Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Football: CIF-SS Playoff Breakdown (11/8/17)

USC-commit JT Daniels of Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Photo/Terry Jack.



DJ Uiagalelei of St. John Bosco of Bellflower. Photo/Mark Bausman.

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Mater Dei of Santa Ana; 2. Centennial of Corona; 3. St. John Bosco of Bellflower; and 4. Chaminade of West Hills.

SLEEPER: Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita. The Eagles may not have the superstar guy or guys, but they have a bunch of playmakers that can put up a fight. They face a pass-heavy Murrieta Valley in Round 1 and if they get by the Nighthawks, which they should, then the Eagles will face Centennial. The Huskies better be careful because if QB Tanner McKee goes down, they’re in trouble. Even with him, the Eagles could get by Centennial. If Santa Margarita gets to the semifinals and meets Bosco, we could have another classic. Both teams met earlier in the season and the Braves snuck by with a 40-38 victory. Maybe, RB Chay Magyar and Santa Margarita get by on the second try?

SEMIFINALS: Mater Dei over Mission Viejo and St. John Bosco over Santa Margarita.

FINALS: Mater Dei over St. John Bosco.

NOTES: This is the toughest and deepest playoff bracket in the country. Four Trinity League schools advance to the quarterfinals, but Servite of Anaheim and Orange Lutheran will make it close in Round 1. Chaminade and Mission Viejo will advance and meet in a big showdown. That game will be a good one and the Diablos should get that extra boost to win and keep Coach Bob Johnson’s coaching career active for another week. The Bosco QB change from Iowa State-commit Re-al Mitchell to DJ Uiagalelei has paid off quite well and it should be enough to get past San Clemente in the quarterfinals. Bosco will be ready for the Eagles in the semifinals. Now, we get to the finals, which is what we’ve all been waiting for, Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco. USC-committed QB JT Daniels will throw to his many weapons, mainly WR Amon-ra St. Brown, and lead the Monarchs to the title after losing to Bosco in last years finals. Mater Dei takes D-1 and heads for a national title.


David Baldwin of Upland. Photo/@ApacheSam.

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Upland; 2. Heritage of Romoland; 3. Valencia of Magic Mountain; and 4. Oaks Christian of Westlake.

SLEEPER: Calabasas. Hard to believe the Coyotes didn’t get a top seed, but a team (Valencia) it beat did. The Coyotes will make everyone pay through the air with QB Jaden Casey. Facing a heavy-run team in Heritage will be tough, but fun to watch. Calabasas will face Valencia in the semifinals in a rematch and get ready for another offensive slugfest. Valencia’s running game will get the win in the rematch, but it will be another classic one.

SEMIFINALS: Upland over Oaks Christian and Valencia over Calabasas.

FINALS: Valencia over Upland.

NOTES: Upland is loaded. WR Taj Davis will need a big performance in the postseason, especially in the semifinals against Oaks Christian. The quarterfinals should be tough with sophomore QB Bryce Young leading Cathedral. La Habra is loaded and should handle Edison, but will find trouble against Oaks Christian. We are going to have a fun running back matchup in the quarterfinals with Moises Haynes of Valencia and Travis Dye of Norco, but the semifinals will be all air against Calabasas, which will be ready for a run game after facing Heritage’s running back duo. Valencia will get it’s revenge against the Coyotes and will take that big win and handle Upland to take the D-2 title.


Jermaine Braddock of Charter Oak of Covina. Photo/@COHSFootball.

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Charter Oak of Covina; 2. Citrus Hill of Perris; 3. Lompoc; and 4. Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley

SLEEPER: Villa Park. The Spartans have had several close calls this season and that should be the case here. Villa Park will win a close one over El Toro of Lake Forest, then win a big one over undefeated Lompoc. The Spartans will have a tough one against Citrus Hill, but maybe two big wins in the postseason could be boost in the semifinals.

