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Vikings earn No. 1 overall seed

Valencia, Hart and Canyon learn first-round opponents as CIF releases Northern Division brackets

Posted: November 15, 2009 10:42 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Last season, the Foothill League failed to send a representative to a CIF championship game for the first time since 1997.

This past week, Valencia, Hart and Canyon all laid claim to playoff berths.

Now, their path to starting a new streak has been revealed.

After winning the Foothill League, Valencia earned the top overall seed in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division and will host Thousand Oaks Friday evening.

Hart was the league runner-up and will welcome Hueneme this Friday, and third-place Canyon will travel to Moorpark.

All three games are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.

The Vikings earned the No. 1 overall seed for the first time in school history after outscoring Foothill League opponents 252-24 en route to the program’s second league championship.

The first came in 2004, when Valencia (10-0) earned the No. 2 overall seed in what was then the CIF-SS Division II bracket and went on to reach the championship game.

This year, Valencia will open the playoffs the same way it opened the season: against Thousand Oaks.

“They’re a really good football team,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “They very easily could have been second or third in their league.”

In that first game, Valencia rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to earn a 39-36 victory. The Vikings had trouble containing Thousand Oaks junior quarterback Avondre Bollar, who threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 45 yards and another score.

But the Lancers (5-5), who finished fourth in the tough Marmonte League, might be without Bollar this Friday. He left last week’s game against Newbury Park with an ankle injury late in the third quarter.

Valencia will still have to deal with skilled running back Rickey Minyard and big wide receiver Richard Mullaney.

“They’re physical and very talented,” Muir said. “For a No. 1 seed, I think it’s a very tough draw.”

Hart won its last two regular-season games, and the Indians (7-3) were rewarded with a home game against Hueneme, a team that also finished second in its league.

“We were almost positive we’d get a second-place team,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “We’re happy to get a home game.”

It’s the 21st time in Herrington’s 21 seasons as head coach at Hart that the Indians have made the playoffs.

Hueneme, meanwhile, went 0-10 last season and failed to score more than 13 points in any single game.

It’s been a much different story this year behind the talented junior trio of quarterback Jonathan Barnfather, running back Trashaun Nixon and receiver Leonard Baker.

“They run a spread offense,” Herrington said. “They throw the ball quite a bit. We’ll just have to see how the game goes on Friday.”

West Ranch dropped its season opener to Hueneme 10-8, and Wildcats head coach Sean O’Brien coached under Herrington for several years in the 1990s.

But Herrington said the game was too long ago to cull any tips from his former assistant.

West Ranch, along with Saugus and Canyon, finished 2-3 in the Foothill League, but the Cowboys won a coin flip Friday night at Valencia High School for the league’s third and final playoff spot.

Canyon (2-8) lost its first eight games but beat Golden Valley two weeks ago and Saugus last week.

The Cowboys enter the playoffs hotter than their first-round opponent Moorpark, which started 9-0 but got thumped by Westlake 38-14 in the de facto Marmonte League championship game.

Still, the 2008 Northern Division runners-up will give Canyon all it can handle, with a ferocious defense and a shifty senior running back in Austin Edmonson.

The Musketeers also own sizeable victories over Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and Newbury Park.

This season marks Canyon’s first trip to the playoffs since 2006, when it beat De La Salle of Concord 27-13 in the CIF State Championship Division I bowl game.

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