The CIF Southern Section Division 2 football quarterfinals kick off Friday, Nov. 15. Here’s an inside look at the matchups:
After a strong 9-1 regular season that included wins over the likes of Grace Brethren, Paraclete, and Lawndale, Sierra Canyon is deserving of the top seed in Division 2. Is there anything of a gap between them and the next tier of competition though? There might be none at all. But they will be favored against Vista Murrieta this week, although not overwhelmingly.
Vista Murrieta has been up and down this year, but their playoff win last week over Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) was arguably their best game of the season. Sierra Canyon’s defense has been more consistent than their offense, and Vista Murrieta is comfortable winning close, fairly low-scoring games. If they catch Sierra Canyon on an off-night offensively, the Broncos will have a decent shot at pulling off an upset, and will quickly become a top contender for the Division 2 title.
Long Beach Poly’s dramatic comeback win against Orange Lutheran was by far their most impressive of the season. Not only because they came back from 14-0 and won in overtime, but also, OLu was the best team they’ve beaten this year by a huge margin. Before last week, their best win was against Wilson (Long Beach), who is outstanding this season but not a Division 2 playoff contender by any stretch.
Rancho Cucamonga has almost never slipped up this season other than against powerhouses in Norco and Calabasas who were both clear favorites against them. They were significantly favored last week over Murrieta Valley, but beating them 49-14 was a major statement.
The Cougars will be the clear favorite again this week, but Long Beach Poly is finally the team they hoped for this season–one that absolutely nobody wants to see in the playoffs.
Early in the season, Rancho Verde wasn’t considered a threat to go very far in the Division 2 playoffs. They lost 30-7 in early on against Upland, and the rest of their wins were against inferior competition. Then they announced their presence with a eye-popping 63-35 rout of Norco in Week 5 and proceeded to annihilate almost everyone in sight. Now that they knocked out Serra (Gardena), it’s clear that they are a legitimate contender.
San Clemente has been a Division 1 candidate or Division 2 title contender from the get-go though, and while they just didn’t seem to have the firepower to compete with Corona del Mar or Mission Viejo, they’ve been pretty much unstoppable against anyone who’s not a top-50 team in the nation. Last week’s 17-7 victory against Valencia (Valencia) left a lot to be desired, but they will still come into this primetime showdown as a moderate favorite.
Additionally, this could be one of the best quarterback duels in the playoffs with versatile San Clemente senior Nick Billoups going against Rancho Verde’s superstar slinger, sophomore AJ Duffy. Get your popcorn.
Neither of these teams were favored last week, but that didn’t stop either of them. Chaminade came ready to play and put up 46 points on No. 3 Norco, while Upland played one of their best games of the year in a 27-17 win against hot Oaks Christian.
The thing with Chaminade is, if you only look at their season since league play started, there’s no reason not to consider them one of the top favorites to win the Division. And that was already becoming the case before they knocked off Norco. After a very mediocre preseason, they finished second in the Mission League with QB Jaylen Henderson and RB/SB Willy Camacho proving uncontainable for weeks on end. Their defense also turned up the heat substantially when league play started, and has held up as well as needed against every foe they’ve faced since then.
With Upland, the defense is never in question, led by one of the premier linebacker tandems in the country in Justin and Jonathan Flowe. They’ve almost never been able to put up many points on great defenses this season, but with RB Tyevin Ford getting hot at the right time, they put up 27 on Oaks Christian.
Chaminade may have the edge because of several weeks of momentum, but calling either of these teams the favorite would be a stretch. And if either wins in a dominant performance, they’ll roll into the semifinals with about as good a chance as anyone to win the division.