When the CIF-Southern Section released its at-large selections for the football playoffs Sunday, there was at least one school that had never been there before. One that three, five, 10 years ago, you’d never have expected.
Golden Valley High will make its first-ever playoff appearance in Friday’s first round, continuing a steep upward climb over the last two seasons.
The Grizzlies (6-4), one of five at-large selections in Division 7, will play on the road against Ayala of Chino Hills (6-4), champion of the Palomares League.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
“I couldn’t be happier for the community, the school, everybody who has been a part of this,” said third-year Grizzlies coach Dan Kelley, whose program won its first-ever Foothill League game just last season. “It’s huge for our program.”
Under the CIF’s new competitive-equity-based playoff system, Saugus was on the postseason bubble despite finishing third in the Foothill League, one spot ahead of Golden Valley.
However, the Centurions (8-2) were included in the Division 6 bracket Sunday and will play No. 4-seed Crescenta Valley High of La Crescenta (9-1) at Glendale High at 7 p.m.
The Falcons took first place in the Pacific League.
Hart (8-2), which finished second in the Foothill League by beating Saugus on Friday night, will travel to No. 3-seed Cathedral of Los Angeles for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Phantoms (10-0) used a 24-17 win over St. Francis of La Canada on Oct. 28 to win the Angelus League.
The Santa Clarita Valley’s lone home game went to the Foothill League’s eight-time-defending champion.
Valencia (8-2), the No. 4 seed, will host Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks in a Division 2 first-round game. The Knights finished 5-5 overall and in fifth place of the Mission League, but they received votes in the latest CIF poll.
According to MaxPreps, Valencia and Notre Dame last played in 2011, a 17-14 Knights win.
This year’s rendition is scheduled for 7 p.m.
In Division 13, Santa Clarita Christian (5-5) will be on the road against Sierra Vista of Baldwin Park (7 p.m. kickoff).
The Dons (7-3) finished second in the Montview League.
The Cardinals lost their first four games this season before surging to a second-place finish in the San Joaquin League.
West Ranch, Canyon and Trinity Classical Academy did not make the playoffs this season.
Signal Staff Writer Haley Sawyer contributed to this report.