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Morrissette on football: Southern Section Division 1/2 playoff split a success for now

Scorebook Live California reporter Connor Morrissette gives his thoughts on high school football in the region.
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Every week, Scoreboook Live California reporter Connor Morrissette writes a column highlighting the top performers and the most intriguing storylines in Southern California high school football. You can find his column archive here.

The CIF Southern Section deserves credit. Last season, the first round of the Division 1 football playoffs only produced a single one-possession game. For years, those first round games just weren't competitive. The Section recognized that the high volume of blowouts was an issue and they took action.

This season is year one of the Division 1/2 split. Twenty-four teams make up Division 1 and 2 with the top eight teams qualifying for the Division 1 playoffs at the end of the regular season. The 16 remaining teams make up the Division 2 field. The idea was that grouping the teams in this way would create more competitive playoff games. Through just one week of the new format, it's clear the change has worked.

There was only one blowout of the eight opening round Division 2 games this year, a stark contrast from the Division 1 first round last season. Long Beach Poly beat Orange Lutheran in overtime. Rancho Verde beat Serra Gardena in overtime. Chaminade's win over Norco came down to the last possession as did Vista Murrieta's win against Notre Dame Sherman Oaks.

For as great as the Division 2 first round was, the Southern Section still has a St. John Bosco and Mater Dei problem on the Division 1 side, and we're going to see it on Friday.

This week Bishop Amat will play Mater Dei and Calabasas will play St. John Bosco. Both teams will probably lose big. In the current world of Southern California high school football, whether the upper Division playoff field consists of 16, eight or four teams doesn't matter. It's a two horse race.

I applaud the Southern Section for creating a format that allows more good teams to compete for a championship. Putting fewer teams up against Mater Dei and St. John Bosco makes sense from a competitive standpoint. I just can't help but feel for Calabasas and Bishop Amat, two league winners that have had great seasons. There's no denying the seven and eight seeds in Division 1 get a raw deal. Both teams were oh-so-close to being the Division 2 favorite.

So what's the solution? I think eventually we'll see a four team Division 1, similar to San Diego's Open Division. If Mater Dei and St. John Bosco maintain their dominance then there are still two teams getting a tough break under that system, so even that isn't perfect.

Mater Dei and St. John Bosco are truly in a class of their own. If it continues, will it ever come time for the Section to treat them as such?

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Let's get into the weekly breakdown.

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TOP PERFORMER

In Chaminade's 46-44 first round playoff win over Norco, Willy Camacho rushed for five touchdowns and and caught a sixth with 19 seconds left to clinch an upset win for the Eagles. So far this season Camacho has 22 touchdowns in 11 games.

BEST FINISH

In Long Beach Poly's 27-24 overtime win over Orange Lutheran, Mehki Jordan ran for a ten-yard game-winning touchdown. It's rare to see walk-off wins in high school football, but that's exactly what we got from Poly.

BEST PLAY

In Sierra Canyon's 35-21 win over Santa Margarita, junior defensive back DJ Harvey intercepted a Colt Fulton pass and returned it for a touchdown to put the Trailblazers ahead 35-14. The pick-six changed the momentum of the game.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Legendary Charter Oak football coach Lou Farrar passed away on Sunday following a battle with leukemia. He was 73.

Arroyo head coach Jim Singiser took to Twitter to discuss the impact that Farrar had in the San Gabriel Valley.

“A lot of talk about who is on the “Mt. Rushmore” of SGV coaches and that’s fine," Singiser tweeted. "So long as everyone knows that as far as this discussion goes the mountain itself is named Farrar.”

https://www.sgvtribune.com/2019/11/10/legendary-charter-oak-football-coach-lou-farrar-dies-but-inspired-many/?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_content=tw-SGVTribune&utm_medium=social

THE WEEK’S TOP COMMITMENT

Grace Brethren senior linebacker Josh Henderson committed to Colorado State.

TOP COLLEGE PERFORMANCE

In USC's 31-26 win over Arizona State on Saturday, Trojan sophomore receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown caught eight passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. He's a Mater Dei grad.

On the ASU side, true freshman quarterback Joey Yellen went 28/44 and threw four touchdown passes. He graduated from Mission Viejo last spring.

THIS WEEK'S BOLD PREDICTION

Servite over Mission Viejo