The CIF playoffs are here, and three local teams are ready to do battle in first-round games Friday night.
Santa Barbara received a tough opponent in the Western Division, drawing the Mission League’s third-place team Cathedral and its LSU-bound quarterback Hayden Rettig. The Golden Tornado, co-champions of the Channel League, are battle tested, though. Four teams on their schedule made the playoffs.
Despite losing a chance to win the Channel League outright last week, Dos Pueblos received a home game for the first round. The Chargers take on Culver City of the Ocean League.
Bishop Diego opens the playoffs on the road at South Torrance, which was a surprise at-large entry in the Northwest Division playoffs. Another surprise is Bishop, the division’s top seed, is playing on the road in the first round. The CIF-SS ordered the Cardinals to play all playoff games on the road after it ruled the school violated the undue influence rule. Bishop is appealing the case. In the meantime, it’s off to Torrance.
Cathedral (8-2) at Santa Barbara (8-2), 7:30 p.m. — Santa Barbara puts on the gold uniforms and transforms into the Golden Tornado for the CIF playoffs — a football tradition dating back to the 1920s. The Tornado will be up against a flurry of passes from Cathedral quarterback Hayden Rettig. The 6-4, 215-pound senior, who has committed to LSU, has thrown for nearly 1600 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. He has a host of long, lean and speedy, playmaking wide receivers, led by Ladarius Wiley, Da’Mari Scott and Torry McTyer; they average more than 11 yards per catch. When the Phantoms run the ball, Martaveous Holliday gets the call and it’s usually for long gains. He averages 9.4 yards per carry. Cathedral has scored a lot of points this year, but they’ve also given up a lot. It suffered a 62-26 loss to Chaminade in last week’s game for the Mission League title. Santa Barbara is coming off a solid outing against Dos Pueblos and has had a full week of practice with Eli Hale at quarterback. The Golden Tornado have been involved in a lot of close games this season — especially at home — and should keep this one close. The pick: Cathedral
Culver City (6-4) at Dos Pueblos (7-3), 7:30 p.m. — The Centaurs of the Ocean League have a potent offense with flashy quarterback Xan Cuevas (1599 yards passing, 228 rushing). He’ll face a DP defense that will be out to make amends after the loss to Santa Barbara. The Charger offense will be looking to get better production from quarterback LeShon Bell and its running game in this Western Division playoff opener. If DP can pull off a win, it more than likely would get a rematch with top-seeded and two-time defending CIF champion Lompoc. The pick: Dos Pueblos
Bishop Diego (10-0) at South Torrance (4-6). This is not a misprint; the game is at South because of a CIF sanction imposed against top-seeded Bishop. South didn’t think it would make the playoffs after going 1-4 in the Pioneer League, but the Spartans received an at-large berth on Sunday. “The kids had a good attitude (Monday),” coach Josh Waybright said. “They were excited to still be in it. And to get a home game … unbelievable.” Bishop feels the same way about playing on the road in the first round of the Northwest Division playoffs. Coach Tom Crawford said his players have not let the CIF sanction bother them. “I’ve been very pleased with the way the guys are responding and the way the community has rallied around us,” he said. “The guys understand that they had no involvement with, responsibility for, nor control over what CIF did and, while disappointed of course, they have done a great job on focusing on practicing well, and focusing on winning this next game.” Bishop gets some injured players back for the game. Crawford reported that quarterback/safety Gabe Molina and linebacker Thomas Lash are cleared to go, and running back Jack Gregson and linebacker Adrian Solis could see if action if needed. The pick: Bishop Diego.