valley Christian (9-1); 4. San Jacinto (7-3).
* Others to watch: None.
* The breakdown: Oaks Christian. Period.
* 2003 champion: Sun Valley Village Christian.
* Seeded teams: 1. Ontario Christian (9-1); 2. Simi Valley Grace Brethren (9-1); 3. Mojave (9-1); 4. Burbank Bell-Jeff (9-1).
* Others to watch: Aquinas (9-1).
* The breakdown: Ontario Christian plays a tough nonleague schedule and has victories over two league champions, including fourth-seeded San Dimas from Division IX.
* 2003 champion: La Canada Flintridge Prep.
* Seeded teams: 1. Anza Hamilton (9-1); 2. Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep (8-2); 3. Temecula Linfield Christian (8-1-1); 4. San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's (7-1-1).
* Others to watch: California School for the Deaf Riverside (9-1).
* The breakdown: Hamilton should roll.