A preview of the championship game may have occurred over the weekend when top-ranked Corona del Mar was beaten by second-ranked Beckman, 42-37, in the finale of the Pacific Coast League. Last year three of the semifinalists were from the PCL, and it wouldn't be a surprise if that happened again.
The seeds: 1. Beckman (8-2), 2. Corona del Mar (8-2), 3. Segerstrom (8-2), 4. Estancia (8-2).
Best first-round matchup: Woodbridge (5-5) vs. Rancho Alamitos (9-1) at Bolsa Grande HS -- Rancho had to beat the second-best team from its own Garden Grove League, Los Amigos (8-2), last week to win the title, and now have to open with the third-place team from the best league in the division. Woodbridge has a win over third-seeded Segerstrom and a one-point loss to second-seeded Corona del Mar. That's not normal for a third-place team with a .500 record.
Toughest road: Rancho Alamitos has it pretty tough for a league champion; if the Vaqueros get past Woodbridge, they likely play fourth-seeded Estancia, which had a 56-point margin of victory over Bolsa Grande, a team that Rancho defeated in league, 33-6, and lost by only two points to top-seeded Beckman.
Potential shocker: Laguna Beach (8-2) vs. Segerstrom (8-2) -- Assuming that both teams advance to this second round game, third-seeded Segerstrom -- which plays the defending champion, Garden Grove (4-6) in the first round -- has to stop a Breakers team led by Drake Martinez (134 yards/game, 23 TDs) that has scored 42 points or more eight times, and scored 55 or more five times. Segerstrom hasn't played a team that has a winning record.
Darkhorse: Woodbridge (5-5) -- The Warriors have performed well against two seeded opponents, defeating third-seeded Segerstrom, 21-14, and losing to second-seeded Corona del Mar, 31-30. It also hung with Beckman for a while before losing, 28-13. The Warriors, led by Derek Calderon (136 yards/game, 13 TDs), have seen the best the division has to offer and will be coming through the No. 4 quarter bracket.
Final analysis: There are some intriguing longshots such as Woodbridge, Laguna Beach, Rancho Alamitos and Los Amigos (8-2), but most of the time football is a reality sport, and the reality is that the PCL is the dominant league, and Beckman and Corona del Mar are best teams from that league.
Championship prediction: They will be hard-pressed to put on a better show than last year's final, a 31-30 victory by Garden Grove over Beckman. Still, Beckman's 42-37 win over Corona del Mar last week to determine the PCL champion makes for an attractive rematch with lots of potential for down-to-the-wire dramatics. Beckman's Jeff Kim (132 yards/game, 16 TDs) and CdM's Erik Fisher (111 yards/game, 10 TDs) are worthy adversaries. Still, CdM needed 27 points in the fourth quarter last week to make it close. Beckman 35, Corona del Mar 28.