5 p.m., Feb. 26
(1) Oceanside (9-1)
(8) Orange Glen (5-5) vs. (9) Hilltop (5-5)
(5) Valhalla (7-3) vs. (12) Rancho Bernardo (1-9)
(4) La Costa Canyon (7-3)
(3) Poway (8-2)
(6) Westview (7-3) vs. (11) Bonita Vista (2-8)
(7) Steele Canyon (3-6-1) vs. (10) San Marcos (5-5)
(2) Helix (8-1)
First Round Friday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m. (home teams listed first)
Quarterfinals Friday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. at home site of higher seed
Semifinals Friday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. at home site of higher seed
Finals Saturday, Dec. 1, 7:35 p.m. at Escondido High
Favorite (1) Oceanside
The strongest of the five divisions also features the top team in the section in Oceanside, the only team in the bracket that hasn’t lost to a San Diego opponent this season. The Pirates enter the playoffs on a tear, outscoring their last five opponents by a combined score of 237-9 in a span that included three shutouts. Oceanside might not face a challenge in Division II, and a section title would likely see them into the SoCal championship.
Sleeper (5) Valhalla
Few offenses in the section can match the firepower of Valhalla’s spread attack led by senior quarterback Ramsey Romano that is averaging 35 points per game. The Norsemen have won four straight since losing to Helix, and won’t go down in the playoffs without lighting up the scoreboard.
Best of the First Round (8) Orange Glen vs. (9) Hilltop
Orange Glen earned a rare playoff home game by stunning Valley Center in its regular season finale, and the Patriots host Hilltop in the only Division II first round game that doesn’t include a team with a losing record. Both the Patriots and the Lancers will look to establish their rushing attacks early, and this North County-South Bay matchup could go either way.
Star Watch Derek Babiash, Poway, Sr. / Alec Moreno, Poway, Sr.
Few tandems have as much impact on the game as Poway stars Babiash and Moreno, a Division I-bound pair that powers the Titans on both sides of the ball. Arizona commit Babiash is an electric playmaker at receiver and defensive back, while the Nevada-bound Moreno provides power at linebacker and fullback. These two players anchor the defending Division I champion looking to make its mark in Division II.
Looking Ahead Semifinals – (2) Helix vs. (3) Poway
While Oceanside appears a clear-cut No. 1 in Division II, it’s not as clear who poses the biggest threat to the Pirates. Helix and Poway both have section title aspirations, and this semifinal matchup between defending section champions in La Mesa would be a physical, defensive battle. Should the Highlanders and Titans win their openers, this game could be one of the best of the season.
Pictured: Oceanside junior receiver T.K. Dodds