Breaking down the CIF-SS football playoff pairings

In August, we learned current Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods
is the one Serra head coach Scott Altenberg credits with creating the
“new Serra man.” That’s an idea of being humble but also extremely
competitive, Altenberg explained.

Included in that is
winning, plenty of it.

With the pairings for the Ford
CIF Southern Section playoffs released Sunday, it was no surprise Serra
(10-0) received the No. 1 seed in the Western Division. A part of the
new Serra is competing for championships. Last December, it was
determined any shot at winning the Western Division was going to go
through Gardena and the Serra Cavaliers.

With that
bullseye came a ton of pressure, which through an entire regular season,
Serra has shown it could handle, going undefeated and reclaiming the
Mission League title.

“Everything, obviously, amps up
with the playoffs,” Altenberg said. “I think that we’ve had a lot of
success in handling (the target on your back).” 

A team with a similar bullseye is in Bellflower —
St. John Bosco (10-0). There is no repeat bid to be had, but the Braves
entered this season as heavy favorites in the PAC-5 Division and ranked
as high as No. 1 in the country, according to some
publications.

Like Altenberg, St. John Bosco head
coach Jason Negro is equally proud of his team for handling huge
expectations through a 10-game regular season.

He’s
also aware the PAC-5 is not going to be a cake walk. While Bosco
received the No. 1 seed, Mission Viejo (10-0) received the No. 2 seed.
Long Beach Poly (9-1) and Alemany (8-2) received the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds,
respectively.

This brings us to those Jackrabbits,
who somehow, someway, have flown under the radar. They just so happened
to be the reigning champs in the PAC-5 division.

Poly
suffered an early bump, getting tripped up by Servite (5-5) but bounced
back to show they were still legitimate contenders by defeating Corona
Centennial in a game shown on FOX Sports West earlier this
season.

They’ll face another Trinity League team in
the first round, Orange Lutheran (7-3). It’s tough to think about these
teams facing one another and not immediately flashback to the 2-0 PAC-5
semifinal win in 2007 — unless you’re Jackrabbits head coach Raul
Lara.

“No,” Lara said via text message. “Different
teams.”

While the ground-and-pound mentality of Poly hasn’t changed much since then, the offensive persona of Orange Lutheran is much different these days with its option running game under second year head coach Chuck Petersen.

Will Championship Saturday, Dec.
7, give us a rematch of last year’s semifinal between Poly and Bosco on
the Angel Stadium field? Will Poly be there? Will Bosco be there? Who
will be this season’s Cinderalla?

All of these
questions will get answered over the next four weeks. 

“It’s November Madness,” Negro said.