By Michael Bower
The Poway High football team will hit the road in the opening round of the CIF San Diego Section playoffs for the first time since 2005.
The Titans are the No. 7 seed and will go to No. 2 Eastlake (9-1) Friday in the first round of the newly-formed eight-team Open Division playoffs, designed to have the best teams in the county play for a section championship. Although, due to a flaw in the system, not all of the top teams are in this year’s bracket.
The top seed went to Mission Hills, which beat Oceanside 30-6 in the regular season. The Pirates are the No. 3 seed and will host No. 6 Torrey Pines Friday night. Helix is the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 La Costa Canyon. Steele Canyon is No. 8 and goes to Mission Hills in the first round.
Del Norte was tagged the No. 11 seed in the 12-team Division II field. The Nighthawks (5-5) shared a piece of the Valley League crown for the first time in school history, earning it with a last-second win over Mt. Carmel in the regular-season finale.
The Nighthawks will travel to No. 6 El Capitan (9-1) for a Friday night opening-round matchup. Considering Del Norte is a No. 11 seed, the opponent could have been much worse.
The Vaqueros do have nine wins and a nice balanced offensive attack, but they have not had the toughest of schedules. Del Norte has been challenged all season long with its schedule and pulling off the first-round upset is definitely not out of the question.
The No. 1 seed in Division II is Madison (9-1) and the No. 2 went to St. Augustine (8-2).
Rancho Bernardo did not make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. This is the first year football is doing divisions based on competitiveness rather than enrollment.