Semifinal games can be the most emotional. You're one win away from playing for a championship and to fall short is difficult.
Here's the rundown on top Southern Section football semifinals on Friday:
Rancho Cucamonga (12-0) vs. Santa Ana Mater Dei (12-0) at Orange Coast College: Rancho Cucamonga knocked off unbeaten Mission Viejo last week but this challenge is much tougher. Osiris and Amon-ra St. Brown have 19 and 18 touchdown catches, respectively. As good as Rancho Cucamonga's secondary is, somebody better be putting pressure on QB J.T. Daniels. The Cougars will try to keep Mater Dei's offense off the field by using running back Jaylon Redd. The pick: Mater Dei.
Corona Centennial (11-1) vs. St. John Bosco (10-2) at Cerritos College: The Braves lost to Centennial in the 2014 and 2015 Pac-5 finals hurt by turnovers. So the first strategy is to take care of the football. The second is to try to contain running back Miles Reed with St. John Bosco's talented defensive line. And the third is to score lots of points. It should be a great matchup. The pick: Centennial.
Valencia (10-2) at San Clemente (9-3): Valencia Coach Larry Muir is very good at designing defenses to make interceptions against good quarterbacks. The only problem is San Clemente's Jack Sears has just two interceptions all season. Home-field advantage works for the Tritons. The pick: San Clemente.
Murrieta Valley (10-2) at La Habra (8-4): La Habra has gotten hot in the playoffs, but can it outscore an offense that has been close to unstoppable? QB Hank Bachmeier, running back Olita Palmer and receiver Marquis Spiker form an impressive trio of standouts. The pick: Murrieta Valley.
La Mirada (10-2) vs. Los Alamitos (9-3) at Veteras Stadium: La Mirada got its playoff scare last week, rallying to beat La Serna. That's a good sign of a future champion. Los Alamitos has shown major improvement but must take an even bigger leap. The pick: La Mirada.
Edison (11-1) at Rancho Verde (11-1) There's no way Edison players are letting Coach Dave White's final game not be in a championship game. Kenny Carmichael is having a great senior season with 15 sacks. Rancho Verde's Marlon Moorer has more than 1,500 yards rushing. The pick: Edison.
Sierra Canyon (11-0) at Charter Oak (11-1): The Trail Blazers, with running back Bobby Cole and lineman Kanan Ray clearing the way, keep getting better. It also has helped that brothers Daniel and Ronald Kamulali became eligible last month to boost the defense with speed. Charter Oak has a big-time player in Brian Casteel. The pick: Sierra Canyon.
Lompoc (12-0) vs. Corona del Mar (11-1) at Estancia: This could be the best game of the day. It's Lompoc's rushing attack against Corona del Mar's passing attack, led by quarterback Chase Garbers. Can Corona del Mar's defense force enough punts to pull this out? The pick: Corona del Mar.