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PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFF GAMES : Quarterfinals, Semifinals Set for This Weekend

TIMES PREP SPORTS EDITOR

Championships are not on the line yet, but this weekend’s high school playoffs will provide several answers.

Loyola High and Santa Ana Mater Dei have a chance to show the strength of the Angelus League if they both advance to the Southern Section Division I title game. Canyon Country Canyon Coach Harry Welch and Carson Coach Gene Vollnogle have a chance to postpone their retirements for one more game. Lompoc and Serra have a chance to clash again in the Division VII title game.

The City has quarterfinal games in the 4-A and 3-A divisions, and the Southern Section has semifinals in all 10 divisions, half Friday and half Saturday.

A look at some of the key games:

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VAN NUYS BIRMINGHAM (9-2) vs. FAIRFAX (10-0)

City 3-A Quarterfinal, at Venice HS

Tonight at 7:30

Top-seeded Fairfax escaped with a 35-34 first-round victory over Washington last week. Birmingham, coming off a 12-7 victory over Gardena, should prove a tougher test for the Lions. Fairfax has talent but not much depth with nine players starting both ways. The team leader is quarterback Rahim Muhammad, who has rushed for 745 yards and passed for 1,042. Birmingham relies heavily on quarterback Vince Lampkin, who has thrown for 687 yards and rushed for 555. BELMONT (9-1) vs. SYLMAR (10-0)

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City 3-A Quarterfinal, Sylmar HS

Tonight at 7:30

Many coaches thought that Sylmar should have been seeded first in 3-A instead of Fairfax. The Spartans have outscored opponents, 330-75, and recording five shutouts. Sylmar likes to run, with junior tailback Tobaise Brookins leading the way with 1,598 yards and 18 touchdowns. Belmont mixes the pass and run. Quarterback Gino Contreras has thrown for 913 yards and 19 touchdowns, and running back Tajh Evans has gained 915 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.

SAN FERNANDO (7-4) vs. DORSEY (8-2)

City 4-A Quarterfinal, Jackie Robinson Stadium

Tonight at 7:30

It has been somewhat of a disappointing season for Dorsey, the defending City 4-A champion. The Dons lost to Carson and Banning and finished third in the Pacific League. Dorsey will need a strong effort from Lamont Warren, the team’s leading rusher who will fill in at quarterback tonight. San Fernando features a wishbone attack led by Leonice Brown, who has 1,040 yards. Dorsey defeated San Fernando in a nonconference game earlier this season, 20-10.

WOODLAND HILLS EL CAMINO REAL (7-3) vs. CARSON (9-1)

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City 4-A Quarterfinal, Veteran’s Stadium

Tonight at 7:30

Since an early-season loss to Rialto Eisenhower, Carson has been playing some of the best football in the Southland. The Colts, who are on a seven-game winning streak, feature an explosive aerial attack led by quarterback John Walsh. Walsh has passed for a school record 3,449 yards and 38 touchdowns. El Camino Real features a defense that has allowed only 171 yards a game.

QUARTZ HILL (10-2) vs. SANTA ANA MATER DEI (7-5)

SS Div. I Semifinal, Orange Coast College

Tonight at 7:30

Quartz Hill and Mater Dei are two surprise semifinalists. Quartz Hill, making its first appearance in the semifinals, features a potent running game, led by junior running back Erik Thomas, who has gained 1,216 and scored 15 touchdowns. Mater Dei breathed new life when running back Derek Sparks transferred from Montclair Prep. He has gained 1,515 yards, but Mater Dei’s surge of late, has been provided by quarterback Billy Blanton, who has thrown for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns in his last three games.

LOYOLA (10-2) vs. CANYON COUNTRY CANYON (11-1)

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SS Div. I Semifinal, College of the Canyons

Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Loyola’s Steve Grady is one of the winningest coaches in the Southern Section, but he hasn’t been able to win the big one. He called last week’s 10-7 victory over Fontana one of the sweetest moments he has had at Loyola. Harry Welch has said this will be his last season at Canyon, which is making its eighth consecutive appearance in the semifinals. It’s the third appearance in a row for Loyola, which plays conservative ball but may let Corby Smith open up the passing game. Canyon’s Kevin Bialas has passed for 1,529 yards and 13 touchdowns.

PARAMOUNT (12-0) vs. EL TORO (11-1)

SS Div. II Semifinal, Mission Viejo HS

Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Paramount’s 20-game winning streak is the longest in the Southern Section. The two-time defending Division III champions are 38-2 in the last three years with star running back Leon Neal in the lineup. El Toro is led by quarterback Rob Johnson.


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