Here are the latest CIF rankings in the Central Division:
1. Summit (8-1, Sunkist League, No. 1 last week)
2. Heritage (8-1, Sunbelt, 2)
3. Kaiser (8-1, Sunkist, 3)
4. Elsinore (7-2, Sunbelt, 4)
5. Rancho Verde (6-3, Inland Valley, 6)
6. Arlington (6-3, Inland Valley, 5)
7. Palm Springs (7-2, DVL, 7)
8. Chino (7-2, Mt. Baldy, 9)
9. J.W. North (5-4, Inland Valley, NR)
10. Paloma Valley (6-3, Sunbelt, eighth)
Let’s take a league-by-league look at the likely playoff teams. The Central Division is composed of five leagues. Each league gets three automatic playoff berths; one at-large bid is up for grabs.
Playoff teams: No. 5 Rancho Verde (6-3, 4-1), No. 6 Arlington (6-3, 4-1), No. 9 J.W. North (5-4, 4-1)
Outlook: Rancho Verde probably will get the league’s No. 1 seed. There’s a three-way for first in the league, and Arlington plays J.W. North on Friday. Rancho Verde beat both of those teams, and it plays Vista del Lago (1-4 in league) on Friday.
Playoff teams: No. 8 Chino (7-2, 5-0), Colony (6-4, 5-1)
Still in hunt: Chaffey (4-5, 3-2), Montclair (6-3, 3-2), Don Lugo (4-5, 2-3)
Outlook: Chino has clinched the league’s top seed, and Colony is in second. Chino plays Montclair on Friday, and Chaffey plays Don Lugo. If Chaffey wins, it likely will earn the league’s third seed.
Playoff teams: No. 2 Heritage (8-1, 4-0), No. 4 Elsinore (7-2, 4-0), Temescal Canyon (4-5, 2-2)
At-large candidate: No. 10 Paloma Valley (6-3, 1-3)
Outlook: The league champion will be crowned when Heritage hosts Elsinore on Friday. Temescal Canyon likely will clinch the league’s third seed when it plays Perris (1-7, 0-4) on Friday. Paloma Valley, which hosts Lakeside (1-8, 1-3) on Friday, likely will earn the at-large berth because it is ranked and probably will finish 7-3.
Playoff teams: No. 1 Summit (8-1, 4-0), No. 3 Kaiser (8-1, 3-1), Colton (3-6, 3-1)
Outlook: Summit, which has already has beaten Kaiser, will likely defeat Colton on Thursday to clinch the league title and earn the Central Division’s top seed. Kaiser probably will secure the second seed by beating Fontana on Friday.
DESERT VALLEY LEAGUE
Here are the playoff scenarios for the DVL. There’s one scenario where Cathedral City, Coachella Valley and Palm Desert finish in a three-way tie for third at 2-3. A coin flip will take place Wednesday to determine who receives the playoff berth if that scenario plays out.
OVERALL CENTRAL DIVISION OUTLOOK
The DVL isn’t rated highly in the CIF rankings. No. 7 Palm Springs is the only team from the desert ranked in the Central Division. That will affect the teams’ placement in the playoff bracket when it’s released Sunday.
It looks likely that the DVL’s third seed will face one of the top four overall seeds in the first round. Other probable candidates include Colton (Sunkist No. 3) and the Mt. Baldy League’s third seed.
The DVL’s second seed likely won’t get a home game. Eight teams host first-round games, and with five leagues comprising the Central Division, two second-place finishers will have to go on the road. Those teams going on the road probably will hail from the DVL and Mt. Baldy League, which each have only one team ranked in the CIF Central Division poll (No. 7 Palm Springs and No. 8 Chino, respectively). A possible opponent is the second-place finisher in the Inland Valley League (Arlington or J.W. North) or Elsinore (if it loses to Heritage and drops out of the top four overall seeds).
Palm Springs, the DVL’s top seed, likely will host a team that finished third in a deep league, perhaps J.W. North or Arlington (Inland Valley) or Temescal Canyon (Sunbelt).