High School: Picking teams for state championship bowls will be harder than ever


By Eric Sondheimer
Los Angeles Times

September 26, 2010

There’s a real mess brewing in Southern California high school football, and it’s going to unfold in December when it’s time to pick the CIF state championship bowl teams to play at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Only two bowl berths are available among the Northern Division champion, the Inland Division champion and the Pac-5 champion. That means the section commissioners could end up leaving out an unbeaten Westlake Village Westlake, an unbeaten Corona Centennial or the Pac-5 champion, Mission Viejo or Anaheim Servite, when filling the berths for the Open Division and Division I bowl games.

That might provoke anger among fans whose team is left out.

But if the scenario plays out, good luck trying to separate the teams.

Asked who he’d leave out, Eric Maddy from CalPreps.com said, “You got me.”

Yes, strength of schedule would prevail in trying to figure out the representatives, but this season more than ever, going unbeaten could be decisive.

Of course, it’s only the opening month of the season, and teams still have to win a section title to gain consideration for a bowl berth.

But come December, some commissioners might want to call in sick on selection day.

Mission Viejo (4-0), Westlake (3-0), Servite (4-0) and Centennial (3-0) truly look like elite teams. And Gardena Serra (4-0) isn’t far off, but because the Cavaliers are listed as a Division II team for bowl consideration, it’s doubtful they’d enter the equation for the Open Division game because then the commissioners would have to leave out two teams from among the big three.

Let’s see how everything plays out, but don’t be surprised if it gets very uncomfortable on selection day.

Excitement in Westlake Village

I called Westlake Coach Jim Benkert on Saturday morning. He was meeting with his team. I asked whether the players were excited about facing Oaks Christian, the school less than a mile from Westlake.

He said, “Hold on.”

Then he asked his players, “Are you excited about playing Oaks Christian?”

The next thing I know, I hear a loud, “Yes!” coming from my phone.

It took 11 years to get Westlake and Oaks Christian to finally play a football game against each other, but it’s set for 8:30 p.m. Friday at Oaks Christian. Westlake has been given 3,000 tickets. Oaks Christian has 3,000 tickets. The game will air on Prime Ticket.

Oaks Christian Athletic Director Jan Hethcock said tickets can be purchased at the school’s reception desk starting at 1 p.m. Monday.

Both schools are 2-0 in the Marmonte League. Oaks Christian expects to be at full strength with the return of receiver Jordan Payton and tight end Dillon van der Wal from injuries.

Coach Bill Redell said he will make a decision Thursday as to who will start at quarterback after competition this week in practice between Trevor Gretzky and Richie Harrington.

Touchdown machine

Steven Manfro, a senior running back from Valencia, has scored 14 touchdowns in three games.

City showdown looming

Mark down Nov. 12 on your calendar. That’s when Dorsey (4-0) and Crenshaw (2-2) are scheduled to meet in a regular-season finale at Jackie Robinson Stadium at Rancho Cienega Sports Complex.

It should bring out both schools’ famous football alumni en force. Dorsey’s two ex-players at UCLA, Rahim Moore and Johnathan Franklin, are so loyal that they list as their hometown, “Dorsey, Calif.”

Golfer to watch

Tiffany Yau, a 14-year-old freshman golfer at Van Nuys, made a hole in one in her first high school match earlier this season and has continued to dazzle, becoming the No. 1 player on a team favored to win the City Section girls’ title.