Forrest Hanlon reaches to make a tackle for Helix, which has wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Open Division.
The San Diego Section has 85 11-man high school football teams. This season, three jump out.
In some order, Mission Hills, Helix and St. Augustine are the top teams.
The 24 voters in the Union-Tribune Top 10 favor Mission Hills as the No. 1 team. But the power rankings, the system that determines the playoff pairings based on a team’s record and its strength of schedule, favor Helix.
With one game to play before Saturday morning's playoff seeding meeting, the Highlanders (7-1) have a 47.25 power ranking and are assured of being the No. 1 seed in the Open Division.
The Open Division is made up of the top eight teams in Division I. The remaining 12 teams form the Division I playoff bracket.
The race in the Open Division is for the No. 2 seed.
St. Augustine (7-2) is second with a power ranking of 46.22 while Mission Hills (9-0) is at 45.44.
The difference between being No. 2 and No. 3 is the opportunity to host a semifinal game.
To hold onto the No. 2 spot, St. Augustine must beat Lincoln (2-7) tonight and root for its other opponents this season — Ramona (4-5), Madison (7-2), L.A. Loyola (8-1), Otay Ranch (5-4), Eastlake (4-5), Vista Murrieta (8-1), Morse (4-5), Cathedral Catholic (5-4) and Mira Mesa (6-3) — to win so the Saints can get the maximum number of points.
Mission Hills has a chance to overtake the Saints, but only if it beats crosstown rival San Marcos (7-2). The Grizzlies would benefit from wins by opponents L.A. Crenshaw (6-3), Torrey Pines (3-6), Long Beach Millikan (3-6), Poway (5-4), Escondido (1-8) and Oceanside (5-4).
Mission Hills’ power ranking, however, is getting killed by the Grizzlies’ Avocado East League opponents — Vista (3-6), Rancho Buena Vista (1-8) and Del Norte (1-8).
“I think Helix and St. Augustine are in the same situation as we are,” said Mission Hills coach Chris Hauser. “We all have trouble scheduling outside of our league.
“You schedule the best teams you can and hope you beat them, then they go on and have a great season.
“In our case, some of our opponents didn't have the type of season they had hoped for.
“And our league is in a little down cycle. There isn't anything we can do about that.”
The other race in the Open Division is for the final two spots, where Carlsbad (6-3) and Oceanside are tied at 44.67.
Grossmont (7-2) is No. 9 in an eight-team field at 44.56 with Poway 10th at 44.44.
Carlsbad plays Ramona, Oceanside hosts crosstown rival El Camino (5-4), Grossmont is at Valhalla (7-2) while Poway is at Rancho Bernardo (7-2).
Those final two spots will definitely come down to tonight's games.
But do you want to be No. 7 in the Open Division and face either St. Augustine or Mission Hills in the quarterfinals? Do you want to be No. 8 and face Helix?
Or would a team rather be the No. 1 seed in Division I and get a first-round bye?
“Our focus the last two weeks was to beat La Costa Canyon (which his team did) and El Camino and see what happens,” said Oceanside coach Dave Rodriguez. “I know there is talk about being one of the last seeds in the Open Division or one of the top seeds in Division I.
“We want to win, then we'll see where we end up.”
In Division II, Valhalla is No. 1 at 45.22. Westview (7-2) isn't far back at 45.11, and Rancho Bernardo (7-2) is at 44.56. Valhalla plays Grossmont, Westview plays Mt. Carmel and Rancho Bernardo meets Poway.
So tonight’s results could decide the top seed there.
Division III has Bonita Vista (7-2) on top at 44.89. Mission Bay (8-1) is No. 2 at 43.44, with Imperial (4-5) and Valley Center (6-3) at 43.00. Bonita Vista hosts Otay Ranch while Mission Bay plays Madison (7-2). A Mission Bay win and a Bonita Vista loss could flip-flop numbers one and two.
Valley Center beat Imperial during the season and should end up the third seed.
Mater Dei Catholic (8-1) is in command of Division IV while Vincent Memorial (9-0) should be the No. 1 seed in Division V.
“The last night, crunching all the numbers, gets a little crazy,” said John Labeta, assistant commissioner of the San Diego Section and the man in charge of the power rankings.
“We ask every coach to get us scores as close to 10 p.m. as possible.
“We want to have everything ready when the selection committees meet Saturday morning.”