Sacred Heart Prep girls' water polo coach Jon Burke can breathe a little easier. The Central Coast Section seeds are out and St. Francis will be playing in Division I when the playoffs begin this week.
If there was one hurdle in the way of the Gators' winning a record sixth straight CCS Division II crown, it was the Lancers. St. Francis beat SHP for the West Catholic Athletic League regular-season title and did it again Saturday in the WCAL playoff finale.
The Lancers and Gators, however, will be in separate divisions and will be the No. 1 seeds.
Sacred Heart Prep (18-8) should be considered a heavy favorite to not only defend, but join Menlo School and St. Francis as the winningest teams in CCS history with six titles apiece. The Lancers, of course, can be the all-time champ by winning their seventh.
SHP has a bye until Saturday's quarterfinals and will play either No. 8 Willow Glen (15-5) or No. 9 Santa Catalina (17-8). The semifinals look to be a matchup between SHP and No. 4 Castilleja (11-13) with the finals probably Sacred Heart Prep against St. Ignatius, a team the Gators defeated during the WCAL regular season.
The real drama could come in Division I where No. 1 St. Francis and No. 2 Leland (21-5) likely will meet in a rematch of last year's title match. But, No. 3 Menlo-Atherton (14-10) and No. 4 Mitty (15-10) could provide interesting semifinal matchups.
Sixth-seeded Gunn (18-8) could have a say in the semifinals, as well. The Titans are coming off their second straight SCVAL De Anza Division playoff title and should face Mitty in the quarterfinals after opening against No. 12 Carlmont on Wednesday.
Gunn reached the semifinals last year and is hoping to make it to the finals next week. But, standing in the way of that goal is St. Francis.
The boys' CCS tournament has plenty of familiar faces, too, and the results could be just as predictable.
In Division I, it's No. 1 Bellarmine, No. 2, St. Francis, No. 3 Menlo-Atherton and No. 4 Serra as the top seeds. Mountain View, at No. 5, looks to be the only other team capable of reaching the semifinals. In the title match, though, it looks to be an all-WCAL affair between the Bells and Lancers.
In Division II, anything less than a Sacred Heart Prep vs. Menlo School finale would be a surprise. Third-seeded Los Altos could provide Menlo with a test in the semifinals, but SHP is the class of the field. The Gators have been in the championship match nine straight years and have won four of the past five titles -- including last year.
2012 CCS WATER POLO PLAYOFFS
No. 10 San Benito at No. 7 Palo Alto (13-9), 5:30 p.m.
No. 9 Homestead (12-8) vs. No. 8 Pioneer (16-11) at Palo Alto High, 7 p.m.
No. 11 Evergreen Valley (5-17) vs. No. 6 Los Gatos (13-8) at Palo Alto High, 5:30 p.m.
No. 5 Gunn (18-8) vs. No. 12 Carlmont (8-3) at Mountain View High, 5:30 p.m.
Evergreen Valley-Los Gatos winner vs. No. 1 Menlo-Atherton (14-10)
San Benito-Palo Alto winner vs. No. 2 Leland (21-5)
Gunn-Carlmont winner vs. No. 4 Mitty (15-10)
Homestead-Pioneer winner vs. No. 1 St. Francis (22-4)
No. 5 Soquel (23-3) vs. No. 12 Harker (20-6) at Aptos High, 5:30 p.m.
No. 7 San Lorenzo Valley (15-4) at No. 10 Aptos (13-14), 7 p.m.
No. 11 Monterey (20-5) vs. No. 6 Presentation (14-10) at Carmel High, 4 p.m.
No. 8 Willow Glen vs. No. 9 Santa Catalina (17-8) at Carmel High, 5:30 p.m.
Monterey-Presentation winner at No. 3 Burlingame (11-9)
Aptos-San Lorenzo Valley winner vs. No. 2 St. Ignatius (9-14)
Harker-Soquel winner vs. No. 4 Castilleja (11-13)
Santa Catalina-Willow Glen winner vs. No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (18-8)
No. 10 Lynbrook (20-4) vs. No. 7 Monta Vista (15-9) at Mountain View high, 4 p.m.
No. 12 Pioneer (15-11) at No. 5 Mountain View (19-4), 7 p.m.
No. 11 Carlmont (15-8) vs. No. 6 Leland (21-5) at Mountain View High, 7 p.m.
No. 9 Los Gatos (10-15) at No. 8 Palo Alto (18-8), 7 p.m.
Carlmont-Leland winner vs. No. 3 Menlo-Atherton (12-12)
Lynbrook-Monta Vista winner vs. No. 12 St. Francis (12-15)
Pioneer-Mountain View winner vs. No. 4 Serra (13-14)
Los Gatos-Palo Alto winner vs. No. 1 Bellarmine (15-11)
No. 8 Burlingame (11-7) vs. No. 9 Willow Glen (9-14) at Mountain View High, 5:30 p.m.
No. 11 R.L. Stevenson (15-9) at No. 6 Carmel (21-6), 7 p.m.
No. 10 Santa Cruz (13-10) vs. No. 7 St. Ignatius (15-12) at Aptos High, 5:30 p.m.
No. 5 Valley Christian (13-12) vs. No. 12 Sobrato (6-15) at Aptos High, 7 p.m.
RLS-Carmel winner vs. No. 3 Los Altos (16-11)
Santa Cruz-St. Ignatius winner vs. No. 2 Menlo School (14-10)
Sobrato-Valley Christian winner vs. No. 4 Soquel (21-5)
Willow Glen-Burlingame winner vs. No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (22-4)