The formula to qualify for the CIF Southern Section football playoffs is easy. Win more league games than you lose and you get in.
For three local high school teams, the formula more than worked out. Corona del Mar, Newport Harbor and Estancia head into the postseason in their respective divisions this week.
The three programs went a combined 13-2 in league play. The one team that didn't lose in league is seeded No. 1 in its division.
The Sea Kings are top-seeded in the Southern Division, which they won last season. They are the local team with the best chance at playing 14 games again this year.
The Sailors and Eagles look to make runs in the Southwest and Southern divisions, respectively.
The Sunset League's shift from the robust Pac-5 Division to the Southwest Division this season gives the Sailors a shot at winning in the first round for the first time in five years.
Estancia already got a taste of a Southern Division semifinal appearance last year and it brings back a lot of experience to this year's playoffs.
The first local team to play this week is CdM (8-2), the Pacific Coast League champion. The Sea Kings open Thursday against Anaheim (5-5), the third-place team out of the Orange League.
The Sea Kings and Colonists have only met twice in the past, both times in the postseason and both times CdM won. The third meeting between CdM and Anaheim kicks off at 7 p.m. at Newport Harbor High.
On Friday, Newport Harbor (6-4) takes its field against Troy (7-3), the second-place team from the Freeway League. The game is at 7 p.m. and it marks the first date between these schools.
The game also marks the return of the Sailors to the Division VI postseason, which has been known as the Southwest Division since 2006. Newport Harbor, the Sunset League runner-up, won the Division VI title seven years ago before leaving for the Pac-5, which is considered Division I.
Estancia has never claimed a section title, but it fell one game short of playing for one last year. Another playoff run for the Eagles (7-3) begins at home against Los Amigos (7-3) on Friday at 7 p.m.
This matchup features two second-place teams, Estancia from the Orange Coast League and Los Amigos from the Garden Grove League. For the third straight year, Estancia opens the first round at home.
The Sea Kings are expecting a third consecutive deep postseason run. They won the Southern Division last year and reached the semifinals two years ago.
The three-year stretch might go down as the best in CdM's history if it can defend its title. The school won back-to-back section crowns in 1988-89.
Second-year coach Scott Meyer has led CdM to six straight victories. The offense, behind Cayman Carter, a dual-threat at quarterback, is averaging close to 40 points per game during the winning streak.
Carter has passed for 1,541 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has weapons in wide receivers Troy Reese (41 catches for 617 yards and seven touchdowns) and Bo St. Geme (28 catches for 387 yards and three touchdowns).
Anaheim got into the playoffs by winning its last two Orange League games. Anaheim and CdM have one common opponent in Western. The Sea Kings beat Western, 34-7. Western beat Anaheim, 21-0.
Newport Harbor returns to the playoffs for the fourth straight year, its 21st appearance in 27 years under Coach Jeff Brinkley.
While their previous three postseason appearances have ended in the first round, the Sailors figure to get past Troy in the opening round. Newport Harbor has faced one of the toughest schedules and it wrapped up Sunset League play with four straight victories to finish second behind top-seeded Edison (9-1).
Senior tailback Talalelei Teaupa (1,305 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground) and sophomore quarterback Cole Norris (1,270 yards and 15 touchdowns through the air) give Newport Harbor a balanced attack. The Sailors are on track for a quarterfinal game against Villa Park (9-1), the No. 3 seed.
Estancia should also reach the quarterfinals.
The Eagles and Lobos have four common opponents (Loara, Ocean View, Costa Mesa and Godinez). Estancia beat all four, while Los Amigos lost to Loara and Costa Mesa, the fourth-place team from the Orange Coast League. Estancia finished second in the Orange Coast League, its lone league loss to Laguna Beach (9-0-1), the No. 2 seed in the Southern Division.
If everything goes as planned, Estancia and CdM will meet in the quarterfinals.
These two Newport-Mesa schools met in the first round six years ago. CdM came away with a 44-40 victory.
Estancia and CdM scrimmaged before the start of this season. The Eagles, with standout tailback Robert Murtha (1,381 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing), kept up with the Sea Kings back then.