SoCal Bowl Games: Preseason Rankings

Players such as Rocky Fuga (12) whoop it up after CIF Division II state bowl game last December. Ronnie Flores/ESPNHS

Here’s the breakdown of teams that could be in the running for the 10 berths available in this year’s first-ever CIF Southern California regional bowl games. The winners of the north and south will play for CIF state crowns this season for the seventh time.

This is the third season in which the CIF state bowl games will be conducted with an open division and with no enrollment-based criteria for each division. It’s the first one, however, in which there will be Northern California and Southern California regional bowl games to determine state finalists.

The biggest changes in the south will be due to teams and leagues being shifted around into different playoff divisions within the CIF Southern Section.

As far as the CIF bowl games are concerned, moving the Marmonte League from the CIFSS Northern Division into the Pac-Five Division doesn’t make much of a difference since both CIFSS divisional champions are considered Division I for the bowl games.

It’s perhaps going to be a bigger impact in the move of the Sunset League from the CIFSS Pac-Five into the CIFSS Southwest Division. That’s because traditionally strong programs like Edison of Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos will now be considered Division II for the bowl games if one of those teams were to win the CIFSS Southwest Division crown.

It’s also big news that the Los Padres League is now in the CIFSS Western Division instead of the Northwest Division.

The Los Padres League was the domain of Lompoc last year and this year’s Braves’ team features a wealth of returning starters that went on a 14-0 section title run. Lompoc didn’t get a CIF Division III state bowl bid despite its accomplishments and the Braves wouldn’t get a D3 berth this year, either. If they win another section title, it will have to be in the much-stronger Western Division and they’d be up for Division II instead.

The Pac-7 League also has been shifted from the CIFSS Western Division to the CIFSS Northern Division. It was initially thought that this would shift defending Western Division and Pac-7 champ Arroyo Grande from Division II up to Division I, but the Southern Section additionally has moved its Northern Division down to Division II.

With assistance from Paul Muyskens in the Stockton office, here is a preseason outlook plus preseason rankings for each of Southern California’s CIF bowl game divisions (remember that the two teams that ultimately are chosen to play in the first SoCal open division bowl game can come from any division; teams listed with win-loss records from 2011):


1. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 13-2

2. Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 14-0*

3. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 11-3

4. Bakersfield 13-0

5. Tesoro (Rancho SM) 8-5

6. Alemany (Mission Hills) 8-3

7. Centennial (Corona) 12-2

8. Servite (Anaheim) 10-2

9. Rancho Cucamonga 11-2

10. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 10-2

11. Mission Viejo 10-3

12. Narbonne (Harbor City) 10-3

13. Westlake (Westlake Village) 14-1

14. Edison (Fresno) 10-2

15. Upland 12-1

*Record including forfeits was 9-5.

Bubble Teams: Central (Fresno) 8-3, El Toro (Lake Forest) 12-2, Loyola (Los Angeles) 8-3, Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 4-6, Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 6-4, Poway 12-0-1, Redlands East Valley (Redlands) 11-1, St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 10-3.

Defending Champion: Santa Margarita won the D1 state bowl game, but Westlake of Westlake Village was in the open division contest and lost to Concord De La Salle. Depending on which rankings system you favor, Santa Margarita is either No. 1 or No. 2 in the state to start the season. The Eagles are No. 2 according to ours. Westlake’s odds of getting into the bowl picture seem remote due to graduation losses plus the fact that the Warriors would have to now win the CIFSS Pac-Five Division title to get bowl eligible.

Key Early-Season Games to Watch:

•Santa Margarita could show how good it will be in its first game on ESPN2 against Brophy Prep of Phoenix. Brophy went 12-1 last season….

•Oaks Christian and Westlake are facing CIF Sac-Joaquin Section powers in back-to-back weeks to open the season. It’ll be Oaks Christian vs. Del Oro of Loomis and Westlake vs. Granite Bay up north next weekend. Then the following week it will be Oaks Christian playing Granite Bay and Del Oro facing Westlake in Ventura County……

•Both Bakersfield and Narbonne have high hopes of breaking through this year for either the Open Division or Division I regional bowl games. A critical factor for both teams is how well they do in separate games against Long Beach Poly. If one were to win against the Jackrabbits and one were to lose, that result might end up being the difference in staying home or getting a bowl game berth….


1. Oceanside 9-3-1

2. Helix (La Mesa) 13-1

3. Serra (Gardena) 8-3

4. Lompoc 14-0

5. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 12-1

6. Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 14-0

7. Hart (Newhall) 8-4

8. Edison (Huntington Beach) 8-3

9. Chaminade (West Hills) 10-3

10. Citrus Hill (Perris) 12-1

11. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 9-3

12. Los Alamitos 6-4

13. Garces (Bakersfield) 11-3

14. Arroyo Grande 13-1

15. Tustin 11-3

Bubble Teams: Colony (Ontario) 11-2, Culver City 10-4, Hanford 9-3, Kaiser (Fontana) 8-4, Kingsburg 12-2, La Mirada 8-5, Mt. Whitney (Visalia) 8-4, Summit (Fontana) 13-1, Villa Park 11-1, Washington (Easton) 13-0, West Covina 13-1.

