The finish line is near for the 2011 high school football season. The cream has risen to the top heading into the Southern Section finals this weekend, and the Inland Empire will be well represented in the three most high-profile divisions. Here’s another look at the top teams in the region.
1. (1) Corona Centennial, 12-1 – After rushing for more than 300 yards in the first two rounds of the Inland Division playoffs, Romello Goodman was held to 248 in a 41-21 semifinal victory Friday night against Rancho Cucamonga at Los Osos High. Next: At Vista Murrieta, Friday.
2. (3) Vista Murrieta, 8-5 – The third-seeded Broncos wilted second-seeded Upland with a relentless pass rush and big plays on offense and special teams, adding up to a 39-18 victory Friday night in the other Inland Division semifinal at Vista Murrieta. Next: vs. Centennial, Friday.
3. (2) Upland, 12-1 – The Highlanders ran into an opponent that wouldn’t budge on defense and wasn’t easy to take down with a ball in their hands. Still, they had a season to remember.
4. (4) Rancho Cucamonga, 11-2 – The Cougars did all they could to stop Centennial but simply didn’t have enough bodies. They should have one of the region's more stout defenses next season, however.
5. (5) Redlands East Valley, 11-1 – If the Inland Division gets a state bowl berth over the Pac-5 next week, they can thank the Wildcats for their regular-season victory against Mission Viejo.
6. (6) J.W. North, 10-2 – Aaron Peck and Marcus Baugh have packed away their football gear and joined the basketball team, where they’re expected to lead one of the top teams in the region (look for those rankings later this week).
7. (7) Rancho Verde, 13-0 – Colony pulled even with the top-seeded Mustangs late in the first half of their Central Division semifinal, but it was all Rancho Verde in the second half of the 42-14 victory Friday night at Rancho Verde. Next: at Palm Springs, Friday.
8. (NR) Summit, 12-1 – Donte Deayon, the Inland Empire’s all-time interception leader, showed he has some offensive moves as well, scoring three first-half touchdowns for top-seeded Summit in a 35-0 victory Friday night against fourth-seeded Serrano in an Eastern Division semifinal at A.B. Miller. Next: vs. Heritage, Friday.
9. (NR) Heritage, 12-1 – Jamal Morrow scored on a 59-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to give third-seeded Heritage a 20-10 lead against second-seeded Citrus Hill, and the host Patriots held on for a three-point victory in the Eastern Division semifinal. Next: vs. Heritage, Friday.
10. (10) Palm Springs 13-0 – The second-seeded Indians haven’t had to play much defense this season, largely because their offense has been so good, but they pinned their ears back against visiting Carter and won the Central Division final, 17-13. Next: vs. Rancho Verde.
Dropped out: Serrano, Citrus Hill.
Just missed: Moreno Valley, Colony, Chaparral, La Sierra, Kaiser, San Gorgonio, Chino, Carter.