Coaches react and respond to the CIF-Southern Section and City Section football playoff brackets released over the weekend.
Alemany coach Dean Herrington agreed there are no easy roads through the Pac-5 Division playoffs. Alemany is the No. 4 seed and plays St. John Bosco in the first round. “We’re at home. It’s going to be a big, big test. It’s going to be a tough one for us,” Herrington said. St. John Bosco finished in third place in the Trinity League, behind Servite, the No. 1 seed in the Pac-5 Division playoffs, and Santa Margarita. The Braves won their Trinity League finale, 48-28, over Orange Lutheran. Senior running Royce Moore rushed for 179 yards and four touchdowns. Junior DaVonte Young has 829 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the season. “They run the ball great,” Herrington said. “We gotta slow down their run game.” Alemany is coming off a 21-14 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in the Serra League final. Herrington had to play his starters a little longer than he wanted, but he said his players are healthy and ready for playoffs. The Warriors are in the same half of the bracket as San Clemente, Lakewood and top-seeded Servite. “They all worry you,” Herrington said. “San Clemente’s only lost one game. Lakewood, they’re a solid team. Survive and advance is all you can do. We’re definitely not looking ahead, that’s for sure.”
At first glance, Oaks Christian’s first-round opponent, Mira Costa, doesn’t look all that tough. The Mustangs have a losing record at 4-6 and finished in third place in a weak Bay League. But Oaks Christian Bill Redell is not taking Mira Costa lightly. “I would say, they’re a 4-6 team, but they’ve had a lot of injuries. They’re getting players back,” Redell said. “They’re a really good team, big. If they all come back, I categorize them physically with Bellevue. It’s not a cakewalk.” Oaks Christian lost to Bellevue, the defending Washington state Division 3A champion, to open the season. Oaks Christian won the Northern Division championship last year and the Lions are looking to make a CIF playoff final for the ninth time in school history. Redell said his half of the bracket is fair. “I’m glad we’re not having to play any Marmonte League teams until the semis,” he said. St. Bonaventure, the No. 3 seed in the Northern Division playoffs, is the only other Marmonte League team in the bottom half of the bracket. Oaks Christian beat St. Bonaventure, 36-24, during Marmonte League play. Another bit of good news for Oaks Christian: Running back and linebacker Carlos Mendoza, an Arizona State commit, is expected to play after missing the last two games because of a shoulder injury.
Chaminade coach Ed Croson sounds like his team let a golden opportunity slip away. The Eagles lost to Gardena Serra in the Mission League finale and went from the No. 1 team in the Western Division to the No. 3 team. “We’re a little disheartened, but pretty optimistic about our chances,” Croson said. “We have to play tougher teams and maybe on the road.” Croson said three of the top four teams in the Western Division playoffs are in his team’s side of the bracket. St. Francis and Arroyo Grande are going to present challenges for Chaminade. “That game was a doggone calamity of errors,” Croson said about the season finale against Serra. “It was just one of those nights.” Chaminade opens the Western Division playoffs against Inglewood (5-5), the second-place team from the Ocean League. The Sentinels have a four-game winning streak heading into playoffs. Croson said Inglewood has some athletic players, especially on the defensive side of the ball. “They haven’t had to play teams that run the kind of stuff we run,” he said. That will give Chaminade a bit of an advantage. If Chaminade wins its first-round game, the winner of the San Luis Obispo-Camarillo game awaits in the quarterfinals. St. Francis and Arroyo Grande will most likely meet in another quarterfinal. “We’re still growing,” Croson said. “If we can win this year, it will mean all the more.”
Paraclete had the luxury of the No. 1 seed in the East Valley Division playoffs last year and won its eighth CIF championship. Sierra Canyon is the top seed this year and is undefeated at 10-0 entering the East Valley Division playoffs. Paraclete coach Norm Dahlia says his team and Sierra Canyon are the powerhouses of the division, but there are some dangerous teams on both sides of the East Valley bracket. “It’s a tough one all the way around,” he said. Paraclete opens against Grace Brethren (6-4), the second-place team from the Frontier League. “They’re a smaller school, 23 guys on their roster. Coach Josh Henderson does a fabulous job with the guys that he’s got,” Dahlia said. “They’re a scrappy team and we’ll have to play 48 minutes.” St. Margaret’s, a two-time East Valley Division champion, is also in Paraclete’s half of the bracket and seeded No. 3. If Paraclete and St. Margaret’s win their first two games, they will meet in the semifinals. “I have a lot of respect for them,” Dahlia said. “They’re a dangerous team.”
The City Section playoffs have some interesting first-round games. Birmingham, the No. 6 seed in the Division I playoffs and the champion of the West Valley League plays Arleta, the East Valley League champ, and running back Dejon Coleman. Coleman has scored 46 touchdowns this season and needs one more to break the City Section record held by Marlon Lucky from North Hollywood. El Camino Real has a tough first-round game against Crenshaw, the reigning City Section Division I champion. Van Nuys is making its first playoff appearance since 1998 and will play Belmont in the first round of the Division II playoffs. Van Nuys is the sixth seed and has a chance to make a deep playoff run. Coach Sean Pollard told the Daily News he wants his team to represent the Valley Mission League well. Fifth-seeded Canoga Park is in prime position to win its first playoff game in five years at home against Eagle Rock, making its first playoff appearance since 2007.