Parity has come to the City Section Open Division football playoffs, with an eight-team playoff bracket released Saturday that features all teams capable of coming away victorious unlike the days when Harbor City Narbonne was the overwhelming favorite no matter what opponent was in the way.
Unbeaten San Pedro (10-0) received the No. 1 seed, with surging Venice (8-2) No. 2, Wilmington Banning (5-5) No. 3 and Eastern League champion Garfield (8-2) No. 4.
The most intriguing opening matchup has two-time defending champion Lake Balboa Birmingham (6-4), the No. 7 seed, playing at Venice on Nov. 10. Another terrific matchup has No. 5 Franklin (10-0) at Garfield. The other matchups are No. 8 Eagle Rock (9-1) at San Pedro and Banning hosting No. 6 Roosevelt (9-1).
The most influential game of the regular season turned out to be on Sept. 1 when San Pedro defeated Venice 20-7. Venice has since won seven consecutive games, including a 60-14 win over Palisades on Friday night.
“We definitely had our best game of the year in our last regular-season game, and every coach likes that,” Venice coach Angelo Gasca said.
A week off next week will allow all eight teams the chance to get healthier. San Pedro is hoping for the return of injured standout running back Roman Sanchez, who did not play in a 14-7 win over Banning. Venice will get back top defensive back Cody Premer. Banning is waiting to hear if defensive end Seth Fao receives clearance to return.
The City Section is still waiting to finalize a site for its championship game during Thanksgiving weekend. L.A. Valley College remains the top contender.
Divisions I, II and III begin their playoffs next week. Granada Hills is seeded No. 1 in Division I, Monroe tops Division II and Chatsworth is No. 1 in Division III.
Southern Section: The Southern Section football pairings will be released at 10 a.m. on Sunday based on CalPreps.com power rankings. The big question has been how many teams will make up the Division 1 bracket. It could be eight, 10 or 12. The Southern Section requires an automatic qualifier to be the No. 1 seed for each of its divisions.
The top 12 from CalPreps are: 1. Mater Dei, 2. St. John Bosco, 3. Corona Centennial, 4. Los Alamitos, 5. Long Beach Poly, 6. Mission Viejo, 7. Edison, 8. Santa Margarita, 9. JSerra, 10. Orange Lutheran, 11. Gardena Serra, 12. Chaminade.