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Prep football: CIF Playoff brackets released

Posted: November 10, 2013 4:27 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2013 4:27 p.m.

Valencia head coach Larry Muir talks with his team after Valencia's win over Golden Valley on Friday. The Vikings open playoffs against Redondo Union at home.

 

The 2013 regular season may have concluded, but for the premier football teams in the Santa Clarita Valley the real challenges are only beginning.

The CIF-Southern Section Northern and Northeast Division playoff brackets have been released, and with Valencia, Canyon, Hart, Saugus and Santa Clarita Christian taking the field this Friday for their first round matchups there is little time to think about the season that was.

For the Vikings, who face Redondo Union of the Bay League at home in the first round, it’s not just about moving past what’s happened this season — but the last few.

Over the past five years no Foothill League program has enjoyed more success than the Vikings, who have captured five straight league titles while reaching four of the past five CIF semifinals.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, they’ve lost all of those semifinal contests.

“We are treating this week like it’s business as usual,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “All the other stuff that happened you have to throw out the window. Where we finished in Foothill doesn’t matter anymore, it doesn’t matter to anyone else and it definitely doesn’t matter to us.”

While the Foothill League’s solid reputation may not mean as much to Valencia (8-2), who earned the No. 2 overall seed in this year’s bracket, it meant the world to Saugus.

Saugus’ competitive showings in league play, as well as its reasonably strong preseason schedule undoubtedly weighed on the minds of the voters. And after two big wins at the end of the season moved the Centurions to 5-5, Saugus was able to show enough to get the nod as an at-large bid.

For the Centurions, the 2013 playoffs begin on the road against a formidable Atascadero squad that finished first in the Pac-7 and enters the playoffs as the No. 3 overall seed.

“This team is extremely physical, very well coached, and extremely disciplined,” said Centurions head coach Jason Bornn. “Traveling four or so hours on the road will also prove to be a challenge for us.”

The Centurions are fortunate in that they have gotten healthy at the right time. After injuries to backfield players caused the Saugus running game to hit a slight lull during the middle of the season, senior running back Reid Rupe is back to full health and playing his best football at the right time.

That’s a stark contradiction to a Hart Indians team that enters playoff competition losers of two straight.

After going 8-0 to begin a season characterized by championship-or-bust expectations, the Indians walk into Friday’s road showdown with Pac-7 second-place finisher Paso Robles in need of a quick turnaround.

Rounding out things for Foothill League playoff competitors is Canyon (8-2).

The Cowboys enter their first round home contest against Bay League third-place finisher West Torrance (8-2) riding high after their dramatic 45-38 win over Hart last Friday.

The Cowboys have no problem scoring points, but have struggled with closing games all season. That trend will have to change if the Cowboys hope to make it past a Warriors team that has won its last two contests by a combined 85-13 margin.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, having a signal caller like Cade Apsay can only be a confidence booster. Apsay has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,779 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, adding another 432 yards and four touchdowns with his feet.  

In the CIF-SS Northeast Division bracket the SCCS Cardinals were given the nod as an at-large bid after finishing the season 5-5 and placing third in the San Joaquin league.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, their reward is a date with No. 1 seed Mission Prep (8-2).

All games on Friday will begin at 7:30 p.m.

ernie@signalscv.com   

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