Undefeated Woodland Hills Taft received top billing for the City Section football playoffs when the seeding committee announced pairings Friday at Lake Balboa Birmingham.
Los Angeles Crenshaw (7-3), L.A. Dorsey (8-2) and San Pedro (8-2) round out the top four seeded teams in the Championship Division.
Taft (10-0) will face plenty of obstacles as it tries to win its first championship since 1998. Malcolm Smith, a running back-linebacker called "the best player in the City" by Toreador Coach Troy Starr, dislocated his elbow Thursday in a West Valley League finale against Woodland Hills El Camino Real. His availability for the playoffs is uncertain.
If Taft wins its first-round game against L.A. Jefferson (3-6), it could play league rival Birmingham (5-5) in the quarterfinals on Nov. 23. Birmingham was seeded No. 8 and will meet No. 9 Harbor City Narbonne (6-4) in the opening round. Birmingham defeated Taft last season on its way to winning the City title.
"The road is going to be as tough as can be," Starr said.
The semifinals are scheduled for Dec. 2 and the championship games will take place Dec. 9 at the Coliseum.
Crenshaw, the Coliseum League champion, will face No. 15 Gardena (5-5). Crenshaw has been weakened by the loss of its top offensive player, receiver Tyquan Knox, who left school last week and transferred to Narbonne. Knox is awaiting word from the City Section as to whether he will be eligible to play immediately for the Gauchos.
"It probably evens it out a bit and creates more parity," Birmingham Coach Ed Croson said of Smith and Knox. "Both those teams have so much talent they can probably put other people in. Taft is still the clear-cut favorite, but we're excited about our chances."
Southern Section football playoff pairings will be announced Sunday.
-- Eric Sondheimer
Norco running back Toby Gerhart, who broke the state's career rushing mark Friday night, is among five leading candidates from the Southland for Gatorade's state football player-of-the-year award. Also being considered are receiver Terrence Austin of Long Beach Poly, linebacker-running back Allen Bradford of Colton, running back-defensive back Stafon Johnson of Dorsey and tight end Konrad Reuland of Mission Viejo.
Boys' Water Polo
Jeff Tsim and Byron Markel scored goals 41 seconds apart in the final three minutes to give Los Alamitos a 12-11 victory over Placentia El Dorado in a Southern Section Division II first-round playoff game.
Clayton Snyder scored seven goals to help the second-seeded Griffins (19-9) avoid the upset by the Golden Hawks (10-10), a wild-card entrant.
The Southern Section preliminaries are scheduled to begin at 7:45 a.m. today with the first of two Division V girls' heats at Mt. San Antonio College. The Division I heats for boys and girls are scheduled for the afternoon session. The finals, also at Mt. SAC, take place next Saturday.
The City Section preliminaries will be Monday beginning at 2:15 p.m. at Pierce College. They were originally scheduled to take place this past Wednesday but were postponed because of inclement weather. The finals are scheduled next Saturday at Pierce.