SEMIFINALS: Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth over Charter Oak of Covina and Citrus Hill over Villa Park.

FINALS: Sierra Canyon over Citrus Hill.

NOTES: My head almost blew up when I saw that Sierra Canyon didn’t get a top seed. The Trailblazers should punish their doubters. Hart of Newhall will be a tough first-round matchup with QB JT Shrout, but Sierra Canyon will handle the Indians. Rancho Verde will be the next victim and then top seeded Charter Oak in the semifinals. The quarterfinals on the other side of the bracket look interesting with Lompoc vs. Villa Park and St. Francis of La Canada vs. Citrus Hill, but Citrus Hill will face Villa Park after Lompoc’s perfect season comes to and end. Those close victories that the Spartans have had will come to an end against a strong Hawks’ offense, led by RB Jon Jefferson, but Citrus Hill will run into a Sierra Canyon team that has been to the finals before and Trailblazers will win with freshman QB Chayden Peery. I believe it was Drake that said “Sierra Canyon goin’ back to back.”


Nathan Manning of Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo. Photo/Craig Takata

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo; 2. Cajon of San Bernardino; 3. Santiago of Corona; and 4. Corona del Mar of Newport Beach

SLEEPER: Roosevelt of Eastvale. The Mustangs struggled at the end of the regular season, but they also faced powerhouse Centennial of Corona, Norco and Santiago. Roosevelt will use that experience against CdM, which cruised in the Pacific Coast League. The quarterfinals will be another good one and the Mustangs should handle Downey. Roosevelt has a shot with Capo Valley, but the Cougars were also in a tough league and have finals experience. The semifinals could go either way.

SEMIFINALS: Capistrano Valley over Roosevelt and Cajon over Santiago.

FINALS: Capistrano Valley over Cajon.

NOTES: Capo Valley is well respected, but it seems the Cougars are still underrated. QB Nathan Manning should propel the Cougars to the next level, if it’s really needed. Manning will battle with Hawaii-committed QB Jeremy Moussa of Roosevelt in the semifinals. Manning will get the Cougars to the finals for the second straight year. Santiago will have a tough one against Murrieta Mesa in the quarterfinals, but the Sharks did beat Murrieta Valley, which beat the Rams, so Santiago will head to the semifinals. Cajon will end the Sharks’ run and head to the finals. QB Jayden Daniels will go all out for the Cowboys against Capo Valley, but after losing in last year’s finals, the Cougars will win this one.


Princeton-bound Brevin White of Paraclete of Lancaster. Photo/Patrick Takkinen.

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Paraclete of Lancaster; 2. Paramount; 3. Lawndale; and 4. Yucaipa.

SLEEPER: Lawndale. The Cardinals are seeded pretty high for the playoffs and they should get to the semifinals, but with RB Jordan Wilmore leading the offense, Lawndale should take care of Paramount and head to the finals to face a very loaded Paraclete squad.

SEMIFINALS: Paraclete over Yucaipa and Lawndale over Paramount.

FINALS: Paraclete over Lawndale.

NOTES: Paraclete is that team that you wonder why it’s in Division 5, kind of like Calabasas last season. All four top seeds will head to the semifinals. Paloma Valley and Moorpark should put up a fight in the quarterfinals, but will fall to Yucaipa and Lawndale. Now, Lawndale will handle Paramount in the semifinals, while Paraclete will have a tough one, but should prevail over Yucaipa. Princeton-committed QB Brevin White and the Spirits win another CIF-SS title.


Ashton Borgeson of Bishop Diego of Santa Barbara. Photo/

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Bishop Diego of Santa Barbara; 2. Golden Valley of Santa Clarita; 3. Crescenta Valley of La Crescenta; and 4. St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs

SLEEPER: Saugus. The Centurions should go through to the semifinals to face Bishop Diego, which will be tough to get by. But if they can beat St. Paul, maybe they can do the same to the Cardinals.

