The Southern Section Division 2 football playoff openers are so evenly matched that calling a game an upset if the lower seed wins would be inaccurate. There are no upsets for Division 2. All 16 teams are capable of winning first-round games on Friday. That's what makes the division so good. Let's examine.
No. 16 Edison at No. 1 Rancho Cucamonga: Edison is well coached with the ability to pass and run. Rancho Cucamonga is coming off its first loss of the season to Upland, which dropped it out of Division 1 consideration. The Chargers will give Rancho Cucamonga a good game and could win if running back Julius Gillick stays healthy and the Edison defense plays well.
No. 9 Damien and No. 8 Murrietta Valley: Quarterback Bear Bachmeier & Co. are very dangerous. They play well in big games. Damien has shown it doesn't shy away from playing well in the spotlight, having given Rancho Cucamonga all it could handle before losing after a failed two-point conversion attempt. This one could have lots of points scored.
No. 12 Chaparral at No. 5 Oaks Christian: Get ready for a defensive struggle. Home-field advantage could be key for the Lions. Lots of future college players will be showing off their skills. Junior quarterback Dash Beierly has been coming on strong for Chaparral.
No. 13 Palos Verdes at No. 4 Mission Viejo: Palos Verdes plays up to the competition. Just when everyone thinks it has no chance, Palos Verdes wins. That's how you go 10-0 in the regular season. Mission Viejo usually has been in Division 1, so this is a great opportunity for the Diablos to get some relief and while trying to win a section and state title.
No. 14 Bishop Amat at No. 3 Gardena Serra: These two Mission League rivals played on Oct. 13 and Serra won 48-28. There's a history of Mission League teams having rematches in the playoffs, with the team that lost in the regular season winning. But Serra has the best player on the field in receiver Zacharyus Williams. Unless Bishop Amat stops him, go with the Cavaliers.
No. 11 Upland vs. No. 6 Los Alamitos at Westminster: Upland stunned Rancho Cucamonga last week with a stellar defensive performance. Los Alamitos possesses the speed and firepower to win this division, but it's all about which team is most hungry to win a title. Injuries last week will require others to step up for Los Alamitos.
No. 10 Valencia vs. No. 7 Servite at Cerritos College: People are still trying to figure out what happened last week when Servite lost 49-0 to JSerra. That's not the kind of performance you want going into the playoffs. Valencia does things differently on offense with its motion plays, so look for lots of scoring and a close game.
No. 15 Vista Murrieta vs. No. 2 Long Beach Poly at Veterans Stadium: The challenge for Poly is getting its players to raise their level of play after weeks of not so challenging competition in the Moore League. Poly fits in well here. Vista Murrieta is a young team that will be heard from in the seasons ahead. Can the Broncos show enough maturity to give the Jackrabbits a scare?
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.