High school football: A look at the championship game matchups
A look at the high school football championship game matchups Friday and Saturday in the Southern Section and City Section:
Open Division: Wilmington Banning (7-4) vs. Lake Balboa Birmingham (7-4) at El Camino College, 7 p.m. This game will come down to whether Birmingham can stop running back Jakob Galloway and whether Banning can contain Birmingham’s passing attack, led by quarterback Jackson Dadich and receiver Mason White. Banning quarterback Jake Otto is another key player because of his ability to make big plays with his arm and legs. The pick: Birmingham.
8-man: The final between Animo Robinson and North Valley Military will take place at 3 p.m. at El Camino College.
Division 2: Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (12-1) at West Hills Chaminade (7-5), 7:30 p.m. Sierra Canyon can prove its ready for Division 1 in 2020 by dispatching the Eagles with a group of talented underclassmen, led by quarterback Chayden Peery, who has passed for 16 touchdowns with one interception. Chaminade quarterback Jaylen Henderson and running back Willy Camacho lead the surprising Eagles. The pick: Sierra Canyon.
Division 3: Simi Valley Grace Brethren (12-1) vs. Corona del Mar (13-0) at Newport Harbor, 7:30 p.m. Corona del Mar couldn’t handle Grace Brethren’s rushing attack last season when they met in the Division 4 final. This time, the Sea Kings have a better defense, along with their same explosive offense that features Washington-bound quarterback Ethan Garbers and Stanford-bound receiver John Humphreys. Josh Henderson Jr. has been exceptional for Grace Brethren as a rusher and tackler. Receiver Nate Bennett is dangerous. The pick: Corona del Mar.
Division 5: San Bernardino Aquinas (11-2) at Santa Fe Springs St. Paul (12-1), 7 p.m. St. Paul’s defense showed how good it is in an upset of top-seeded Culver City last week while shutting down its prolific passing attack. Jonathan Faumatu leads the defense with more than 100 tackles. Aquinas’ Francisco Mauigoa passed for 188 yards last week in an upset of Glendora. The pick: St. Paul.
Charter schools Birmingham, El Camino Real, Granada Hills and Palisades are dominating City Section sports across the board.
Division 7: Temecula Valley (11-2) vs. Cypress (13-0) at Anaheim Western, 7 p.m. To beat Cypress, you need to figure out how to deal with 6-foot-3, 210-pound running back/linebacker Isaac Hurtado, who has rushed for more than 2,500 yards, scored 42 touchdowns and is equally impressive on defense. Temecula Valley has its own standout running back in Brody Hughes. Anson Pulsipher has intercepted seven passes. The pick: Cypress.
Division 10: Crescenta Valley (13-0) at Simi Valley (10-3), 7 p.m. Rookie head coach Hudson Gossard has kept the Falcons’ program successful with a consistent offense that features running back Maximus Grant and Sebastian DeLeon. The defense likes to put pressure on quarterbacks and has 50 sacks. Coach Jim Benkert has Simi Valley seeking its first section title in his second season as coach. Running back Elijah Leiva rushed for 260 yards in the semifinals. The Pioneers have played the tougher playoff opponents. The pick: Crescenta Valley.
Division 11: Pasadena Muir (11-2) vs. Huntington Beach Marina (11-2) at Westminster, 7 p.m. First-year coach Zaire Calvin has Muir playing for its first title in 30 years. The talented John Humphrey is a two-way standout at receiver and defensive back. Carlos Ramirez has 20 sacks. Marina, which is led by running back Pharoah Rush, is making its first finals appearance under former Long Beach Poly assistant Jeff Turley. The pick: Muir.
Division 14: Downey St. Pius X-St. Matthias (12-0) at South Torrance (9-4), 7 p.m. St. Pius X is in its third year of existence and playing for its first title under coach Todd Butler, who used to be an assistant at South Torrance. Bruce Walker had two interceptions, two touchdowns and 11 tackles in the quarterfinals. South Torrance quarterback Drew Nash has passed for 32 touchdowns. The pick: St. Pius X-St. Matthias.
