No less than seven teams still alive in the San Diego Section playoffs haven’t been this far in at least 10 years.
Sixteen teams are preparing for eight semifinal games this week, with the computer-oriented seeding process playing out well, but not much differently than when it was with coaches hollering and screaming on Selection Saturday.
El Capitan, the 24th-ranked team in the state, has not been to the semifinals since 1991. Morse is making its first foray since 1996, followed by El Camino and Hoover (2000), Mater Dei (2003), and Castle Park and Rancho Bernardo (2004).
Pairings-wise, the Open Division is perfectly aligned with No. 1 Oceanside (11-0) acting as host to No. 4 Mission Hills (9-2) and No. 2 Cathedral (10-1) welcoming No. 3 Helix (9-2).
The stars also are positioned in D-II with 1 El Capitan (11-0) at home to 4 Brawley (9-2) and 3 Rancho Bernardo (9-2) at 2 San Marcos (10-1). Same for D-IV, with 4 Castle Park (8-3) at 1 The Bishop’s (11-0) and 3 El Centro Central (6-5) at 2 Mater Dei (6-5).
There were some quarterfinals surprises.
Actually, a big surprise when 11 Morse (6-6) shut down 3 Sweetwater’s run-crazy Wing T offense and ushered the Red Devils out, 12-0, ending their winning streak at 19 consecutive games.
D-I No. 7 El Camino (7-5), a loser of 4 in a row at the end of the regular season and outscored 106-28 during that span, won its second straight playoff, edging 2 Steele Canyon, 34-33, on a field goal by Antonio Garcia with six seconds left.
The Wildcats face 5 St. Augustine (6-5) while 4 Madison (8-3) visits 1 La Costa Canyon (7-5).
Morse now tries again against No.2 Christian (11-0) in D-III, while 5 Granite Hills (9-2) goes to 1 Hoover.
FORMER STAFFERS MEET
In surviving a game which saw six lead changes in the second half and 31 fourth-quarter points, El Camino coach John Roberts forged an interesting matchup.
Roberts was on the staff of Richard Sanchez’s at St. Augustine before taking over the Oceanside school’s program this season.