L.A. Crenshaw (9-2) at Harbor City Narbonne (11-1)
This City Section semifinal matches two of the most potent offenses in Southern California. Fourth-seeded Crenshaw has averaged 40.5 points in its two playoff victories, and top-seeded Narbonne scored 45 points against Lake Balboa Birmingham last week. Crenshaw ended Narbonne's season in the quarterfinal round in each of the last two years, winning 38-10 last year and 20-6 in 2006. "Two years ago, they beat us and they were the better team without a doubt," Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas said. "Last year, I don't necessarily believe they were better." The Gauchos committed seven turnovers in that defeat.
The pick: Narbonne.
Woodlands Hills Taft (11-1) at San Pedro (11-1)
San Pedro has held seven teams without a touchdown and has given up a total of three points in its two playoff victories, prompting Coach Mike Walsh to say his team possessed "the most complete defense we probably ever had here." But the Pirates will now face Taft's D.J. Morgan, who rushed for 176 yards and four touchdowns last week against San Fernando. "We're trying to stay balanced on offense, but it's tough when . . . you have a guy like that -- you have to give him the ball," Taft Coach Matt Kerstetter said.
The pick: San Pedro.
Long Beach Poly (12-0) vs. Lakewood (6-6)
Tonight at Cerritos College, 7
Lakewood has been the Moore League's most impressive team in the Pac-5 Division playoffs, beating Anaheim Servite and Mission Viejo behind strong play from running back Jerry Stone and quarterback Jesse Scroggins. Poly, the league's regular-season champion, needed late scores to pull out victories in its two playoff games. The Jackrabbits haven't lost to Lakewood since 1982 and beat the Lancers, 32-15, in October. Poly has not given up more than 17 points during a 24-game winning streak.
The pick: Poly.
Ventura St. Bonaventure (11-1) vs. Saugus (9-3)
Tonight at Ventura High, 7:30
This is a rematch of last year's Northern Division semifinal won by St. Bonaventure, 55-36. Saugus running back Ryan Zirbel, who sat out part of that game because of a leg injury, is now hobbled by a sore ankle that limited his effectiveness during the Centurions' 35-28 quarterfinal victory over Thousand Oaks. Saugus will lean heavily on quarterback Desi Rodriguez, who accounted for 335 yards last week. "Hopefully, you can match them explosive play for explosive play," Centurions Coach Jason Bornn said of the top-seeded Seraphs.
The pick: St. Bonaventure.
Palmdale (11-1) at Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (9-3)
Palmdale has suffered first-round losses to Mira Costa in two of the last four years, falling 42-36 in 2005 and 23-19 in 2006. Quarterback Brandon Mims has led the Falcons to nine consecutive victories, including a 21-14 Western Division quarterfinal triumph over Beverly Hills in which he threw the winning touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. "That's probably the key for us, to somehow try to contain him a little bit," Mira Costa Coach Don Morrow said. Chris Loatman, Mira Costa's leading rusher, sat out the Mustangs' 28-14 quarterfinal victory over Downey Warren because of a twisted knee but could play tonight.
The pick: Mira Costa.
-- Ben Bolch
Full Playoff Schedule, Page 4