Defending Champion: Helix, which topped Del Oro of Loomis in the state bowl game in 2011, broke a seven-year run of titles in the CIF San Diego Section Division II playoffs last season that was held by Oceanside. This year, Oceanside appears to have more returning talent, but Helix should still be a high-level squad.

Key Early-Season Games to Watch:

•Oceanside’s first game against Oakdale (which like Del Oro also comes from the Sac-Joaquin Section) will be very interesting. Oakdale went 13-1 last season with its only loss to Del Oro….

•Serra’s opener against D1 Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks will show us if the Cavs are going to be comparable to their super teams of 2009 and 2010…..

•Edison’s back-to-back matchups in September against Servite and Mater Dei (both D1) will give an indication of where the Chargers should be ranked compared to other D2 teams. Coach Dave White has to get some receivers and defensive backs to come through, but looks solid up front with guard Miah Frost and defensive ends Derek Baljeu and Garrett Garcia. Chargers’ quarterback Alek Torgersen is another outstanding returnee….

•Finally, watch out for Citrus Hill when it plays J.W. North of Riverside on Sept. 13. Citrus Hill could be very good this season and J.W. North is coming off a strong season in which it beat teams like Alemany and Norco. Twelve starters return for the Hawks, led by quarterback Trevor Hodge (2,115 yards rushing, 738 passing) along with the team’s top two receivers. A 9-1 JV squad also is on the way up…..


1. Monrovia 11-3

2. Paraclete (Lancaster) 11-3

3. Valley Center 12-1

4. Mission Oak (Tulare) 9-3

5. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) 12-2

6. Segerstrom (Santa Ana) 9-3

7. Torrance 8-5

8. Citrus Valley (Redlands) 9-2

9. Madison (San Diego) 10-1-1

10. Wasco 12-2

Bubble Teams: Beckman (Irvine) 11-3, Covina 11-2, Mt. Miguel (Spring Valley) 10-2, Santana (Santee) 11-2.

Defending Champion: Washington Union of Easton made history last year by becoming the first CIF bowl champ from the Central Section. The Panthers not only have a ton of graduation losses to overcome this season, but they’re now in Division III in their section playoffs (no longer Division IV) and therefore would be Division II for bowl game consideration. Lompoc, which also was unbeaten last year and lost in a close vote to Washington for the bowl bid, also will be up in Division II in 2012.

Key Early-Season Games to Watch:

•This division remains the hardest to forecast or to do rankings for in the state. Both Monrovia and Paraclete have been near the top in the last two years, both have very good players returning and both will face big tests in early games. Monrovia’s Sept. 7 matchup against Arcadia and Paraclete’s Aug. 24 contest against Serrano of Phelan are both against bigger schools and both against teams that the two D3 South teams lost to last season….

•Mission Oak, which seems to be the pick by many in the Central Section to replace Washington Union as the D4 champ, will be led by one of the state’s top tight ends, Kevin Palma. The team could be 3-0 heading into a Sept. 28 matchup against Mt. Whitney of Visalia, which looks like one of the section’s best in Division II…..

•Citrus Valley of Redlands really has no business being in a small-school division due to its enrollment, but it’s a new school that will only have seniors for the second year. Before the team gets realigned, it could make a run for a CIFSS East Valley Division title. There are nine returning starters on both sides of the ball, led by quarterback Dalton Douglas and tight end/linebacker Luke Taylor. The Blackhawks open on Aug. 24 against San Gorgonio of San Bernardino….


1. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 15-0

2. Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) 11-2

3. Rio Hondo Prep (Arcadia) 13-1

4. Francis Parker (San Diego) 6-5-1

5. Bishop Diego (Santa Barbara) 11-2

6. Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo) 11-2

7. Boron 10-3

8. St. Margaret’s (SJ Capistrano) 9-3

9. Christian (El Cajon) 10-3

10. Bakersfield Christian 6-5-1

Bubble Teams: Aquinas (San Bernardino) 9-3, Desert Christian (Lancaster) 11-2, Mojave 10-2.

Defending Champion: Sierra Canyon certainly has the potential to repeat as the D4 state bowl game champ, but the Trailblazers also still have the same problem they’ve had in recent seasons and that’s being in the same CIFSS playoff division as Paraclete and other larger schools. They played Paraclete twice last season because the two also happen to be in the same league. The top returnees for coach Jon Ellinghouse include running back Xavier Menifield, receiver Preston White and linebackers Brian Tucker and Jesse Janes.

Key Early-Season Games to Watch:

•Fifteen starters are back at Santa Fe Christian, led by junior running back Tony Miro, and the Eagles will play one of the top CIFSS small schools on Sept. 28 with a game against Bishop Diego….

•You’ve got to love the attitude at Rio Hondo Prep. Coming off a 13-1 season and the CIFSS Northeast Division crown, the Kares are going for it in 2012. They will again feature quarterback Colby Rivera along with the multi-talented Jake Holguin, but this year they are taking on Arcadia (a much larger school) in their first game. Rio Hondo also is playing Parker of San Diego, Mission Prep and Boron during the first half of the season…..

•Sierra Canyon’s first true test will come on Aug. 31 against El Camino Real of the L.A. City Section….

Note: Check later for the Cal-Hi Sports preseason outlooks for each CIF regional bowl game division in the north. If you check back and do not see Cal-Hi Sports content, check our twitter page @CalHiSports or go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/CalHiSportscom/162897664162 for updates.