Mission Hills players celebrate after defeating Helix in the Open Division semifinals. The Grizzlies will play Bakersfield in the Southern California Regional Division I game on Friday.
It had been a crazy five days for coach Chris Hauser and the Mission Hills High coaching staff who tried to figure every angle, every way the State Regional Football Champion Bowl games could go.
In the end, the Grizzlies not only were selected by the state commissioners Sunday to play Bakersfield High in the Division I State Regionals on Friday night for the opportunity to advance to the State Bowl Championship a week later in Carson, they’ll get a home game.
“I wasn’t surprised because everyone forecast that we’d be in,” said Hauser after getting the good news. “We’re honored to be selected because Southern California has so many good football teams.
“Our goal was to win the section Open division, so this is a bonus.”
When Gardena Serra got upset by West Hills Chaminade in the Southern Section playoffs, it produced a ripple effect that probably cost St. Augustine an opportunity to advance.
Serra, a Division II school, had been considered a certain Open division selection if it won its section title, but the Cavaliers lost 38-35, resulting in Division I powers Corona Centennial and Bellflower St. John Bosco being selected for the Open berths.
Section Commissioner Jerry Schniepp said although others were on the board, Division I really came down to Mission Hills, Cathedral Catholic and Bakersfield.
“Winning our Open division meant more than winning a Division I championship,” said Schniepp. “All three teams played a strong schedule — they weren’t just section champions. I think the other commissioners considered wins over Oceanside twice and Helix favorable and the loss, to San Pasqual, as not a bad loss.
“It isn’t just up to me. I argued just as hard for Cathedral.”
In the end, though, Bakersfield (11-2) got the nod over the Dons (11-2), despite Cathedral’s outstanding record in the state playoffs.
“We’re ecstatic to be playing at home,” said Hauser. “Our fans show up and we’re hoping high school football fans from all over the section come. Really, it’s kind of surreal.”
Chaminade’s win over the team considered to be the best in Southern California allowed that school to be selected in Division II. Newhall Hart had a win over Chaminade, so it was the second choice, leaving St. Augustine on the outside.
“Had Serra won, St. Augustine would have had a good chance,” said Schniepp. “That really hurt Saints, but they were still strongly considered.”
The complete selections and schedule:
North: Folsom (14-0, 5-0) vs. De La Salle (13-0) at Diablo Valley College - Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Centennial, Corona (12-2, 5-0) vs. St. John Bosco (14-0, 5-0) at Cerritos College - Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
North: Del Oro (12-2, 5-0) vs. Serra, San Mateo (11-2, 6-0) at San Jose City College – Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Bakersfield (11-2, 5-0) vs. Mission Hills (12-1, 3-1) at Mission Hills HS (San Marcos) – Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
North: – Manteca (13-1, 7-0) vs. Enterprise (12-0, 6-0) at Lincoln HS (Stockton) – Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Chaminade (12-2, 4-1) vs. Hart (12-2, 3-2) at College of the Canyons – Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
North: Sacred Heart Prep (12-1, 4-1) vs. El Cerrito (12-2, 6-0) at De Anza HS (Richmond) – Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Nordhoff (13-1, 3-1) vs. Corona del Mar (14-0, 5-0) at Orange Coast College – Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
North: McClymonds (10-2, 5-0) vs. Central Catholic (13-1, 6-0) at Lincoln HS (Stockton) – Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
South: View Park (13-0, 3-0) vs. Bakersfield Christian (11-2, 6-0) at Centennial HS (Bakersfield) – Friday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m.