Nearly two dozen Catholic high schools from the Los Angeles Archdiocese and Orange Diocese will be vying for divisional titles when the first round of the CIF-Southern Section football playoffs begins Nov. 10.
The field includes three teams which won CIF championships in 2016 — St. John Bosco (Division 1), Paraclete (Division 6) and St. Anthony (Division 10) — and two which won state titles: St. John Bosco (Open) and 2017; Paraclete (3AA).
The leading force to be reckoned with is undefeated Mater Dei, which for the second straight year achieved a perfect 10-0 season, the No. 1 ranking in Division 1, and a No.1 ranking nationally in MaxPreps’ “Xcellent 25” poll. But the Monarchs are also looking to avenge last year’s 42-28 CIF title game loss to St. John Bosco, which enabled the Braves to advance to, and win, the state Open Division championship game.
During the 2017 regular season, Mater Dei’s toughest contest, not surprisingly, was its 31-17 win over the Braves in October, propelling the Monarchs to another Trinity League title. So powerful is the Trinity League that all six teams are in the D-1 tournament, one of 13 such 16-team tourneys that will help determine who is selected for state title games Dec. 15 and 16.
The 208-school field includes a number of teams which have been placed in different divisions this year (like Paraclete in D-5 and St. Anthony in D-9), and some with losing records. The latter were selected based on league record and/or strength of schedule, with their divisional placement determined prior to the start of the regular season.
In several cases, one league is represented in several CIF divisions. The Mission League, for example, is represented in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 of this year’s playoffs, while Angelus League teams are in Divisions 2, 3 and 6.
Following is a division-by-division breakdown of the first-round games, with each team’s regular season record in parentheses:
Division 1: Mater Dei (10-0) vs. Vista Murrieta (4-6); St. John Bosco (8-2) vs. Bishop Amat (5-5); J. Serra (7-3) vs. Long Beach Poly (8-2); Servite (6-4) vs. Mission Viejo (9-0); Chaminade (9-1) vs. Orange Lutheran (5-5); Santa Margarita (7-3) vs. Murrieta Valley (8-2); Serra/Gardena (6-4) vs. Centennial/Corona (8-1).
Division 2: Cathedral (9-1) vs. Redlands East Valley (6-4); Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks (6-4) vs. Calabasas (9-1).
Division 3: St. Francis (9-1) vs. La Serna (6-4); Crespi (1-9) vs. Charter Oak (10-0).
Division 4: Damien (6-4) vs. Paso Robles (5-4).
Division 5: Paraclete (9-1) vs. Ventura (5-5); St. Joseph/Santa Maria (6-4) vs. Harvard-Westlake (8-2).
Division 6: Bishop Diego (9-1) vs. Norte Vista (3-7); St. Paul (4-6) vs. West Torrance (5-5).
Division 9: St. Anthony (7-3) vs. Norwalk (7-3).
Division 11: St. Genevieve (7-2) vs. Westminster (7-3).
Division 12: Verbum Dei (5-5) vs. Godinez (7-3).
Division 13: Santa Clara (8-2) vs. Workman (4-6); Cantwell-Sacred Heart (6-4) vs. Orange (8-2).
Eight-Man Division 1: Villanova (10-0) vs. Windward (8-2), quarterfinals.