PREP FOOTBALL: John Maffei’s championship game picks


When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Southwestern College

(3) Mater Dei Catholic (8-4) vs. (1) Mission Hills (9-3)
Preview: Mater Dei Catholic, last season’s State Division 2-AA champion, lost its first four games, including to Open Division finalists Lincoln and Carlsbad, but has won eight in a row. The Crusaders have outscored their opponents 336-18 in that stretch. The Mesa League champions are led by QB Dominic Nankil, who has thrown for 2,562 yards and 28 TDs. Nankil has three top targets in Jerry McClure, Rollin George and Surahz Buncom. RB Anthony McMillian averages 8.0 yards on 106 carries. LB Tre Edwards, last year’s CIF Defensive Player of the Year, anchors the defense. … Mission Hills has won seven in a row, outscoring those teams 220-47. QB Keaton Smith, who has blossomed in the playoffs, leads the offense with Jayden Williams his top target. Santiago Salas heads the ground game. OLB Andy Devine is the stalwart of a defense that has allowed 150 points.

Common opponents: Both teams have played La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad and St. Augustine and are 1-2 with the wins over the Saints.

State rankings: Mater Dei Catholic No. 42. Mission Hills No. 46.

Championship game history: Mater Dei Catholic is 6-5 in 11 championship games, including a 37-10 win over Ramona in Division III last season. … Mission Hills is 1-4 in title games with its last appearance a 26-19 loss to Helix in 2017.

Next: Southern California Regional

Prediction: Mission Hills 24, Mater Dei Catholic 21


When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Escondido High

(3) Ramona (8-4) vs. (1) Granite Hills (10-2)

Preview: Ramona, which has won four in a row, is led by a group of two-way players, including QB-OLB Colin Lester, RB-LB-PK Kyle Patenaude, WR-FS Azlan Enriquez, WR-DB Jamil Kassab, WR-OLB Jonny Cohen and WR-OLB Josh King. Lester has 1,145 yards total offense. Patenaude has 50 carries and 37 tackles. Kassab has 29 catches and eight interceptions. Azlan Enriquez has 20 catches and six interceptions. Adrian Enriquez has 73 carries for 494 yards. MLB Kyle Willford leads the defense with 66 tackles while Jacob Raher has 56. … Granite Hills, the Grossmont Hills League champion, has won six in a row. The Eagles use a two-QB system with Nico Tomasello and Parlan Sanders combining for 2,022 yards total offense. RBs Isaiah Jackson, Zak Darling and Maxwell Turner share the load. DBs Jordan Glaz and No’Koi Maddox and LBs Derrek Ibarra and Tyler Bertalan lead the defense. PK Robert Patrich has 12 FGs and 60 PATs.

Common opponents: Both teams have played Poway, Oceanside, Central Union, Madison and Christian and are 3-2 with the wins over Oceanside, Central and Christian.

State rankings: Ramona No. 137. Granite Hills No. 64.

Championship game history: Since the San Diego Section was formed in 1960, Ramona is 3-3-1 and is making its first back-to-back championship game appearances since 1969-70. The Bulldogs lost to Mater Dei Catholic 37-10 in last season’s Division III title game. … Granite Hills is 0-2 in championship games with the last appearance a 28-7 loss to Morse.

Next: Southern California Regional

Prediction: Granite Hills 31, Ramona 21


When: Friday, 2 p.m.

Where: Southwestern College

(2) Point Loma (10-2) vs (1) University City (10-2)

Preview: Point Loma, which has won four in a row, has outscored its opponents 502-163. Maxim Newbegin is the QB, but the Pointers attack behind a ground game. Noah Turbeville averages 11.2 yards on 95 carries. Chase Lowary averages 6.3 yards on 99 carries. The team averages 8.4 yards on 325 rushes. MLB Rocket Robinson leads the defense with 104 tackles. Lowary has 84 tackles and 15 TFL. OLB Max Umberg has 63 tackles and 12 sacks. DT Nate Terzoli has 61 tackles, 21 TFL and 12½ sacks. DB Emmett Jacobson has seven interceptions. … University City, the City League champion, has won eight in a row. QB-RB-DE Samuel Cooper has 1,877 yards total offense and 23 TDs to go along with 57 tackles and 11 TFL. Freshman Quentyn Demara has emerged as a force at QB, allowing Cooper to roam. RB LaDainian Lawrence has 1,156 yards and 60 tackles. Troy Bassler has 40 catches and Dreyden Garner 28. MLB Jack Stahl has 81 tackles, leading the defense. Freshman DB Tay Lockett has 80 tackles and six interceptions. DE Cayden Dawson has 65 tackles, 18 TFL and 14 sacks.

