Pac-5 Division playoffs
No. 17 St. John Bosco (7-3) vs. No. 12 Alemany (8-2), Friday (7 p.m.)
It’s not a matter of if, but when the Alemany football team will win a Pac-5 Division championship.
Coach Dean Herrington and his brother Rick, the brain trust that helped orchestrate the CIF championship teams from Hart in the 1990s, have taken their act over the hill, from Newhall to Mission Hills, and have built another football powerhouse.
Alemany capped its second Serra League championship and has yet to lose a league game since joining last year. The Warriors are 8-0 in their two seasons in the Serra League. They advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-5 Division playoffs last year.
Alemany, the No. 4 seed, opens the Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs on Friday night against St. John Bosco.
It looks as if Alemany is destined for another semifinal appearance. The Herringtons would like to take another step closer to their first Pac-5 Division championship. They might only be a year away.
Two of Alemany’s top players are juniors. Quarterback Devon Dunn and receiver Steven Mitchell will be back next year with plenty of experience and drive to make a championship run.
Not that Dunn and the good hands clan at Alemany don’t have the talent to make a deep run in the playoffs this year, but the teams at the top of the division are some of the best in the country, let alone California.
Servite, the top-seeded team in the Pac-5 Division playoffs, is ranked No. 24 in the nation by ESPN Rise. Long Beach Poly, the No. 2 seed, is 17th in the West Region poll by ESPN Rise. Mission Viejo, the third-seeded team, is the No. 13 team in the West Region by ESPN Rise.
Alemany lost two games this season by a total of two points. Fortunately for the Herringtons, this team learns quickly. Alemany changed its fortune and won a couple of tight games in Serra League play, including 21-14 over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in the league finale.
These Warriors are close to the top. It won’t take long for them reach the summit and don’t be surprised if they are in the championship game this year. The Herringtons surely won’t be surprised.
Northern Division playoffs:
Palmdale (6-4) vs. Canyon (8-2), Friday (7 p.m.)
Once the dust has settled around the Foothill League, the Canyon football team fell from co-league champ to a tie for third place.
The team used an ineligible player in two games. The Cowboys had to forfeit the initial game the player was in, a win against Saugus on Oct. 14. As a result, Saugus shares the Foothill League championship with Valencia. Canyon drops into a third-place tie with Hart.
All four teams from the Foothill League are in the Southern Section Northern Division playoffs. Canyon plays at home against Palmdale on Friday night.
In all fairness, Saugus should be the No. 2 team from the Foothill League and home against Palmdale. Canyon should have to open on the road and play Highland, co-champions of the Golden League.
But instead of juggling games two days before the start of playoffs, the Canyon and Saugus coaches decided to leave things as is.
The sad part of the story is that Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez was trying to do something special for players who don’t normally get to play.
The player in question was in for one play, a kickoff, against Saugus. He was in for two plays against Golden Valley in the league finale. In both instances, the game was decided and Gutierrez emptied his bench to put in players who don’t regularly play. It was evidently clear that Gutierrez was not using an ineligible player to give his team an advantage in either game.
The sadder part of the story is the seniors on the Canyon football team have to endure another embarassment. Many of the players, when they were sophomores, were thrust onto the varsity team after a number of other players quit the team. That team went 2-8 and won only one league game.
Those kids went from being the joke of the Foothill League to top of the standings in two years. But because a player who didn’t have his transfer paperwork completed properly, the Canyon Foothill League championship was voided.
Canyon lost only one game on the field this season and averaged 40.9 points. The Cowboys surpassed the 50-point mark four times, including against Saugus, 51-28.
Quarterback Jonathan Jerozal is one of the senior leaders for Canyon. He is having one of the best seasons at quarterback in school history. He set the school record for passing with 7,676 yards over his career. He was Canyon’s starting quarterback as a sophomore in that 2-8 season when he passed for 2,124 yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
He has thrown for 2,504 yards with 29 touchdowns and only six interceptions this season. He still has some games to play. If Jerozal can continue his great season, perhaps he can make everyone forget about the one game his team had to forfeit.