Prep football: Parity makes City’s Open Division a wide open title chase

Peyton Waters of Birmingham looks like he's going to make a great catch.
Peyton Waters of Birmingham looks like he’s going to make a great catch. He does to make an interception against Venice.
(Craig Weston)

It had never happened in City Section football history until Thursday night.

The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the Open Division, San Pedro and Venice, were eliminated in overtime by No. 8 Eagle Rock and No. 7 Lake Balboa Birmingham in opening-round playoff games.

“I think San Pedro and Venice were odds-on favorites to meet in the finals and to have the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds win and take them to overtime is pretty remarkable,” Eagle Rock coach Andy Moran said.

The No. 3 seed, Wilmington Banning, barely survived 25-24 over Roosevelt. No. 4 Garfield defeated No. 5 Franklin 50-29.

Parity has definitely arrived in the Open Division, which makes next Friday’s semifinals another night of uncertainty. Birmingham will play at Banning and Eagle Rock will be at Garfield. The winners will play Nov. 26 for the title at L.A. Valley College.

“I think this is competitive equity and parity at its finest,” Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez said.

The City Section joined the Southern Section in waiting until after the regular season was completed to put together its playoff divisions while using’s power rankings as a guide for seedings. At least in the Open Divisions, it has worked to near perfection.

Kickers coming through: Former soccer players turned kickers are producing in the playoffs. Birmingham’s Jacy Oliva had field goals of 39 and 26 yards in a 28-27 double overtime win over Venice, including tying the game in regulation with 9.6 seconds left.


In a 38-28 win over Redlands Citrus Valley, Ryon Sayeri of West Hills Chaminade kicked a 49-yard field goal. He’s 11 of 13 on field goals this season and 45 of 45 on conversion kicks.

Breakthrough win: Mission Viejo ended Corona Centennial’s 14 consecutive seasons of reaching the Southern Section playoff semifinals with a 31-28 quarterfinal win in the Division 1 playoffs. Quarterback Kadin Semonza passed for 294 yards and two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass.

Mission Viejo came in with a 9-1 record but had been largely forgotten after falling short on its biggest test, a 35-30 loss to Long Beach Poly on Sept. 2. The Diablos apparently got better and now get to host Bellflower St. John Bosco in Friday’s semifinals. Mission Viejo coach Chad Johnson used to be the Braves’ offensive coordinator.

Inglewood wins: In Division 2, there are three Mission League teams still alive — Chaminade, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and La Puente Bishop Amat. The fourth team is unbeaten Inglewood (12-0), which isn’t going away. The Sentinels rallied for a 13-7 road victory over Rancho Cucamonga. They will host Chaminade in the semifinals.

Sophomore quarterback Husan Longstreet threw two touchdown passes to Terrell Bradshaw to help Inglewood come back from a 7-0 halftime deficit.

Stanley goes wild: In City Section Division I, teams are having a hard time dealing with Utah-bound speedster Dijon Stanley of Granada Hills. Running out of the double-wing formation, all Stanley needs is a little opening and he’s gone. He rushed for 256 yards and five touchdowns in a 64-28 win over South Gate.