A quick breakdown of the playoff bracket in the Pac-5 Division, the top division in the Southern Section
Seeded teams: 1. Mission Viejo (10-0), 2. Servite (10-0), 3. Alemany (10-0), 4. Bishop Amat (9-1).
At large selection: None.
Dark horse: Santa Margarita (8-2) would have to beat Mission Viejo in the second round, but the Eagles seem to be one of the teams best suited for such an upset. After the second round, everything else is downhill.
Best first-round game: Mater Dei (6-4) vs. Long Beach Poly (8-2) – Two of the most highly regarded programs in the Southern Section – heck, in the state – face each other in the first round. Both have been under the radar after early losses, and Poly would certainly seem to be the favorite on paper. For Mater Dei, it might be all about pride. What the game may lack on the field will be made up in the stands – there should be plenty of fans and strong interest in this game. Although there are a number of outstanding games – Edison Santa Margarita, San Clemente-Lakewood, Crespi-Los Alamitos – the winner of Mater Dei-Poly won't have to play the 800-pound gorillas in the second round, Mission Viejo and Servite.
Best potential second-round game: Santa Margarita (8-2) vs. Mission Viejo (10-0) – Santa Margarita certainly isn't intimidated, and the Eagles moved the ball effectively against Servite's tough defense. They're also a physical group, and would seem to have all the elements necessary to challenge Mission -- including homefield advantage. Whether they can win remains to be seen, but it will be fun to watch.
Prediction: The winner of this division will be a deserving champion. Without question, Mission Viejo has the best offense in the division and one of the outstanding players in Tre Madden. However, defense and special teams are difference makers in the playoffs, and no one does it better than Servite. It was true last year, and it will be true this year until someone actually beats them: Another championship for the underdog Friars.
All games Friday, 7:30 p.m. unless noted
Long Beach Wilson (6-4) vs. No. 1 Mission Viejo (10-0)
Edison (7-3) vs. Santa Margarita (8-2) at Saddleback College
Mater Dei (6-4) vs. Long Beach Poly (8-2) at Veterans Stadium
Tesoro (7-3) vs. No. 4 Bishop Amat (9-1)
Newport Harbor (6-4) vs. Alemany (10-0)
San Clemente (8-2) vs. Lakewood (9-1)
Crespi (7-3) vs. Los Alamitos (8-2), Thursday at Veterans Stadium, 7 p.m.
Long Beach Jordan (6-4) vs. Servite (10-0), site TBA