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    Fryer: Division 1 of the CIF-SS football playoffs will include (pick a number) teams
    • October 26, 2023

    The magic number is 8.

    Or 12.

    Maybe 4.

    Coaches and others (like yours truly) are making semi-educated guesses about how many teams will be selected to Division 1 of the CIF Southern Section football playoffs.

    The team ratings at will be used to place teams into the 14 11-man divisions. The number of teams in Division 1 will be decided Saturday. The playoff brackets will be released Sunday at 10 a.m.

    The regular season concludes with Friday’s games.

    Last season Division 1 was a 10-team bracket that was made up of Mater Dei, Santa Margarita, JSerra, Long Beach Poly, Los Alamitos, Centennial, Mission Viejo, Edison, Orange Lutheran and St. John Bosco. Six teams had first-round byes into the quarterfinals. The four teams that played in the first round were Edison, JSerra, Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita.

    After handicapping the possibilities for these playoffs, the bet here is that Division 1 will be an eight-team division.

    A 12-team division is somewhat possible.

    A four-team division is a longshot but still on the board.

    If Division 1 is an eight-team division …

    Going into this week’s games, those eight teams are (in order of rating): St. John Bosco, Mater Dei, Sierra Canyon, Centennial, Orange Lutheran, Rancho Cucamonga, Santa Margarita and Long Beach Poly.

    San Clemente running back Aiden Rubin, center, sprints to the end zone to score a touchdown against Murrieta Valley earlier this season. The Tritons play Mission Viejo this week. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)

    If it holds that those are the top eight teams in the Calpreps ratings after this week’s games, then Division 2 would start with San Clemente as the top seed.

    The Calpreps ratings going into this week have Long Beach Poly at No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section with a 59.4 rating and San Clemente at No. 9 at 59.0. Poly (8-1 overall) plays Long Beach Jordan (7-2) on Friday in a game that, according to Calpreps’ projections, Poly has a 99 percent chance of winning. Calpreps gives San Clemente (8-1) a 97 percent chance of beating Tesoro (5-4) on Friday.

    If Division 1 is a 12-team division …

    After the aforementioned eight teams, the next four in order of ratings are San Clemente, Servite, Serra and JSerra going into Friday.

    Los Alamitos is No. 13 in the Calpreps ratings at 55.8, behind No. 12 JSerra’s 57.5.

    Before we go further it is important to know that on Friday JSerra plays Servite and Los Alamitos plays Edison.

    A JSerra loss to Servite would drop it to 4-6 overall. Teams with an overall record of .500 are the first ones to receive at-large berths if they are available. Teams with a sub-.500 record can’t be selected for an at-large berth over a team with a .500 record. JSerra needs to beat Servite to get to .500.

    If Los Alamitos beats Edison and JSerra loses to Servite, perhaps Los Alamitos moves to No. 12 and JSerra drops to No. 13.

    If Division 1 is a 12-team bracket and the CIF-SS No. 13 team is JSerra, putting JSerra into Division 2, then JSerra might be out of the playoffs because the No. 1 seed in a division, according to CIF-SS football playoff rules, cannot be an at-large team.

    If JSerra beats Servite and Orange Lutheran loses to St. John Bosco that makes JSerra and Orange Lutheran both 2-3 in the Trinity League. Because JSerra beat Orange Lutheran, JSerra would be the Trinity League’s No. 3 team and would receive a guaranteed playoff berth. Orange Lutheran would be No. 4 team and placed in the at-large pool of candidates.

    Other possibilities exist. Those are a couple of the most likely ones.

    A 12-team division would be popular with many coaches because it likely would encompass all of the Trinity League playoff teams. So would a 13-team bracket, but that doesn’t seem likely.

    If Division 1 is a four-team division …

    Those four teams for sure would be St. John Bosco, Mater Dei, Sierra Canyon and Centennial. The CIF-SS football No. 5 team after Friday might still be Orange Lutheran. Division 2’s group of 16 teams would start with Orange Lutheran but if Orange Lutheran is in the at-large pool, and because of the rule that no division could have an at-large team as its top-seed, then Orange Lutheran would not be in the playoffs.


    San Clemente cross country runner Brett Ephraim continued his great season by winning at the Mt. SAC Invitational Division 1&2 sweepstakes race this past Saturday. The senior finished the 2.93-mile course in 14 minutes, 50 seconds to lead the Tritons to a second-place team finish behind Great Oak. Ephraim will be one to watch in the CIF-SS finals Nov. 18 on that course at Mt. SAC. …

    Edison’s Rich Boyce is the Orange County Athletic Directors Association’s Athletic Director of the Year. Boyce, who is also one of the county’s better boys basketball coaches, is as busy as any A.D. when it comes to promoting his school’s athletic activities on social media. …

    The Canyon-Beckman CIF-SS Division 3 girls volleyball semifinal Saturday at 5 p.m. at Beckman is going to be excellent. Beckman is the No. 1-seeded team in the division. Canyon looked great – quick and strong – in its five-set win over Dana Hills on Wednesday. …

    In other girls volleyball semifinals Saturday: Orange Lutheran is at top-seeded Redondo and JSerra is home against Long Beach Wilson in Division 2; and in Division 4 El Dorado is home against West Ranch and Capistrano Valley Christian is at Sunny Hills. …

    Division 1 girls volleyball pool play continues Saturday. Mater Dei, which is 2-0 in pool play, is home against Sierra Canyon (1-1 in pool play), Huntington Beach (2-0) is at Mira Costa (2-0) and Los Alamitos (0-2) is at Alemany (0-2). All Division 1 teams qualified for the CIF Southern California Regional that begins Nov. 7. …

    Looking way ahead, the Boras Classic South baseball tournament at JSerra and Mater Dei, April 2-5, is worth a look. Among the many great teams in it is Corona, which might be the No. 1 team in preseason national rankings when those are presented. Corona has two great pitchers, junior right-hander Seth Hernandez (6-4, 190), home-schooled the past two school years and who calls “the top pitching prospect of the 2025 class by some margin,” and senior lefty Ethan Schiefelbein, who last season had 94 strikeouts in 55 innings. The sons of Dodgers coach Dino Ebel, junior Brady and sophomore Trey, both standout infielders, transferred to Corona from Etiwanda.

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    ​ Orange County Register