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VARSITY TIMES | HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL STATE PLAYOFFS

Bowl pairings due Sunday

December 05, 2007|Eric Maddy | Special to The Times

On Sunday, commissioners from the 10 sections that make up the California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for high school sports in the state, will meet to determine the pairings for the three CIF state football championship bowl games that will take place on Dec. 15 at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

One team from the south, made up of the Southern, Los Angeles City, Central and San Diego sections, and one from the north, which includes the Central Coast, North Coast, Northern, Oakland, San Francisco and Sac-Joaquin sections, will be paired in each of three enrollment-based divisions.

Last year's inaugural triple header, also at the Home Depot Center, was a three-game sweep for the south. Canyon Country Canyon scored a 27-13 upset of Concord De La Salle, then ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today, in the Division I game. Orange Lutheran defeated Palo Alto, 42-28, in Division II, and Westlake Village Oaks Christian beat Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman, 27-20, in overtime in Division III.

Only section champions will be considered for berths, and selection guidelines include records, strengths of schedules, head-to-head competition and common opponents.

Ballots of the commissioners will be secret and their choices will be announced beginning at 3 p.m. live on FSN Prime Ticket.

A look at the prospective candidates from the south and north for each division game:

SOUTH

Division I -- Corona Centennial (12-1) and Lake Balboa Birmingham (12-1) are the primary candidates with Long Beach Poly (12-1) having a slim outside shot. The voters have tended to put a lot of weight on head-to-head matchups. Since Birmingham defeated Poly, 20-7, in September, Poly would have to beat Encino Crespi in the Southern Section Pac-5 final and Birmingham would have to lose to Carson in the City Championship Division final for the Jackrabbits to have a chance, and the latter isn't likely to happen. More likely, a decision will have to be made between Centennial and Birmingham. Against their only common opponent, Birmingham lost to Crespi, 20-6, in Zero Week and Centennial beat the Celts, 41-20, in Week 3. Though both teams played tough nonleague schedules, Centennial's tougher league and postseason slates give it an edge there as well.

Division II -- The favorites, in this order, are Crespi (11-2), Oceanside (10-1), and Visalia El Diamante (12-1). A Crespi victory over Long Beach Poly makes it a quick vote. Oceanside probably gets in with a victory over San Marcos Mission Hills on Friday in the San Diego Section's Division II final and a Crespi loss. El Diamante of the Central Section would need Crespi and Oceanside to lose.

Division III -- Ventura St. Bonaventure (12-1) and Westlake Village Oaks Christian (10-3) are the top candidates heading into this weekend's section finals, but the Seraphs get a much tougher opponent in Newhall Hart in the Northern Division final, while the Lions play Ojai Nordhoff, a team they have already beaten this season, 42-6, in the Northwest Division title game.

If both win, St. Bonaventure will probably get the nod by virtue of its 41-33 victory over Oaks Christian in September.

If they both lose, Santa Fe Springs St. Paul (9-4), San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's (13-0), Kern County Taft (12-1), and the La Jolla Bishop's (11-0) vs. El Cajon Christian (11-0) winner in the San Diego's Division V final will enter the discussion. All except Taft still have a game to play.

NORTH

Division I -- Concord De La Salle (11-0), the state's top-ranked team, according to CalHiSports.com, is a lock unless the Spartans are upset by San Ramon California on Saturday in the North Coast Section's 4A East Bay Division final.

Should that unlikely scenario take place -- De La Salle has won 43 consecutive North Coast playoff games, including 15 championship games -- San Jose Oak Grove (12-1), Napa (12-1), Granite Bay (11-2), San Ramon California (11-1), and Danville San Ramon Valley (11-1-1) would be the contenders. Napa, California, and SRV also play on Saturday.

Division II -- Stockton St. Mary's (12-1) might be the best team, but it has a tough game against Napa on Saturday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I final.

Should St. Mary's lose, Palo Cedro Foothill (12-0) and the winner of Friday's Walnut Creek Las Lomas (13-0)-Novato game (12-0) for the North Coast 2A title will get looks.

Division III -- Modesto Central Catholic (11-1-1), Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman (11-1-1) and Sutter (12-0) are the candidates. Central Catholic and Newman tied, 35-35, in their season opener. Newman is a slight underdog Saturday against Danville San Ramon Valley in the North Coast 3A final, and a loss by the Cardinals would make the discussion easier. Though Sutter is undefeated, it is likely still behind the other two on voters' minds because of a somewhat weaker schedule.

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