Dave Rice 7:30 p.m., Jan. 26
Top four seeds receive first round bye
(1) Helix (9-1)
(8) Torrey Pines (4-6) vs (9) Morse (6-3)
(5) Steele Canyon (7-3) vs (12) Scripps Ranch (3-7)
(4) Mission Hills (6-3-1)
(3) Oceanside (7-2-1)
(6) Valhalla (7-3) vs (11) Rancho Bernardo (5-5)
(7) Westview (7-3) vs (10) Bonita Vista (3-6-1)
(2) La Costa Canyon (8-2)
First Round Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m. (top four seeds receive bye)
Quarterfinals Friday, Nov. 25, 7 p.m. at home site of higher seed
Semifinals Thursday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m. at home site of higher seed
Finals Monday, Dec. 5, 4:30 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium
Favorite (1) Helix
Top-seeded Helix enters the postseason as the best team in the section and the only San Diego team that doesn’t need any help to earn a State Bowl bid. Since losing their opener the Highlanders have been dominant, beating their final nine opponents by a combined score of 439-65 and often finishing games with a running clock. Helix is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and the Highlanders might not be tested even in the section’s deepest bracket.
Sleeper (6) Valhalla
Valhalla could easily be 9-1 if not for narrow losses to Mount Miguel (28-27) and Steele Canyon (17-14), and its other loss came to Helix. Led by dual threat quarterback Frank Foster, Valhalla is averaging 35.3 points per game and won’t have a problem keeping up with opponents. The Norsemen’s big play capability will be a headache for higher-seeded foes.
Star Watch TE Taylor McNamara, Westview, Sr.
Ranked by recruiting service Rivals as the second-best tight end prospect in the country, McNamara lines up all over the field to make plays for Westview. At 6 feet 5 inches tall and 240 pounds McNamara presents a big challenge for opposing defenses and is a huge weapon for the Wolverines.
Early Upset (9) Morse over (8) Torrey Pines
This season the Central League was more competitive than in years past but not competitive enough to earn a home game for Morse (7-3), who finished second behind Kearny. The Tigers instead have to travel north to Torrey Pines, but have a winnable matchup against the Falcons. Torrey Pines has lost two in a row headed into the postseason and should have a size advantage against Morse, but if the Tigers can overcome that a rare playoff win might be in the cards.
Potential Matchup to See Finals – (1) Helix vs (3) Oceanside
Helix presents the biggest threat to end Oceanside’s streak of seven consecutive Division II titles, but that was also the case last year when the Pirates upset the undefeated Highlanders in the semifinals. Division II is deep, but if both teams make it to Qualcomm Stadium it would be their eighth finals meeting in 11 years and would pit Oceanside’s streak against a potential state bowl bid for Helix.
Pictured: Helix receiver/defensive back Jimmy Pruitt