The Southern Section girls’ volleyball playoff pairings were released on Saturday. There is one important question in Division 1: Will any opponent make unbeaten Los Angeles Marymount (28-0) sweat a little?
The Sailors have been dominant so far, led by their two Stanford-bound seniors, Elia Rubin and Kelly Belardi, and Duke-bound Kerry Keefe. They are the No. 1 seed, followed by No. 2 Santa Ana Mater Dei (29-4), No. 3 Lakewood (23-3) and No. 4. Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (26-7).
Marymount drew a first-round bye and will face the winner of Redondo Union vs. Studio City Harvard-Westlake in the quarterfinals on Oct. 27. First-round play begins on Thursday.
Special teams galore: It was a weekend for scoring on punt returns and kickoff returns in high school football. Special teams play was either very good or very bad.
Here’s the rundown from Friday night:
—Chatsworth’s Tommy An had kickoff returns of 82 and 95 yards for touchdowns against Woodland Hills El Camino Real. Dorian Jefferson of El Camino Real also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
—Lake Balboa Birmingham’s Arlis Boardingham had punt returns of 65 and 52 yards for touchdowns against Granada Hills.
—Palisades’ Moses Ross returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Hamilton.
—L.A. Lincoln’s Jaden Rattay had a punt return for a touchdown.
—In the Moore League, Long Beach Poly’s Daylen Austin returned a punt for a touchdown while Long Beach Jordan’s Jordan Washington returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
—Oxnard Pacifica’s Josh Joyner had two punt returns for touchdowns against Lompoc.
—Jaden Mickey of Corona Centennial returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown against Norco that broke open a competitive game.
—Brandon Contreras of Camarillo returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
—Jason Canales of Panorama City St. Genevieve returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.
—Mikey Matthews of Mission Viejo returned a punt from midfield for a touchdown.
It was so bad for kickers and punters that Norco’s Kyle Crum punted the ball twice on a single play (apparently it’s legal). Gardena Serra returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Turning to the run: Coaches Dean Herrington (La Cañada St. Francis), Scott Altenberg (Gardena Serra) and Casey Clausen (Mission Hills Bishop Alemany) love passing the ball, but each has turned to the running game for key victories. St. Francis had an 18-play drive against Santa Fe Springs St. Paul of which 17 were runs. Serra defeated West Hills Chaminade with only 10 pass attempts. Bishop Alemany defeated La Puente Bishop Amat with only four pass attempts and more than 100 yards rushing from Floyd Chalk and Jaylen Thompson.
“It’s the new rage,” Altenberg said, chuckling.
Golden supremacy: Palmdale Highland (6-2, 5-0) appears headed for another Golden League title after a 20-14 win over Palmdale. Brandon Johnson rushed for 246 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Unbeaten Yorba Linda: Yorba Linda is 8-0 after a 30-27 win over previously unbeaten Santa Ana Foothill. Tyler Kovalcin scored the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left.
Perfection: Birmingham started the season 0-5 against Southern Section opponents but is 3-0 against City Section opponents while outscoring them 148-0. Asked if his team will allow any points the rest of the season, coach Jim Rose said, “I hope not.”