SUNDAY PICKS ARE IN: Marin Catholic and Sutter will face off and Sutter will get to play close to home.
Saturday’s regional final at Oroville High: Marin Catholic (Kentfield) vs. Sutter
Controversial choice? Not really but Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) ended up with a pretty solid case compared to Sutter.
Bowl history: This will be Marin Catholic’s second bowl game (lost in 2009 Division II state game to Serra of Gardena). Sutter is playing in its first-ever bowl game.
Early Prediction: Marin Catholic 33, Sutter 16. Making the Wildcats travel to the Northern Section for this game is a bit questionable, but it won’t matter. They’re just simply the better team.
Here are the Week 15 CIF Division III North bowl game rankings (completed before this year’s bowl selections were made; after games of Saturday, Dec. 1; previous rank in parentheses):
DIVISION III NORTH
1. (1) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 13-1*
2. (2) El Cerrito 13-1
3. (3) Sutter 13-0*
4. (7) Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 11-2
5. (6) Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 12-1*
6. (10) Valley Christian (San Jose) 7-6*
7. (4) Escalon 11-3
8. (5) Placer (Auburn) 11-1
9. (9) Analy (Sebastopol) 12-1
10. (8) Los Banos 11-2
*Indicates season complete, section champ and eligible for CIF bowl game.
Bubble Teams: Arcata 11-2, Aptos 10-3, Argonaut (Jackson) 11-1, Campolindo (Moraga) 10-2, Carmel 9-2, Center (Antelope) 10-3, Justin-Siena (Napa) 11-2*, Menlo School (Atherton) 10-3, Ripon 11-1, San Marin (Novato) 7-7, Seaside 11-1, Sobrato (Morgan Hill) 8-4, Soquel 9-3, West Valley (Cottonwood) 11-2. *Indicates season complete, section champ and eligible for bowl game. Justin-Siena won its title on Friday night in NCS Division IV final 27-13 against San Marin of Novato.
Case for Marin Catholic: If there were a top seed in the entire state to start off the D3 playoffs, the Wildcats probably are it. They not only knocked off 13-0 El Cerrito to win the CIF North Coast Section Division III title 31-28 on Saturday but they also own a head-to-head win over St. Ignatius of San Francisco, which on Friday won the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title. The team’s only loss is to Vacaville (an SJS D2 playoff team) in a game that the Wildcats lost after losing a fumble while trying to run out the clock. Elite 11 quarterback Jared Goff, the Cal commit, only threw for 124 yards in the win against El Cerrito, but the conditions were awful and he put the Wildcats in front in the fourth quarter 28-21 on a 30-yard TD run. Later, after the Gauchos had tied it up, Goff got Marin Catholic in position with 22 seconds left for kicker Chris Hill to boot a 27-yard game-winning field goal.
Case for Sutter: According to our own Paul Muyskens, there was at least one Sutter coach who made the drive to Stockton to watch Escalon play Central Catholic of Modesto in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D4 final. It’s a good bet any Sutter people went home happy. Central Catholic’s win eliminated any Sac-Joaquin team from getting on the board in this division. The Huskies would have a strong case even if Escalon had won. They are the only unbeaten team in the division and are considered the top team overall in the CIF Northern Section because they have a win over Enterprise of Redding, the section’s large school champion. Sutter also has a win over West Valley of Cottonwood (team that beat Oakland Section winner McClymonds) and Bethel of Vallejo (a CIF Sac-Joaquin D3 playoff team that last year had a win over perennial power Grant of Sacramento).
Case for Sacred Heart Prep: It was only two weeks ago when Sutter was apparently going to be in a debate with Seaside out of the CIF Central Coast Section for a NorCal bowl bid. But unbeaten Seaside fell out of the mix after a loss to Menlo School of Atherton in the CCS Division IV playoffs. Menlo, which lost earlier this season to its arch-rivals from Sacred Heart Prep, then played SHP again in the CCS D4 final on Saturday and lost again 13-7. The Gators also can point to losing their only game to Terra Nova of Pacifica, which was in the CCS Open Division playoffs.
Why not Valley Christian? The Warriors steamed to the CCS D3 crown on Saturday by beating Aptos 51-20. That’s a margin similar to Oakdale’s win over Aptos and the team also only lost in a recent game by three points to Bellarmine. Despite all that, it’s still difficult to envision the section commissioners voting for a team with six losses to get a bowl bid, especially over an unbeaten like Sutter.
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