A look at this week’s top matchups in the Southern Section and City Section championship football games:
Southern Section Division 1: Santa Ana Mater Dei (10-0) vs. Anaheim Servite (10-2) at Long Beach Veterans Stadium, 7:30 p.m. (TV: Bally Sports West)
These two Trinity League and Catholic school rivals have never met in a section final, so imagine the intensity on the field and in the bleachers. They played last month in a game for the ages won by Mater Dei 46-37. It comes down to whether Servite’s secondary can do a better job covering Mater Dei’s assortment of talented receivers. There will be lots of scoring and every stop will matter. The pick: Mater Dei.
Southern Section Division 5: Westlake Village Oaks Christian (7-6) at Valencia (7-4), 7 p.m.
Oaks Christian started the season 0-5. Valencia barely made the playoffs as an at-large entry. Now one will be a championship team. Oaks Christian has come on strong behind running back Johnny Thompson, quarterback Cole Tannenbaum and kicker Aidan Flintoft. Valencia has a star in the making in sophomore linebacker Reid Farrell. The pick: Oaks Christian.
City Section Division I: Venice (7-3) vs. Canoga Park (8-4), 7 p.m.
It all comes down to how well Venice will be able to tackle Kayden Collins, who has run for a school record 2,376 yards. Defense is Venice’s strength with defensive end Thomas Kensinger. The pick: Venice.
City Section Division III: Woodland Hills Taft (6-7) vs. Panorama (8-5) at Birmingham, 3 p.m.
Taft coach Jeff Kearin has done a miraculous job revitalizing a program that had a series of winless records. Panorama has been impressive in the playoffs, routing No. 2-seeded San Fernando last week. The pick: Taft.
City Section Open Division: Lake Balboa Birmingham (7-5) vs. San Pedro (10-2) at Pierce College, 7 p.m.
Birmingham started 0-5 against Southern Section teams but has routed every City Section opponent since then. The defense has been terrific and running back Arlis Boardingham keeps boosting the offense. San Pedro has the offensive and defensive lines to cause problems and must rely on the versatile Robert Sarmiento to create scoring opportunities. The pick: Birmingham.
City Section Division II: Woodland Hills El Camino Real (5-7) vs. L.A. Hamilton (9-3) at Pierce College, 3 p.m.
Forty-eight years ago, Hall of Famer Warren Moon played his final game for Hamilton. Now the Yankees are trying to win a title. They rely on their running game. El Camino Real has a record-breaking quarterback in Ryan Feinberg. The pick: Hamilton.
Southern Section Division 2: Orange Lutheran (9-4) at Mission Hills Bishop Alemany (8-3), 7 p.m.
Alemany hasn’t lost since switching to a run-oriented attack. The Warriors’ defense is also big and quick. Orange Lutheran has made weekly improvement under first-year coach Rod Sherman and has reached peak form behind quarterback Logan Gonzalez. The pick: Alemany.
Southern Section Division 3: Gardena Serra (8-4) at Apple Valley (10-3), 7 p.m.
Serra is always dangerous when it’s healthy, and Texas-bound quarterback Maalik Murphy is just that, along with speedster Rodrick Pleasant. Apple Valley has played a tough schedule to prepare for this moment and definitely deserves to be on the big stage. The pick: Serra.
Southern Section Division 4: Long Beach Poly (10-3) at La Canada St. Francis (10-2), 7 p.m.
Based on enrollment, this game should be a rout. But it’s now a competitive-equity tournament, and Poly must shut down running back Max Garrison to win. The pick: Poly.