Given that the Southern Section has something like 576 teams, including many of the most well-regarded in the state, it seems like the section Web site leaves a little something to be desired. I know I shouldn't criticize; I used to criticize my teachers because their classes left a little something to be desired, and now I'm a student teacher who's totally overwhelmed. But the reason I visited the Web site just now is that tonight I'm going to see Crespi High of Encino, and Crespi belongs to the Pac-5 Division of the Southern Section. Other sections are broken down into Divisions I, II, III and IV or maybe 1, 2, 3, and 4 ... but the Southern Section is broken into the strangest-sounding components. Northwest (X) and Northern (IV) and what-have-you. I haven't followed a Southern Section playoff before, thus my total ignorance of how it works. But I gather the Pac-5, which Encino belongs to, is maybe the toughest division in the section. It's the Pac-5 (1). There are 29 teams in it, leading off with Edison-Huntington Beach (ranked No. 1 in all of Southern California by calpreps). As it turns out, 20 of those 29 teams are ranked in the top 64 in all of Southern California--with Crespi actually being that No. 20/No. 64 team. Loyola, who I saw last week, is No. 10 in the Pac-5 and No. 32 overall.
Crespi's playing against St. Paul--the Swordsmen are ranked 166th overall, but 12th out of 30 teams in the Western (III) division. See, I get that the number in parentheses indicates strength, and therefore the Pac-5 (I) is the division's strongest. What I don't know is--because the Southern Section is so big, does it have more than one Div. I; more than one Div. II, more than one Div. III? Or is Western (III) the only Div. III there is. And if the latter, then why the name 'Western'?
I've seen every team in the Mission League except for St. Paul. I saw Alemany opening week losing but competing well with state title hopeful Oaks Christian; I saw St. Francis third week barely eking out a win against city rival Crescenta Valley (a team they hadn't lost to in nine years but almost lost to this year); and I saw Chaminade last week get crushed by Loyola.
So can I size up the Mission League now? Hardly. Maybe it's because I'm not an X's-and-O's guy, but I don't think most people get a feel from week to week how well different teams stack up against each other. That's why I like citing the calpreps rankings at every opportunity. They're better than nothing. They're not always right, but they're right most of the time, which is pretty impressive.
Having issued that caveat about not really having a feel for how Oaks Christian would stack up against Valencia, for example, despite having seen both of them, I would say this--Loyola looked better than anybody I've seen all year. This is slightly weird, because Loyola lost the previous week to Valencia by two touchdowns, and I saw Valencia earlier in the season barely beat Thousand Oaks, and Thousand Oaks is ranked like 170 in the state. But after seeing Loyola last week, I'm pretty confident that the Cubs could crush most of the teams I've seen. I was really impressed.
Okay, enough of that: This week's scores, and note that one has happened already, yesterday, out in La Canada Flintridge, where it was Crescenta Valley jumping from 299 to 271 in the rankings with a 21-14 win over now-325th-ranked Muir (Pasadena).
No. 90 Chaminade at No. 25 Notre Dame (8th in the Pac-5)
No. 21 Westlake at No. 45 Newbury Park (in a very-good Marmonte League matchup)
No. 44 Alemany at No. 14 Bishop Amat-La Puente (the team that beat St. Paul last week 38-6)
No. 50 St. Francis versus No. 32 Loyola (at L.A. Valley College)
No. 7 Serra at No. 71 Harvard-Westlake (a Del Rey league opener)
No. 166 St. Paul at No. 64 Crespi
No. 2 Oaks Christian at No. 518 Carpinteria
No. 495 Golden Valley at No. 13 Valencia
No. 222 Saugus at No. 267 West Ranch
No. 402 Calabasas at No. 177 Thousand Oaks
LA City Section
No. 339 Cleveland at No. 331 Birmingham (the Patriots are 0-6 but still ranked ahead of Cleveland, because their strength of schedule is that much better)
No. 456 Granada Hills at No. 76 El Camino Real
No. 513 Chatsworth at No. 109 Taft
No. 132 Arleta at No. 589 Van Nuys
No. 364 Panorama at No. 336 Sylmar
No. 254 San Fernando at No. 421 Reseda
No. 280 Poly at No. 609 Verdugo Hills
No. 349 Kennedy at No. 567 Monroe
No. 427 Grant at No. 596 N. Hollywood
One Saturday LA Section nonleague game for an East Valley school
No. 462 Canoga Park at No. 544 Firebaugh--that's out by Firebaugh at Lynwood Middle School