Eric Sondheimer has been covering high school sports for the Los Angeles Times since 1997 and in Southern California since 1976. Get his latest from the field and follow all our prep sports coverage and analysis here.

Football

City Section begins first attempt at Open Division football playoffs

The City Section created an eight-team Open Division football playoff system this season, going with the top eight teams based on CalPreps.com rankings. And now, after a week off, the tournament begins Friday.

The big question is will the first-round games be competitive? With the exception of Arleta-Jefferson, the first-round games were not competitive in Division I.

San Pedro plays at No. 1 Narbonne. San Pedro lost earlier this season to the Gauchos, 57-7. San Pedro will have several players back for this game. The Gauchos' passing attack has awakened behind quarterback Jalen Chatman and receivers Juwan Tucker and Noah Jackson.

Banning at No. 2 Crenshaw. The Cougars are healthy. Their offensive and defensive lines have separated themselves, making Crenshaw a real threat to Narbonne. Beware of the Cougars.

No. 5 Birmingham at No. 4 Fairfax. By seedings, this should be the most competitive game. But Fairfax has played well on defense all season and it remains to be seen whether Birmingham can rise up to beat the Lions on the road.

No. 6 Venice at No. 3 Carson. Venice has lots of offensive weapons, but so does Carson, which has bigger linemen. This could be the best game of the night.

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