June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

After waiting game, OC football coaches and players find out their CIF playoff fate

(Photo: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone).

Some Orange County high school football coaches left the field with their teams Friday night not knowing if their seasons would continue in the CIF playoffs.

A number of them were relieved and happy that their squads earned playoff berths, including Ocean View’s first year Coach Daniel Hernandez. The Seahawks (5-5) were selected as an at-large entry and are the No. 4 seed in Division 14. Ocean View (5-5) will host Bolsa Grande Friday at 7 p.m.

Ocean View defeated Bolsa Grande 34-7 in a nonleague game on Sept. 15.

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“As a first-year head coach I am excited for the playoffs but I am grateful and humbled by the amount of work our team has put in,” Hernandez said Sunday. “I give all the credit to our captains Frankie Armenta, Jayden Trujillo, Matthew Bonilla, Angel Adame and Pedro Maldonado for keeping the team focused  no matter what the adversity they have faced.

“Playing Bolsa Grande will be a tough challenge as the season has gone on they have improved and are playing really good football and we have to play a a complete game on Friday night to compete.” 

Bolsa Grande is 6-4 overall and finished third place in the Garden Grove League with a 3-2 record.

“The top end of the bracket is more loaded than anticipated,” said Bolsa Grande Coach Michael Acosta. “However, having played well against a few of those teams we like our chances. We’ll take it one game at a time and are looking to advance. 

“In our previous lopsided Ocean View game we had several sick players, some out with COVID and missing a few key starters. This game should be very different since we are closer to full strength and clicking on all cylinders.”

Reactions

…… Crean Lutheran High School’s football team, which finished third in the Empire League, is on the road for its CIF Division 6 playoff opener at Hart.

“First of all, we are excited to be in the playoffs after our victory over Kennedy on Friday night,” said Crean Lutheran Coach Rick Curtis. “We have a long trip to Newhall on Friday night, but we think it is an evenly matched game. Hart is a very successful established football program. 

“This year they finished third in the tough Foothill League which features Valencia (Valencia) and West Ranch as the teams that have advanced to the CIF playoffs. We are going to have to play well to advance to the second round of the Division 6 playoffs.”

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…. Cypress finished second in the Empire League behind undefeated Tustin,, the league champion, but earned a No. 2 seed in Division 6. The Centurions open up against Rio Mesa at Western Friday.

“I figured that we would be low (Division) 5 or high 6,” said Cypress Coach Rick Feldman. “It looks like a very competitive bracket where anyone could win. We are going to have to play a complete game to advance.”

Cypress lost to Downey in the CIF Division 4 championship game last year.

….. Western’s football team, after winning the Orange League and going 9-1 in the regular season, is on the road Friday at Colony in a Division 5 opener.

“Super excited to be in Division 5 CIF pairings this year,” said Western Coach Dan Davidson. “To be able to play a quality program and an amazing coaching staff lead by Brian Zavala is a huge accomplishment for our team. We played them in 2021 and they eliminated us from the playoffs on their way to winning CIF.

“We’re excited to go on the road and play in their brand new stadium.”

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….. Santa Ana Valley’s football team, coached by Alfredo Macias, which finished second in the Orange League, opens the Division 13 playoffs at St. Moncia Prep (7-3). Santa Ana Valley is 5-5 overall.

“We are excited and proud of the program for making it back into the post season for the second year in a row,” said Macias. “The team entered this season with a young group, but the guys bought in and came together as a team. We made sure to put them through a tough non-league schedule early on and we really feel that helped prepare them for league and now the playoffs.

“Obviously, every game moving forward will be a battle but we are confident that our team will be able to compete with any team in Division 13.”

Santa Ana, the Orange Coast League tri-champion will be trying to bounce back from a 14-0 loss to Orange when it meets Santa Monica Friday night in a Division 9 opener.

“The playoff draw is pretty consistent with our thoughts on where we would land and the kind of teams that would be around us in rankings,” said Saints Coach Rory Schoonmaker. “I think it is a fairly evenly matched field and every game will be a battle. It should be a fun group of teams to compete with.”

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—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com