Saturday’s regional final at Orange Coast College: Serra (Gardena) vs. Edison (Huntington Beach).
Bowl history: Serra is playing in its third bowl game (won in 2009 State Division III over Marin Catholic, lost in 2010 State Division II to Folsom). Edison is playing in its first-ever bowl game.
Controversial choice? This was one of the most heated debates since the bowl games began in 2006. Depending on how one interpreted the various results, criteria and even personal evaluations after watching both teams play, Oceanside could have just as easily gotten the nod as one of the two teams in this division. Citrus Hill (14-0) also was no doubt a strong team on the board.
Early Prediction: Serra 20, Edison 14. The speed and talent of the Cavaliers will present the toughest test for Edison’s outstanding defense so far this season.
Here are the Week 15 CIF Division II South bowl game rankings (completed before this year’s bowl selections were made; after games of Saturday, Dec. 1; previous rank in parentheses):
Thanks to managing editor Ronnie Flores for taking the initiative to watch Edison and Oceanside in separate games this weekend. He also watched Serra of Gardena in person.
DIVISION II SOUTH
1. (2) Serra (Gardena) 12-2*
2. (3) Edison (Huntington Beach) 13-1*
3. (4) Oceanside 12-1*
4. (1) Chaminade (West Hills) 12-2
5. (5) Citrus Hill (Perris) 14-0*
6. (10) Lompoc 12-1
7. (11) Garces (Bakersfield) 12-1*
8. (6) Serrano (Phelan) 13-1
9. (7) Villa Park 12-2
10. (12) Tustin 12-1
11. (13) Palos Verdes (PV Estates) 11-3*
12. (15) Kaiser (Fontana) 13-1*
14. (14) Carter (Rialto) 12-1
15. (NR) Downey 11-3*
*Indicates section champ, eligible for CIF bowl game.
Drops: Previous No. 8 La Serna (Whittier) lost to Downey 33-25 in CIFSS Southeast Division championship.
Bubble Teams: Cathedral (Los Angeles) 10-3, Foothill (Tustin) 10-3, Helix (La Mesa) 9-2**, Lincoln (San Diego) 9-4*, Olympian (Chula Vista) 11-1, Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 10-4, San Fernando 12-2*, Sanger 10-3, Valencia 9-4, West (Torrance) 10-4.
*Season complete and eligible for CIF bowl game. Lincoln won CIF San Diego Section Division III title Saturday by 42-14 over Ramona. San Fernando won CIF L.A. City Section Division II title Saturday by 42-35 over Canoga Park.
**Win by forfeit not included plus season complete, ineligible for bowl game.
Note about this division: Previous No. 1 South Chaminade of West Hills lost to Serra of Gardena 30-28 in the CIF Southern Section Western Division championship game. This result means this division will be closely scrutinized between three deserving section champions: Serra, CIF Southern Section Southwest Division champ Edison of Huntington Beach and CIF San Diego Section Division II champ Oceanside . This means all three teams, which we’ve have seen all in person, require an in-depth analysis.
Case for Serra: The Cavaliers not only defeated Chaminade to avenge a loss to the Eagles in a Mission League contest, Serra also defeated an unbeaten Lompoc 34-21 in its semifinal contest. Lompoc went into that game with the state’s longest winning streak at the time — 32 games — and Serra beat the Braves convincingly. It’s safe to say Serra’s victory over Lompoc was the most impressive semifinal playoff win among the three teams being seriously considered in this division.
It’s not just Serra’s last two victories that makes the Cavs such a strong pick, either, it’s the overall body of work. When Long Beach Poly won the CIF Southern Section’s Pac-Five Division — the section’s premier championship — it turned into a feather in the cap for Serra since the Cavaliers beat Poly, 20-12, in their second game of the season. Serra’s season-opening 26-23 victory over Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks was also a quality win since that team advanced to the Pac-Five quarterfinals. Serra, unlike Edison and Oceanside, does have a second loss: a 22-9 setback against CIF L.A. City Section champ Narbonne of Harbor City in its fifth game. Considering Narbonne won its section title with a 14-0 record and is SoCal’s consensus top-ranked team it’s easy to conclude Serra played the toughest schedule of the three contenders in this division. There is also previous precedent that a two-loss team has no trouble getting selected provided it played a strong schedule.
Serra has now won three CIF Southern Section titles in the last four seasons and appeared in four section title games in five years. It has played and beaten some of the state’s best teams in that time frame and is 1-1 in state bowl games, winning in Division III in 2009 and losing in Division II in 2010. Those two bowl-bound teams were led by fantastic players such as Heisman Trophy candidate Marqise Lee and fellow USC wide receiver Robert Woods. It’s hard to say if any of this year’s players can become as good as that duo, but the talent level is the same as when that group played at the school.
All-purpose back Adoree Jackson is a big-time player and coach Scott Altenberg also has two quality running backs in Marques Rodgers and sophomore Malik Roberson. Serra’s defense is talented, too, with players such as junior linebacker Dwight Williams.
