For the first time this fall, the CIF Southern Section debuted a new system that did not designate playoff divisions for football teams prior to the season.
Teams learned of their fate on Sunday morning, when the section released its football pairings.
A total of six local football teams appeared in draws for the playoffs, which was perhaps more berths than the area could have expected. Four of those local teams have been seeded within their respective divisions.
Edison (7-3) earned the No. 4 seed in Division 2. The Chargers hit their stride with wins in six of their last seven games, averaging 41.2 points per game over that stretch.
Led by standout running back and defensive back Troy Fletcher, the Chargers figure to be a tough out.
In the first round, Edison will take on Southwestern League champion Murrieta Valley (7-3) in a home game at Huntington Beach High School on Friday at 7 p.m.
Corona del Mar (8-2, Sunset League No. 3) travels to take on undefeated San Gabriel Valley League champion Downey Warren (9-0) in its playoff opener on Friday at 7 p.m.
The section did not have football playoffs in the pandemic-delayed spring season, so this will be the first postseason game for the Sea Kings since winning the Division 3 and CIF State Division 1-A titles in 2019. It will also be the first playoff game for quarterback David Rasor, an experienced junior in his second year as the starting quarterback at CdM.
Newport Harbor (3-7, Sunset League at-large) and Estancia (4-6, Orange Coast League at-large) did not achieve .500 records. Not only did each receive an at-large selection, but both the Sailors and the Eagles were seeded within their respective brackets.
The Sailors went 2-3 in the Sunset League this season, the same record they sported in league play when they advanced to the Division 9 semifinals in 2019.
Newport Harbor, the No. 3 seed in the Division 6 bracket, will open at home against Sunny Hills (7-3, Freeway League No. 2) on Friday at 7 p.m.
“Like most people, we had been paying attention to the Cal Preps ratings, and we felt from our understanding of how the playoffs were going to be divvied up, we felt like we would fall somewhere between Division 5 and 6 all along,” Newport Harbor coach Peter Lofthouse said.
“We knew that depending on where they divided the pairings, there was a chance that we could or could not make it, and we felt we had a good shot to make the playoffs, so being in Division 6 and the way the pairings worked out, it happened to work out well for us, and so we’re excited for the opportunity to be able to continue to play more football.”
Estancia will play host to San Bernardino (6-4, Mountain Valley No. 3) to begin the Division 13 playoffs on Friday at 7 p.m.
The No. 3-seeded Eagles were frustrated with a goal-line call at the end of their loss in the Battle for the Bell rivalry game at Costa Mesa last week, but it ultimately did not cost Estancia a playoff spot.
The section’s new playoff system is designed to create parity by determining divisions exclusively by looking at the current season’s results.
Laguna Beach (9-1), the Pac 4 League champion, will look to prove that it is a strong No. 1 seed in the Division 9 draw. The Breakers host Chino (7-3, Sierra League No. 2) on Friday at 7 p.m. in their playoff opener.
“It’s the highest division we’ve ever been,” Laguna Beach coach John Shanahan said. “For us, we feel like if we play really, really well, we can beat most of the teams in this division. If we play poorly, we’re going to get beat, so they’re probably good matchups, and we’re excited and looking forward to it.”
The return of senior running back Tyler Fields from injury at the start of league was a big boost to the Breakers’ prospects this postseason, Shanahan added.
Costa Mesa (5-5, Orange Coast League No. 3) clinched its playoff berth with a win over Estancia in the regular season finale. The Mustangs go on the road to oppose top-seeded Compton (4-5, Moore League No. 3) at Compton College in a first-round game of the Division 12 playoffs on Friday at 7 p.m.
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