SEMIFINALS: Bishop Diego over Saugus and Crescenta Valley over Golden Valley.

FINALS: Bishop Diego over Crescenta Valley.

NOTES: Can anyone threaten Bishop Diego in D-6? Maybe, Crescenta Valley in the finals. After going 1-9 last season, Fountain Valley could get by Golden Valley in the quarterfinals, but WR DeGabriel Floyd will lead the Grizzlies to the semifinals. RB John Harris should cruise with Bishop Diego to a Division 6 title.


Andrew Carvajal of El Modena of Orange. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. South Hills of Covina; 2. El Modena of Orange; 3. St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano; and 4. Yorba Linda.

SLEEPER: Fullerton. The Indians have been playing great football since starting the season 0-3. Fullerton only lost to La Habra 17-0 and should take care of North Torrance. St. Margaret’s will be a tough one, but Fullerton will be ready. RB Dylan Nicholson will be looking to get revenge against El Modena in the semifinals. Fullerton lost to the Vanguards, 42-14, earlier in the season, but this is a different Indians squad, so anything can happen, especially in the playoffs.

SEMIFINALS: Yorba Linda over South Hills and El Modena over Fullerton.

FINALS: El Modena over Yorba Linda

NOTES: South Hills has an easy route to the semifinals, which is good, but also bad because Yorba Linda will be ready since they have been there before. The Mustangs will head back to the finals. On the other side of the bracket, the quarterfinals will be big ones. Fullerton will have to play close to perfect against St. Margaret’s in order to get to the semifinals. Playing in a competitive league, the Indians should advance and face an El Modena squad that will sneak by Palmdale, which is coming off a three-way tie for the Golden League title. The Vanguards played very well and had a tough schedule. It’s an all-Century Conference matchup for the Division 7 title. Hopefully, we can have a thrilling ending like the last matchup earlier in the season. El Mo and Yorba Linda always play in thrillers and this one will be no different. QB AJ Esperanza will get revenge for the Vanguards after losing to Yorba Linda in last year’s semifinals. After losing in three straight semifinals, El Mo will take home a CIF-SS title.


Austin Maciel of Rio Mesa of Oxnard. Ohoto/

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Rio Mesa of Oxnard; 2. Silverado of Victorville; 3. Grace Brethren of Simi Valley; and 4. Antelope Valley of Lancaster.

SLEEPER: Antelope Valley. The Antelopes will face a tough battle in the quarterfinals, but they should handle Valley Christian of Cerritos. The Lopes head to the semifinals and face undefeated Rio Mesa. The Golden League was pretty tough and the Lopes finished in a three-way tie with Quartz Hill and Palmdale for first place. WR Devon Williams should lead Antelope Valley to the finals. Anything can happen in the finals.

SEMIFINALS: Antelope Valley over Rio Mesa and Grace Brethren over Silverado.

FINALS: Grace Brethren over Antelope Valley.

NOTES: This bracket should be pretty smooth until then semifinals with all four top seeds advancing. RB Alex Jung will run wild for Sunny Hills in the quarterfinals, but Silverado will sneak by and survive to the semifinals. The top two seeds should fall short to the other top seeds. Antelope Valley pulls off a big win, but it won’t have enough to handle LB Justin Skidmore and the Lancers. Grace Brethren takes the D-8 title.


Branden Rankins of Aquinas of San Bernardino. Photo/@BRankins7.

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Aquinas of San Bernardino; 2. Burroughs of Ridgecrest; 3. Mayfair of Lakewood; and 4. Palm Desert.

SLEEPER: St. Anthony of Long Beach. The defending CIF-SS champs will battle in their first-round matchup against Norwalk, but then the Saints face a Burroughs team that has escaped with some very close victories. Perhaps, their luck will run out against a team with playoff experience. St. Anthony heads to the semifinals and will battle with the Suburban League champions. It won’t be easy for Mayfair with LB Noah Nieto leading St. Anthony. The journey might stay alive for the Saints if they want to get back to the finals.

