Not only does Mission Prep have a chance to win its first CIF-Southern Section division title in school history tonight, a win would also likely put the Royals into the mix for a state bowl playoff berth.
CalHisports.com projects the winner of tonight’s game between Mission Prep and Rio Hondo to play Ontario Christian (who takes on Rim of the World in the East Valley Division title game) in next week’s Southern California Division 4 final.
Maxpreps.com projects Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach to battle Mission Prep if those teams can win their finals’ matchups tonight.
“Right now we’re really just focused on tonight’s game and achieving our goal of winning a CIF division title,” said Royals coach Chad Henry. “Anything beyond is a bonus.”
But the Royals have put themselves in prime position for state bowl contention.
The guidelines that a CIF committee uses to select teams for consideration include win-loss record, strength of schedule and common opponents of top-ranked teams and how teams fared.
The Royals compete in Division IV, which includes schools with enrollments of 500 students or fewer.
Mission Prep would be 12-1 if it wins tonight, having beaten perennial powerhouse Rio Hondo twice. The Kares were ranked No. 2 in the Northeast Division to finish the season and had been ranked No. 1 before the Royals beat them 47-14 in the second game of the season for both teams.
The only team that Mission Prep lost to was Bishop Diego, which won 16-13 with a late score. But the Cardinals lost to North Torrance in the playoffs already and thus have been eliminated from state bowl consideration — teams must win their division titles for eligibility.
The closeness of the Bishop Diego game, which was won in the final minute by the Cardinals, could be taken into consideration by the selection committee.
“There were several plays in that game where, if we just had some breaks or executed a little better, that would have made the difference,” Henry said. “There were fumbles that if we just would have been able to recover, that game could have gone to us.”
But the victories the Royals have registered against teams with some top-notch athletes such as View Park and Salesian, which has four players who are considered Division I college football prospects, bode well.
An expanded format, including more teams this year in the state bowl, means the eventual champion will have to win twice.
In past years, one team from Northern California and one from Southern California were chosen.
This year a regional bowl game will pit two Southern California teams against each other in the first round for a chance at a state final against a Northern California opponent.
Much is yet to be decided, but the Royals have created tantilizing possibilities if they continue on.
We’ll see what happens tonight.