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Southland teams' eyes are on the bowls

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FYI

The 10 CIF section commissioners will meet Dec. 13 to determine the pairings for the five bowl games that pit Southern California teams against their counterparts from the northern part of the state.

November 22, 2009|By Ben Bolch

It's three weeks to selection Sunday. Do you know where your team is in the hunt for a CIF state football bowl championship berth?

Assuming they win their respective playoff divisions, there appear to be three undefeated Southland teams with the strongest cases for selection for the coveted open division game: Huntington Beach Edison, Los Angeles Crenshaw and Westlake Village Oaks Christian.

Edison's argument would seem to be the most persuasive because the Chargers have played the toughest schedule.

The Chargers have victories over Anaheim Servite and Dana Hills and could face Lakewood and Mission Viejo, depending on how the Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs unfold.

Crenshaw, bidding to become the first City Section team to qualify for a state bowl game, has defeated Lakewood and Norco, and the Cougars might have to get past Carson or Venice to win the City title.

Oaks Christian has beaten Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline and Venice, and the Lions probably will have to defeat Gardena Serra to win the Northwest Division title.

The 10 CIF section commissioners will meet Dec. 13 to determine the pairings for the five bowl games that pit teams from Southern California against their counterparts from the northern part of the state in enrollment-based divisions.

Only section champions are eligible for consideration, and the commissioners weigh criteria including record, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and common opponents.

Crenshaw should root for Lakewood to win the Pac-5 and Norco to win the Inland Division because it would considerably boost the Cougars' strength of schedule.

Oaks Christian was hoping its 28-25 victory over Skyline would be the Spartans' only defeat en route to a third consecutive state title, but Skyline has suffered another loss.

If Edison or Mission Viejo, which is also undefeated but has played a mostly nondescript schedule, wins the Pac-5 and is selected for the open division bowl game, Crenshaw would probably receive the enrollment-based Division II bid.

The Cougars' chances for the open division game would be enhanced by Lakewood, Servite or La Puente Bishop Amat -- teams that each have one loss -- winning the Pac-5.

Oaks Christian would probably play in the Division III game if it wins its section and is not selected for the open division game.

Crenshaw's biggest advocate in the process will be City Section Commissioner Barbara Fiege, who said that if the Cougars win their section title and "if the data from the other highly ranked teams dictates that there is a very fine line between those teams and Crenshaw, we would certainly participate in the open division conversation."

The City Section has been shut out of the bowl games since their inception in 2006.

Corona Centennial was selected instead of Lake Balboa Birmingham for the Division I game in 2007 despite the fact that both teams won their respective section titles and were 13-1, because the Huskies defeated Encino Crespi and the Patriots lost to the Celts.

Critics can argue that the bowl games still fail to produce a clear-cut No. 1 team in the state because of a playoff system in which some of the best teams play in different divisions.

"Of course in a perfect world, an elimination process would be more appropriate," Fiege said. "However, the bowl games have proven to be very exciting and are working well. I do believe the selection process is fair, given the fact that the daunting task is to select the best champions out of an entire group of champions."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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