Common opponents: The Pointers and Centurions played on Oct. 15 with UC winning 13-7.

State rankings: Point Loma No. 105. University City No. 125.

Championship game history: Since the San Diego Section was formed in 1960, Point Loma is 2-6-1 and is making is first championship game appearance since 2007. … University City is 0-1, losing 49-21 to Patrick Henry last season.

Next: Southern California Regional

Prediction: Point Loma 28, University City 24


When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Escondido High School

(7) Palo Verde Valley (12-1) vs. (1) Fallbrook (9-3)

Preview: Palo Verde Valley, the Desert League champion, lost its opener 14-13 in OT to Calexico, but has ripped off 12 wins in a row. The Yellow Jackets have won 21 of their last 23, including a 41-19 win in last year’s Division V title game. QB Rio Albanez has thrown just 20 passes. The team averages 10.2 yards a rush on 503 attempts with 61 TDs. Markus Macon has 1,950 yards and 28 TDs. Zavier Bejarano has 1,701 yards and 24 TDs. Jonathan Crow has 838 yards and eight TDs. Macon also has 53 tackles, Bejarano 58 and Crow 52 with 20 TFL and 14½ sacks. … This is Fallbrook’s best season since 2003, with the Warriors 45-139-1 since then. QB Evan Thomas has thrown for 1,048 yards, but the Warriors do their damage on the ground. Chris Bausch has 1,555 yards and 17 TDs in 10 games. Alan Leon has 882 yards and 12 TDs. MLB Thomas McSheehy leads the defense with 17 tackles and 12 TFL. OLB Anthony Thomas has 62 tackles and 10 TFL. George Aguilar has 55 tackles and 12 TFL. NG Angel Angular has 43 tackles, 13 TFL and six sacks. Kaleb Collings has 27 catches as a WR and 46 tackles, 10 TFL and eight sacks.

Common opponents: None.

State rankings: Palo Verde Valley No. 271. Fallbrook No. 208.

Championship game history: Palo Verde Valley is 1-0, beating Mission Bay last season. … Fallbrook is 2-1 with the last appearance a 7-3 loss to Torrey Pines in 2003.

Next: Southern California Regional

Prediction: Fallbrook 28, Palo Verde Valley 21


When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Where: Escondido High School

(3) Classical Academy (9-3) vs. (1) Crawford (11-1)

Preview: Classical Academy’s defense has pitched five shutouts and allowed one score in two other games. DE Trevor Dunbar leads the way with 57 tackles, 14 TFL and eight sacks. OLB Thomas Hinrichs has 48 tackles and 6 TFL. SS Roman Menotti has 46 tackles and seven sacks. QB Luke Sega has 1,207 yards total offense and has 58 tackles. RB Life Pollard averages 10.7 yards on 114 carries. Friday Pollard has 314 yards and seven TDs. … Crawford, the Central League champion, has won 10 in a row. Crawford’s lone loss was to La Jolla Country Day in Week 2. QB Gavin Nguyen has thrown for 1,276 yards and rushed for 379. The team averages 9.4 yards on 310 rushes, led by Hamadi Sharif’s 1,275 yards and Kent Armstrong’s 994. WR Tre’von Blanks has 18 catches for 461 yards and 10 TDs. LB Joseph Minchelo has 148 tackles. 18 TFL, 4 ½ sacks and three interception. DT Omar Musa has 91 tackles, 16 TFL and 5 ½ sacks.

Common opponents: Both teams have shutout Tri-City Christian. Both lost to La Jolla Country Day, Crawford by 19, Classical by seven.

State rankings: Classical Academy No. 419. Crawford No. 392.

Championship game history: This is Classical Academy’s first appearance in the finals. Crawford is 1-4, beating Kearny in 1961, then losing four in a row, the last in 2017.

Next: Southern California Regional

Prediction: Classical Academy 21, Crawford 20

Last week: 9-3

Season: 128-40