Cinderella is still wearing the glass slipper.
If it still fits after Friday night is anyone’s guess.
Seven underdogs — seeds six through nine — are still alive in the football playoffs, led by No. 9 Mission Hills in Division I, No. 7 Mira Mesa in Division II, No. 6 Santa Fe Christian in Division III and No. 6 Serra in Division IV.
“We’re in the semifinals, and that’s never a bad thing,” said Mission Hills coach Chris Hauser, whose team finished the regular season 3-6 and plays No. 4 St. Augustine on Friday at San Diego Mesa College.
“This season has been a challenge because we had to replace so many players from last year’s team. Then Erik (Quamme, an assistant coach) passed away suddenly.
“But I’m proud of the way the kids have responded and how they’ve played the last couple weeks.
“Friday we have another opportunity to do something good.”
Mission Hills beat No. 8 seed Rancho Bernardo 20-13 in the first round, then pitched a 14-0 shutout last week in beating No. 1 La Costa Canyon.
Mira Mesa (7-2 in the regular season) beat No. 10 seed San Pasqual 42-12 in the first round, then went on the road and edged No. 2 Poway 28-21 in last week’s Division II quarterfinals.
“When they announced the seeds, I thought we were better than No. 7,” said Mira Mesa coach Chris Thompson. “But we screwed up, losing to Steele Canyon (52-35) and Christian (48-29).
“And the point value for our schedule knocked us down.
“I remember what John Carroll (former Oceanside coach) use to say ... ‘It doesn’t matter what seed you are. It matters how you play once you’re seeded.’
“So I don’t worry about things that are out of my control. All we can control is our attitude and effort.”
Thompson and his staff say they’re trying to change the culture in the Marauders program.
“We’re trying to re-establish discipline and accountability at Mira Mesa,” Thompson said. “The boys have done a tremendous job. We’re excited about Friday and focused.”
Santa Fe Christian, a school with about 350 high school students, isn’t afraid to tackle the big boys, facing schools like Olympian, Mount Miguel and St. Augustine in the regular season and finishing 6-3. But the Eagles beat No. 11 Rancho Buena Vista 49-27 in the first round and stunned No. 3 Monte Vista 27-17 last week in the quarterfinals.
“We had a ton of adversity early in the season,” said SFC coach Jon Wallace. “Three of our top five players didn’t play early. In the St. Augustine game (a 46-0 loss) we had eight players out with injuries.
“But those hard times, playing different kids early has paid off. It has been a fun year because this team is so close.”
The Eagles have faced two of the best running backs in the county the last two weeks — RBV’s Dorian Richardson and UCLA-bound Jahmon McClendon of Monte Vista.
Now SFC heads out to the desert to face No. 2-seeded Central Union.
“The last couple weeks have been like we were in a knife fight in a phone booth,” Wallace said. “Central is a spread team, wide open with guys all over the field.
“There is a reason they’re 11-0 and scored a ton of points (442). They’re good. Really good.
“But we’re healthy now. We’re peaking at the right time, so we’ll see what happens.”
There are three No. 5 seeds still alive — Lincoln in Division II, Morse in Division III and Santana in Division IV.
Lincoln, which has beaten Westview (59-14) and Point Loma (35-21) in the playoffs, plays at No. 1 Granite Hills.
Morse, which has beaten Hilltop (42-14) and Brawley (24-14), meets No. 1 Christian.
Santana beat La Jolla Country Day 76-55 in a record-setting offensive performance in the first round of the playoffs, then edged Mar Vista 23-6 last week.
The Sultans are at No. 1 San Diego on Friday.
by John Maffei