8 biggest upsets in CIF Southern Section football playoffs: San Dimas’ win over Foothill tops list

Of the 56 games played in the 2019 CIF Southern Section high school football quarterfinals, the majority of them were considered to be either tossups or won by the “favorites.”

But there were more than a few exciting upsets in which dominant teams went down. 

Here are the eight biggest upsets from last Friday’s quarterfinals (records shown are as of last week):

8. West Ranch def. Woodrow Wilson 57-56 (Division 7 Bracket)

Calling 9-2 West Ranch’s one-point victory over Woodrow Wilson an upset is a small stretch, but most of the Wildcats’ victories had come against teams nowhere near Wilson’s level. As much as West Ranch was and still is a force this year, their losses to Hart (28-21) and particularly Valencia (45-0) to end the regular sign didn’t seem like a good omen. 

Meanwhile, Wilson was 10-1 with a few nice wins over Mayfair, San Jacinto, and Lakewood, with their only loss coming to Division 2 quarterfinalist Long Beach Poly. They had just beaten Fullerton 54-0 in the first round. But behind QB Walker Eget’s seven touchdowns, Wilson pulled out a comeback from 35-21 at halftime. 

7. Hemet def. El Rancho 35-32 (Division 11 Bracket)

For quite a few weeks leading up to the playoffs, we had Hemet on underdog playoff run watch because of their earthly record (7-4), strong defense even against opponents in upper divisions, and handful of both close losses and wins early in the season. So far, they’ve beaten Arroyo pretty handily and now knocked off a strong (9-2) El Rancho team.

Their offense has been on a tear for a month now, and that’s not a good sign for the rest of Division 11. El Rancho had only lost to Northview and La Serna this year, and beaten nearly everyone else lopsidedly. But Hemet was poised even when trailing late in the game, and won in the waning minutes. At this point, they’re no longer under anyone’s radar. 

6. Simi Valley def. Norte Vista 41-24 (Division 7 Bracket)

At 8-3, Simi Valley was never considered a heavy underdog against Norte Vista, but the 10-1 Braves had been even more formidable this season on paper. Simi Valley had blown out a lot of teams, but Norte Vista had only lost to Division 7 favorite Temecula Valley, and only by four points. The Pioneers gave them their second loss on the year, and the 41 points they put up more than doubled the previous season high against them from their opponents this season. Simi Valley, dealing with several injuries to significant players, was led by RB Elijah Leiva’s 188 rushing yards. 

5. Loara def. Sierra Vista 28-20 (Division 14 Bracket)

For the top five upsets of the week, the upset meter is now cranked from low to medium and high going forward. Despite forfeiting numerous blowout victories this season due to some clerical issues, Sierra Vista was Division 14’s worst kept secret in recent history, and otherwise undefeated. With a number of Division 1 prospects on the team and coming off a blowout in which they put up 60 points in the first quarter, they seemed like a lock to make the finals and contend for a title.

But Loara (9-2) wasn’t having it. Sierra Vista got up 14-0 in the first quarter, and the Saxons clamped down on them from there on out. Loara had been dominant this season, but against a fairly easy schedule, and did have losses to Esperanza (41-10) and Rancho Alamitos (21-10). The Saxons forced a multitude of turnovers and capitalized, and now have to be considered a top threat to win Division 14 going forward. 

4. Orange Vista def. Oak Park 23-0 (Division 12 Bracket)

Oak Park was 11-0 this season going into last week. No opponents had contained their explosive offense yet. While their strength of schedule wasn’t anything to write home about, they had some nice wins on the season including a 31-7 rout of Simi Valley. Orange Vista (8-3) had done an excellent job cleaning up against losing teams all year, but fell short considerably whenever they faced tough opponents in Burbank, J.W. North, and El Monte.

Where did this shutout come from? The upset was far from unthinkable, but Oak Park was a better team offensively than J.W. North and Burbank, who combined for 65 points against Orange Vista­–it’s the combination of upset and shutout that makes this result eye-opening.

Next up, Orange Vista will need to bring every drop of that dominant defense again to handle Adelanto. And if they win, there’s a good chance they’ll see El Monte in the finals, and have the opportunity to prove that they’re far better than the team that got blown out by them early in the season. 

3. Aquinas def. Oxnard 26-21 (Division 5 Bracket)

The way Aquinas had played this season, riding nine straight wins since opening up with two losses to Grace Brethren (42-18) and Kaiser (10-0), they couldn’t be counted out against anyone in their field. A lot of those wins came against severely underpowered opponents, and some had come to good teams, but none nearly as good as Oxnard.

Oxnard lost by one point against Camarillo before league play, and that’s it–they were otherwise 10-0, and the teams they’ve beaten included Chaminade, Pacifica (Oxnard), and St. Bonaventure, all with room to spare.

But Aquinas made it ten straight wins last week. Glendora awaits them, followed by the winner of Culver City and St. Paul, so their margin for error is still very small.

2. Crespi def. Ayala 38-35 (Division 6 Bracket)

Looking solely at the data, there wasn’t much reason to give Crespi a chance against heavy Division 6 favorite Ayala. Ayala was 11-0 with wins including Chino Hills, Diamond Ranch, Tustin, Glendora, Bonita, and Los Osos. Crespi had turned heads this season at 7-4 despite a hard schedule, but their best wins had come against Birmingham and St. Francis–very good teams, but not on Ayala’s level at all.

This is a huge moment for a Crespi program that has been struggling in recent years relative to a strong football tradition. Now that they’ve knocked out the Bulldogs, they have as good of a shot as anyone to win it all. But with Pacifica and then the winner of La Serna vs. San Jacinto in their way, things won’t get much easier.

1. San Dimas def. Foothill 21-18 (Division 9 Bracket)

At 11-0, Foothill was the top seed and runaway favorite to win Division 9. San Dimas came in at 10-1 and had been a pleasant surprise all season in what was expected to be a rebuilding year, so it’s not like Foothill was a shoe-in to win it all, but a lot of people weren’t giving the rest of the division much of a chance.

Foothill’s dream season has now come to an end to make way for San Dimas’. Even with a strong field left in front of them, it would be tough not to call them the new favorites to win the division.

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