SEMIFINALS: Aquinas over Cypress and Mayfair over St. Anthony.

FINALS: Aquinas over Mayfair.

NOTES: Poor Division 9. Aquinas is just going to steamroll through everyone with RB Branden Rankins on his current rampage this season. A lot of upset in this bracket. Cypress will take care of Agoura, the Canyon League champions, then Desert Valley champion Palm Desert will fall to the Centurions, but Aquinas in the semifinals. Cypress will make use of a challenging Empire League schedule. After a first-round win, Mayfair will battle in the quarterfinals against QB Nick Nash and Woodbridge of Irvine. The Monsoons head to the semifinals and face another tough one against last season’s CIF state finalists, but they should sneak by St. Anthony and head to the finals, but Aquinas? The Falcons should cruise and be ready for a possible state title run.

By MANNY ALVAREZ/So Cal Sidelines


Apple Valley’s Jeff Widener hands off to Donovan Ferguson. Photo/@RaeannePrescottPhotography.

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10, Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Apple Valley; 2. Dos Pueblos of Goleta; 3. Pacifica of Garden Grove; and 4. Grand Terrace.

SLEEPER: Valley View of Moreno Valley. Justin Keeling has rushed for 2,161 yards and 25 TDs and gives the Eagles shot against anybody in Division 10.

SEMIFINALS: Grand Terrace over Apple Valley and Valley View over Dos Pueblos.

FINALS: Valley View over Grand Terrace.

NOTES: Apple Valley went undefeated in the regular season for the first time in school history, won its first Mojave River League title and first league title in 32 years. LB Seth Baker leads the Sun Devils defense with 13.7 tackles per game and three interceptions and the offense features Jeff Widener (1,581 passing yards, 26 TDs) and rB Donovan Ferguson (1.007 rushing yards, 10 TDs). … RB Jonta McMullen, a 5-5, 160-pound speedster, has rushed for 1,416 yards and 27 TDs and he has two receiving TDs for Grand Terrace. DE/OLB Jacob Torres has 24 TFLs and 13.0 sacks for the Titans’ defense. … DE Justin Padilla has 10.0 sacks and CB Daniel Arzate and FS Michael Elbert have six and five interceptions, respectively, for Dos pueblos’ defense. … Pacifica QB Ben Jefferson has been one of the most dynamic players in Division 10, passing for 1,972 yards and 19 TDs and rushing for 1,278 yards and 17 TDs. …


Jonathan Martin of Culver City. Photo/

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10; Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Culver City; 2. Arroyo of El Monte; 3. Arcadia; and 4. Covina.

SLEEPER: Katella of Anaheim. The Knights have won four consecutive Orange League titles and have reached the quarterfinals four of the past five years, but can they finally advance further this year? Maybe. Katella would have a very tough challenge against Arcadia in the quarterfinals.

SEMIFINALS: Culver City over Covina and Arroyo over Arcadia.

FINALS: Arroyo over Culver City.

NOTES: Culver City QB Jonathan Martin is the most prolific passer in Division 11, completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,793 yards and 37 TDs with just four interceptions. His top receivers are Jamal Glaspie (38 rec., 758 yards, 6 TDs), Kevin McGuire (34 rec., 710 yards, 9 TDs) and Charles Ross (21 rec. 426 yards, 9 TDs). … Arroyo is the three-time defending Mission Valley League champion and the reigning Division 12 champion. QB Ernesto Camacho Jr. has thrown for 2,380 yards and 23 TDs, LB Antonio Nava has 8.0 sacks and LB Daniel Mendoza has four interceptions for the Knights. … FS Cesar Haro has 9.0 sacks and SS Rolandiss Whitener has three interceptions to lead Arcadia’s defense. … Covina battled Arroyo in a season-opening 35-28 loss and finished in a three-way tie with San Dimas and Northview of Covina for first place in the Valle Vista League. Sophomore Erik Cuellar has rushed for 1,607 yards and 13 TDs to lead the Colts’ offense, while DE Jacob Gregory has 8.0 sacks to lead the defense. …


Miguel Aguero of Schurr of Montebello. Photo/

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10; Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Schurr of Montebello; 2. Santa Ana; 3. Big Bear of Big Bear City; and 4. South El Monte.