Considering all the above-mentioned factors (strength of schedule, quality wins, quality of players and previous performances), Serra isn’t likely to be left out of a regional bowl game.
Case for Edison: The Chargers won their first section title under veteran coach Dave White with a 28-10 victory over Villa Park. It was the Chargers’ second victory over Villa Park after beating that team in their second game 27-7. A strong point for Edison is Villa Park didn’t lose to another team all season long and the Spartans beat a previously unbeaten Tustin team in their semifinal playoff game.
As the season wore on, Edison’s victories over teams such as San Clemente (5-5) and traditional Pac-Five power Servite of Anaheim (3-7) lost some luster, but Edison has been on a roll since its only loss to Pac-Five runner-up Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Edison trailed Mater Dei, 20-0, before rallying to lose by six points and opposite of some of its wins, the Edison-Mater Dei score became more significant as the season wore on. Edison would have loved to seen Mater Dei defeat Long Beach Poly on Saturday night, but its only loss being to the Pac-Five runner-up makes for a strong resume. It’s also against a better opponent than Oceanside lost to (read below) and Edison does have one less loss than Serra.
Speaking of the Pac-Five, Edison was previously in that division and when the Chargers were moved to the Southwest Division, the Chargers did not lose to any team from that division and showed just how dominant they could be against those teams, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Edison’s defense, led by players such as linebacker Donald Rice and sure-handed cornerbacks Kiante Goudeau and Jeremy Maxwell, had two safeties in the Southwest Division championship game alone. Oceanside and Serra have more potent offenses than Edison, but in recent years (2006, 2009) Edison advanced to Pac-Five title games and this year’s defense is just as good as the ones on those clubs were.
With its performances this season and track record, Edison is a solid choice for one of the two spots in this division.
Case for Oceanside: Similar to Edison, Oceanside beat a strong foe (in this case Poway) for a second time in its respective section title game whereas Serra avenged a loss. Poway has previously won San Diego Section titles in Division I, so when Oceanside dominated the Titans 32-10 after beating them 23-13 in the first meeting, it left no question that the Pirates are the best team in San Diego and deserving of a bowl bid.
Looking at the Pirates’ overall schedule, it’s wasn’t as strong as Serra’s, but it was quite similar to Edison’s. In fact, both teams squeaked by its playoff semifinal foes. When you point to a signature win, Oceanside clearly has that, even more so than Edison, with its 34-14 win over Oakdale in the first game of the season. The Pirates led the eventual Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions 34-0 at halftime. Oceanside’s 34-14 victory over Oakdale was that NorCal team’s only loss.
Now let’s talk about Oceanside’s only loss. It was a 40-30 setback to Chaparral of Temecula, a team that lost in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Inland Division playoffs and finished 7-4. Chaparral was highly-regarded in the preseason and whether or not it underachieved or simply was not that good, it doesn’t matter because the result hurts Oceanside regardless. In our rankings system, the loss to 12-2 Mater Dei hurts Edison less than Oceanside’s loss to 7-4 Chaparral. Of the four losses suffered by the three top contenders in this division, Chaparral would clearly be the lowest ranked team of the quartet.
With this year’s section title under its belt, Oceanside has won eight CIF San Diego Section titles in various divisions in the last nine years. The only time the Pirates didn’t win in that time span in 2011, they lost to Helix of La Mesa in the championship game and that team went on to win the Division II CIF Bowl Game. Under head coach John Carroll, the Pirates have won 12 section championships since 1995. That’s awfully impressive.
Two of Carroll’s teams went to CIF Bowl Games in Division I and Division II and won both games. This year’s team is quite similar to those bowl-winning teams with a balanced offense led by a stellar quarterback and a big offensive line. Isreal Paopao started two years ago on Oceanside’s section title-winning team and he was impressive in this year’s title tilt against Poway, displaying a strong arm and the ability to elude tackles as a runner. Oceanside has explosive offensive players on the outside and when the team needs to convert short yardage situations, fullback William Gulley is as good as they come. Oceanside has a lot of two-way players, but there is no drop off on either side of the ball.
If the CIF Commissioners simply go by the criteria of won-loss record and who teams lost to with the same amount of losses (remember Oceanside had a first-round playoff bye that’s why they are 12-1 and not 13-1) when casting their votes in this division, Edison is the logical choice. If the commissioners place more emphasis on Oceanside’s win over Oakdale and how strong it has been since the advent of the CIF Bowl Games in 2006, Oceanside’s chances to be selected in this division increase.
Note on Serra, Edison and Oceanside: For these three teams we mentioned some of the strengths and weaknesses of their player personnel for comparatives. We saw all three teams play and even minor points might make a difference in which two teams eventually get selected.
Special Mention: 14-0 Citrus Hill of Perris defeated 13-1 Serrano of Phelan 38-24 in the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division championship game. The Hawks had a terrific season under head coach Eric Zomalt, a former all-state player at Canyon Springs of Moreno Valley, but the all-important strength of schedule criteria simply doesn’t allow for them to be mentioned as serious contenders above Serra, Edison and Oceanside.
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