Saturday’s Open Division regional final: De La Salle (Concord) vs. Folsom at Sacramento State’s Hornet Field.
Controversial choice? Not close. Easiest as can possibly be.
Bowl History: De La Salle is in the bowl games for the seventh time (lost in 2006 State Division I to Canyon of Canyon Country, won in 2007 State Division I against Corona Centennial, lost in 2008 State Division I to Corona Centennial, won in 2009 State Open Division against Crenshaw of Los Angeles, won in 2010 State Open Division against Servite of Anaheim, won in 2011 State Open Division against Westlake of Westlake Village). Folsom is playing in its second bowl game (won in 2010 State Division II over Serra of Gardena).
Early Prediction: De La Salle 34, Folsom 30. We’ve got to give the Bulldogs a shot due to their offense, more of a hometown crowd and their improving defense. Still, until someone in the state beats the Spartans, we won’t pick against them.
Friday’s Division I regional final: St. Ignatius (San Francisco) vs. Granite Bay at Sacramento State’s Hornet Field.
Controversial choice? There were no other teams even eligible to choose.
Bowl History: This will be the first bowl games for either the Grizzlies or the Wildcats. Both schools, however, have been successful on the statewide level in other CIF sports.
Early Prediction: Granite Bay 28, St. Ignatius 14. Everyone in Southern California can only talk about the Granite Bay’s two early losses to Westlake and Oaks Christian, but then they turn around and are amazed by how much Long Beach Poly has improved since then. Granite Bay is the same.
Here are the Week 15 CIF Division I North bowl game rankings (completed before this year’s bowl selections were made; after games of Saturday, Dec. 1; previous rank in parentheses):
DIVISION I NORTH
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 13-0*
2. (3) Folsom 14-0*
3. (7) Granite Bay 11-3*
4. (10) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 10-3*
5. (3) Bellarmine (San Jose) 11-2
6. (8) Franklin (Elk Grove) 12-1
7. (4) Elk Grove 12-2
8. (5) Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 12-2
9. (9) Luther Burbank (Sacramento) 12-1
10. (11) Del Oro (Loomis) 7-6
11. (6) James Logan (Union City) 12-2
12. (12) Buhach Colony (Atwater) 10-3
13. (13) Serra (San Mateo) 9-3
14. (14) California (San Ramon) 9-3
15. (15) Freedom (Oakley) 9-3
*Indicates team is eligible for CIF bowl game, section champ.
Bubble Teams: Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 8-5, Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 8-4, Downey (Modesto) 10-2, Grant (Sacramento) 5-6, Lincoln (Stockton) 8-4, Oak Grove (San Jose) 10-1, Palma (Salinas) 8-3, Palo Alto 8-3, Pittsburg 8-4, Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 7-5, San Ramon Valley (Danville) 6-6, St. Mary’s (Stockton) 9-3. Note: All teams on the bubble season complete and ineligible for bowl game.
Case for De La Salle: As usual, for the seventh year of the CIF bowl game rankings, choosing a game for the Spartans will be a snap. They won their 21st consecutive CIF North Coast Section Division I championship on Saturday night by dispatching speedy James Logan of Union City 52-7. Junior QB Chris Williams continued to show improvement with three more TD passes, two to Austin Hooper and Victor Egu took back an interception for an 11-yard TD. De La Salle also will go onto the board in Sunday’s selection meeting as the three-time defending CIF Open Division champion and now has the state’s longest current win streak as well at 24 in a row and counting. DLS would and should be in the Open Division.
Case for Folsom: Well, this one is pretty easy, too. The Bulldogs are the only other unbeaten large school team in Northern California and with their fun-to-watch passing game are the perfect opponent to go up against De La Salle’s outstanding defense. Folsom won its second CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title in three years on Saturday night with a 44-18 triumph over Elk Grove. Sophomore QB Jake Browning threw TD passes to Troy Knox (8, 51 yards), fellow sophomore Bailey Laolagi for a TD pass and scored one himself on a plunge. Browning now has 61 TD passes. Two years ago, Folsom QB Dano Graves led the Bulldogs to the CIF Division II state title. That team also beat Grant of Sacramento in a major showdown for the section title that drew more than 15,000 to Sacramento State’s Hornet Field. The anticipated De La Salle-Folsom matchup could be similar or more depending on weather and on how many watch on Time-Warner TV feed.
Notes about Granite Bay, St. Ignatius: With DLS and Folsom squarely pegged for the Open Division and with no other teams from below Division I that can claim an open bid, the only two eligible teams for the NorCal Division I game would be Granite Bay and St. Ignatius.
For Granite Bay, despite having three losses, the Grizzlies have won 10 straight after a 35-23 victory in the CIFSJS Division I finals on Friday night over previous state No. 18 Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills behind a powerful rushing attack that ran for a total of 549 yards. Many considered Ernie Cooper’s squad the favorite on Friday night but their three losses hurt their state ranking after losing to Westlake of Westlake Village, Oaks Christian of Westlake Village and Pittsburg. The schedule is now filled with impressive wins, beginning with the one against Lincoln of Stockton and continuing with that 37-7 win over previously unbeaten Franklin of Elk Grove in the semifinals. Granite Bay also has now won two straight SJS D1 titles, which historically has been a tough division to repeat in.
For St. Ignatius, its 13-10 overtime win on Friday over Bellarmine of San Jose in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division final was one of the shockers of the weekend. The Bells were going for their fourth CCS Open Division title in five years and their only losses in the last two years were to De La Salle. Bellarmine was stopped late in the fourth quarter on a play at the goal line that no doubt would have won the game. In overtime, the Bells kicked a field goal but the Wildcats answered with a game-winning 10-yard TD run by Elijah Dale. St. Ignatius avenged one of its three losses with the win. The team’s other losses were to Serra of San Mateo and Marin Catholic of Kentfield (yes, the same MC that beat El Cerrito and might now be the favorite to win not just next week’s NorCal D3 title but the state as well).
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