Lake Balboa Birmingham (7-4) at Woodland Hills Taft (10-1), 7
It's the game of the year in the San Fernando Valley, with both teams believing that the winner of this Championship division quarterfinal game will end up City champion. Four weeks ago, quarterback Josh Portis of second-seeded Taft caught the winning touchdown pass with 46 seconds left in a 28-21 victory over Birmingham. This time, the Patriots figure to be better prepared for his running, passing and receiving skills. The key is whether Birmingham can move the ball on the ground and take pressure off senior quarterback Andrew Miramontes. Birmingham still believes it can use its goal-line offense to power the ball up the middle. If they succeed, the Patriots will come out on top.
Sylmar (9-2) vs. Los Angeles Dorsey (10-1) at Jackie Robinson Stadium, 7
With nine of 11 offensive starters returning next season, Sylmar is supposed to be a year away from being considered a City title threat. But the way junior tailback C.J. Gable has been carrying the ball, anything's possible. Gable has 1,892 yards. But he has never faced a defense as quick or as hard hitting as that of Dorsey, the City's top-seeded team. And Sylmar must deal with the Dons' running back duo of Stafon Johnson and Jeremiah Johnson, who have 1,414 and 1,288 yards, respectively.
-- Eric Sondheimer
Harbor City Narbonne (9-2) at Carson (7-4), 7
Teams that shared the Marine League title met three weeks ago with host Carson winning, 23-14. The defending champion Colts aren't worried about a rematch. "It doesn't matter whether we play them once or four times," Coach Rowen Tupuivao said. "Whether it's Narbonne or Chatsworth or whoever, we need to win." Narbonne must give quarterback Lamont Long time to pass against a Colt defense -- led by end David Niko-Auga and linebacker Lamar Brumfield -- that will be focused on stopping running backs Travon Titus, Major Culbert and Marquis Delgado. Carson quarterback Bo Napoleon threw for a career-high 305 yards and tied a personal best with five touchdown passes in a 42-33 first-round victory over San Fernando. The senior has thrown for 2,209 yards and 20 touchdowns this season while directing a new three-receiver offense.
-- Eric Stephens
Los Angeles Crenshaw (9-2) at Venice (9-2), 7
This is a rematch of a second-round playoff game last year, which Venice won, 58-0, en route to a title-game appearance. This year's Gondoliers don't have the same offensive firepower but have won nine consecutive games. Anaheim Servite transfer Kenny Ashley is a strong, tough runner with 1,581 yards, and quarterback Robert Ambers is a solid field general with 2,056 yards passing. Led by linebackers Jimmy Miller, who has 159 tackles, and Victor Zeledon, who has 106, second-seeded Venice has given up only 12.3 points per game. Crenshaw counters with a balanced offense. Lineman Aleksey Lanis paves the way for running backs with Rickie Collins and R.J. Garrett. Quarterback John Thompson is coming off a three-touchdown pass performance in a 28-0 first-round victory over Gardena. Crenshaw has given up only 12.5 points per game.
-- Peter Yoon