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 by Christopher Mohr


(SAN DIEGO) November 14 – With the regular season for high school football coming to a close Friday night, Saturday morning meant the announcement of playoff seedings for high schools in the CIF San Diego Section.



Coaches from across San Diego and Imperial counties came to the section offices in Linda Vista to pick up footballs with CIF playoff logos stamped on them and to find out where their teams were seeded in the playoff brackets. The East County has more than its fair share of teams playing in this extended season.


For playoff seeding purposes, teams are grouped into divisions based on their enrollment size and ranked, so a given team’s performance in league play does not necessarily keep that team out of the playoffs. Since the ranking process is subjective, it often leaves some coaches scratching their head with the results.


“We lost to a top Division II team in Valhalla by seven. We lost to Serra by 14 and that was it. Our average margin of victory was 16 ½ points and I felt like we were playing well enough to deserve a top four seed,” said Mt. Miguel head coach Tom Karlo, “Our non-league, those teams are averaging six wins, I mean Morse is a nine seed in division II, Grossmont’s 5-5; they’re in the playoffs, so I felt we deserved a first-round bye.”


There are five divisions in the section. The schools with the largest enrollment are in Division I; the lowest enrollment schools are in Division V.  The top four ranked teams in each division get a first round bye.


The following is a summary of the playoff pairings by division. Included are the number one seeds and any East County teams:


Division I


La Costa Canyon (10-0) has the number 1 seed. There only two schools in this bracket east of I-15, and even then it's only by a few blocks. Escondido and Rancho Bernardo are the only two teams representing Division I from our coverage area. 


Escondido finished the regular season with a 7-2-1 record on the strength of their star running back, Ricky Seale. They have a number three seed and will have the week off. Rancho Bernardo (8-2) is a fifth seed and will play at home Friday night against Fallbrook (2-8).


Division II


The number one seed in Division II, Oceanside (10-0), is considered by most experts to be the best team in the San Diego Section, and a possible contender for a state championship.


Valhalla (8-2) has the number two seed, thanks largely to the play of quarterback Pete Thomas, who is headed for Arizona State next fall.


Helix finished with a record of 6-4 and has the number seven seed. They face Westview (3-7) at home next week. The winner of that game will face Valhalla in the quarterfinals the following week.


Grossmont (5-5) goes on the road to face Bonita Vista in the first round. After a 2-5 start, they finished the season with a three game winning streak. DeSean Waters and Brett Etherton led the playmakers for the Foothillers.


Division III


Division III has the most representation from the East County with four teams participating. Last year's state champion, Cathedral Catholic (9-1), is the number one seed.


Ramona finished the regular season with an 8-2 record and earned a week off with the number two seed.


They face the winner of the Steele CanyonSan Marcos game to be held Friday at Steele Canyon High School. The host Cougars finished the regular season with a record of 6-3-1 and were led by quarterback Brad Boehmke and running backs Alex Perlin and Jake Wragg. San Marcos is improved from years past, finishing this season with a 4-6 record.


Steele Canyon has consistently been competitive program since the school began playing varsity football in 2002. Coach Ron Boehmke spoke about the development of their program:


“We’ve been going since 2002 with the varsity program. I’ve been very pleased. I have a fantastic coaching staff and a lot of community support, and so I think things have been good. We’ve made the playoffs every year since we’ve had seniors.”


El Capitan finished with a record of 6-4 on the strength of their stingy defense that only allowed 110 points, an average of 11 points per game. They face Brawley (8-2) at home in the first round of the playoffs next Friday at 7 pm. This will be the East County Magazine Game of the Week.


El Capitan coach Ron Burner talked about his team’s performance this season: “Our season was up and down; our defense has been lights out all year. We lost to Pt. Loma by two points, we lost to Ramona by nine,” Coach Burner said about the team’s season, “My  Defensive Player of the Year last year, Bubba Prouty, was our linebacker last year; I moved him to safety this year, and he has seven interceptions, James Gallivan has seven interceptions.”


Coach Burner, reluctant to name any one player as his defensive standout, also alluded to the contributions of Anthony Lima, Daniel Wade, J.T. Wildes and Dillian Schlotter.


Mount Miguel (7-2-1), fresh off a 44-21 rout at Helix, hosts a solid Hoover team that finished out with a 6-4 record.


Division IV


Mission Bay High is the number one seed after finishing with a 10-0 record. They were led by standout quarterback Dillon Baxter, who is headed for USC next fall.


In spite of a challenging season, the Sultans of Santana High School (3-7) were rewarded with a playoff berth. They face a tough opponent in the opening round, the upstart Eagles of Olympian High School (10-0) in Chula Vista.


Escondido Charter (8-2) comes in at the number nine seed. They bounced back from a 1-8-1 season last year and outscored their opponents 349-133.


Valley Center (9-1) is the number two seed and has a first round bye. They will face the winner of the La Jolla – Palo Verde game this Friday.


On a side note, Santa Fe Christian (9-1) defeated two East County teams this season, Grossmont and Monte Vista, and has a good chance of making it to the finals as well.


Division V


Francis Parker (8-2) is the number one seed and faces the winner of the Calpatria-Calvin Christian game. Three teams from East County are in this division for the playoffs.


Christian High School (6-4) had impressive wins against schools with larger enrollments such as Santana, Sweetwater and El Cajon Valley. They have next week off as the number two seed.


Pine Valley based Mountain Empire (6-4) had an impressive 26-0 win at Julian and another rout, 48-0 at home against Vincent Memorial last week.


They are supposed to face Horizon at home, but that site site poses problems. Playoff rules dictate that the first game be played Friday evening at 7 pm. Since Horizon’s home field does not have lighting, it remains to be seen how that conflict is resolved.


Foothills Christian (6-4) comes in as the 11th seed and will travel to Carlsbad to face Army-Navy Academy. In most of their games they either routed someone (48-0 at Borrego Springs, 41-7 against Julian) or they were routed (55-0 by Hoover or 46-0 by Mountain View Christian of Las Vegas). 


The Division I, II, III and V champions will play the finals at Qualcomm Stadium on December 11. Scheduling constraints prevent all five division championships from being played there. The Division IV championships will be played at Southwestern College.


Stay tuned to East County Magazine for CIF football playoff coverage.


Christopher Mohr is a freelance writer in the San Diego area. He is an avid Chargers, Padres and Detroit Red Wings fan.

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