8-man: The Division 2 final between Lancaster Baptist and host Bloomington Christian will be played at 7 p.m.
Division III: Huntington Park Marquez (13-0) vs. Gardena (9-4) at El Camino College, 11 a.m. Quarterback Erick Salas has led Marquez to 13 consecutive victories. His passing and leadership skills are critical. Gardena played a stronger schedule, having to make it through the Marine League. The pick: Marquez.
Division II: Franklin (11-2) vs. Canoga Park (11-2) at El Camino College, 2:30 p.m. The last team with the ball could win this one. Both teams have strong offensive weapons. Alfred Bobadilla of Franklin leads the City Section in passing. Canoga Park has one of the most feared receivers in sophomore Dominic Arango-Serna. The pick: Canoga Park.
Division I: Reseda (9-3) vs. Woodland Hills El Camino Real (8-4) at El Camino College, 6 p.m. Reseda defeated the Conquistadores in an early season game, but both teams are much improved. Reseda’s passing attack includes top receivers catching passes from quarterback Trent Butler. El Camino Real will try to control the clock with its rushing attack. The pick: Reseda.
Division 1: Santa Ana Mater Dei (12-0) vs. Bellflower St. John Bosco (11-1) at Cerritos College, 7:30 p.m. This is the fourth consecutive season the Trinity League rivals have met in the Division 1 final. Mater Dei has won the last two titles and comes in having been rarely challenged this season. The Monarchs’ offense has been unstoppable behind quarterback Bryce Young, receiver Kody Epps and a dominant offensive line. St. John Bosco lost to the Monarchs 38-24 on Oct. 25. The Braves need to run the ball effectively to control the clock and create opportunities for standout quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. The pick: Mater Dei.
Division 4: San Juan Capistrano San Juan Hills (10-3) at Los Angeles Loyola (6-6), 7 p.m. The Stallions’ offense features quarterback Hudson Jones, who is completing 72% of his passes, and receiver Joey Hobert, who has 18 touchdown catches. There’s also Austin Hogan, who has rushed for 1,372 yards. The Cubs have been underdogs most of the season and keep surprising. Quarterback Brayden Zermeno is capable of a breakout game that could propel the Cubs to an upset on their campus field. The pick: San Juan Hills.
Palmdale Highland players use a snowman as a tackling dummy in preparation for championship football game
Division 6: Oxnard Pacifica (12-1) vs. Whittier La Serna (13-0) at California, 7 p.m. Joey Bustos is the defensive star for La Serna, which likes to be aggressive. Quarterback Andrew Henriquez leads the offense. Pacifica has its own defensive standout in linebacker Caleb McCullough. Running back Malik Sherrod has rushed for 1,335 yards. The pick: Pacifica.
Division 8: Fullerton Sunny Hills (11-2) vs. Santa Barbara (11-2) at San Marcos, 7 p.m. Sunny Hills likes to run the ball behind Jun Ahn. Santa Barbara relies on versatile Deacon Hill, a 6-foot-4 junior quarterback who has committed to Wisconsin. The pick: Sunny Hills.
Division 9: North Torrance (11-2) at Palmdale Highland (10-3), 7 p.m. It’s going to be chilly. Highland practiced Thursday throwing snow balls on its field. The Bulldogs lost in the Division 10 final last season and want to make amends. Quarterback Damien Pecoraro has passed for 28 touchdowns. Running back Isaiah Creech has rushed for 1,794 yards. North Torrance relies on running back Stephen Bradford, who has eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing. The pick: Highland.
Division 13: Anaheim Esperanza (9-4) at Riverside Ramona (11-2), 7:30 p.m. Esperanza was in the Division 1 championship game in 2005, then lost enrollment when nearby Yorba Linda High was opened. After posting 1-9 records the last two seasons, the Aztecs find themselves in the Division 13 final. Running back Walter Gooding has rushed for more than 2,000 yards. Donte Roby Jr. leads Ramona with 1,272 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns. The pick: Ramona.
8-man: The Division 1 final between Ojai Thacher and host Los Angeles Windward will take place at 1 p.m.
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