SLEEPER: Rancho Christian of Temecula. The Eagles have many of the key players, including QB Carter Treadway, back who helped them win the Division 13 and CIF Division 6-AA state titles last year.

SEMIFINALS: Rancho Christian over Schurr and Santa Ana over Big Bear.

FINALS: Rancho Christian over Santa Ana.

NOTES: After four straight trips to the quarterfinals, Schurr is looking to break through and make a run at the Division 12 title. QB Miguel Aguero gives the Spartans a shot after closing out the regular season with back-to-back 40-yard passing games. … Santa Ana, which has won back-to-back Golden West League titles, is looking to get back to the finals for the second straight year after losing to Rancho Christian in last year’s Division 13 title game. The Saints are led by two 1,000-yard rushers — QB Damian Macias and RB Allen Pacheco. … Big Bear, which has won back-to-back Cross Valley League titles, is averaging 347.1 rushing yards per game, led by Jesus “Chuy” Castro (1,013 yards, 13 TDs). … South El Monte finished second to Arroyo in the Mission Valley League after a 14-13 loss to the Knights, who got the No. 2 seed in Division 11. Sal Tovar leads the offense with 1,636 rushing yards and 24 TDs and Mark Sosa leads the defense with 11.0 sacks. …


Blake Kirshner of Santa Clarita Christian of Canyon Country. Photo/

PLAYOFF DATES: First Round on Nov. 10; Quarterfinals on Nov. 17, Semifinals on Nov. 24 and Finals on Dec. 1/Dec. 2 at TBA.

SEEDED TEAMS: 1. Santa Clarita Christian of Canyon Country; 2. Nogales of La Puente; 3. La Quinta of Westminster; and 4. Orange.

SLEEPER: Webb of Claremont. The Gauls have 58.0 sacks, including 17.5 by DE Jeffrey Ran and 21 interceptions, including five by FS JJ Cunningham, for a defense that has allowed 12.0 points per game and recorded four shutouts.

SEMIFINALS: Santa Clarita Christian over Orange and Nogales over La Quinta.

FINALS: Santa Clarita Christian over Nogales.

NOTES: Santa Clarita Christian, the San Joaquin League champion, has a high-powered passing attack that features QB Blake Kirshner (330.5 passing yards per game and 41 TDs) and WRs Caden Brenner (68 rec., 891 yards, 9 TDs), Blaike Orth (31 rec., 845 yards, 13 TDs) and Ethan Schwesinger (46 rec., 664 yards, 6 TDs). … Joshua Lopez threw for 1,261 yards and 22 TDs and rushed for 543 yards and nine TDs for Nogales, which went undefeated in the Montview League for its first league title since 1991. … QB Michael Nadeau, a 6-5, 220-pound junior, is generating recruiting interest after passing for 1,415 yards and 16 TDs with four interceptions for La Quinta. … QB Jason Wilkinson, a 6-5, 197-pounder, has been a playmaker for Orange this season, passing for 1,873 yards and 20 TDs with 10 interceptions. His favorite targets are Jordan Schmidt (50 rec., 982 yards, 9 TDs) and Syrus Collins (61 rec., 871 yards, 11 TDs). …

By CARLOS ARIAS/So Cal Sidelines

(NOTE: Report football news and notes to So Cal Sidelines editor-in-chief Carlos Arias via email (, text (949-606-3602) or Twitter (@SoCalSidelines))

Follow us on Twitter @SoCalSidelines.


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