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This week’s top Southern California regional football bowl games

Gardena Serra quarterback Maalik Murphy drops back to pass.
Quarterback Maalik Murphy will lead Gardena Serra into the Southern California Division 1-A regional bowl game Saturday.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

A look at this week’s top Southern California regional football bowl games:

Friday

Division 1-AA: San Diego Cathedral (9-2) vs. Orange Lutheran (10-4) at Orange Coast College, 7:30 p.m.

Every week, Orange Lutheran seems to get a little better, which comes as no surprise since first-year coach Rod Sherman was hired only weeks before the season. The Lancers again need to contain a good rushing attack, but their offensive balance with quarterback Logan Gonzalez and running back Desmin Jackson will be decisive. The pick: Orange Lutheran.

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Division 5-AA: Bakersfield Independence (8-6) at Venice (8-3), 7:30 p.m.

City Section teams did not perform well playing teams outside their section. Venice will try to prove it has improved behind a defense that has been effective for more than a month. Independence started the season 0-6 and has won eight straight. It has two 1,000-yard rushers, so the Gondoliers will need to stop the run. The pick: Venice.

Saturday

Division 1-A: Long Beach Poly (11-3) at Gardena Serra (9-4), 7:30 p.m.

Poly’s big, powerful offensive line will need to come through. Serra is very tough to beat when healthy, and the Cavaliers have their big-time players ready to go in Maalik Murphy and Rodrick Pleasant. These two programs always play close games decided in the fourth quarter. It will come down to which team can run the ball most effectively. The pick: Serra.

Division 3-A: Lake Balboa Birmingham (8-5) at San Diego Patrick Henry (10-2), 6 p.m.

The CalPreps.com computer doesn’t seem to be giving Birmingham too much respect since its 0-5 start against non-City Section teams. But the Patriots are healthy, have shown tremendous defensive improvement and are getting outstanding play from their four-year starters — Arlis Boardingham, Delamonte Barnes and Carlos Rivera. Elijah Lux for Henry has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards. The pick: Birmingham.


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