Where to rank Division I state finalists Granite Bay and Long Beach Poly in comparison to teams that lost in the Open Division begins to get interesting. This week’s new CIF State Bowl Game Rankings will be posted on Tuesday.
(After games of Saturday, Dec. 8)
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
(Writeups by Mark Tennis, Ronnie Flores, Harold Abend, Paul Muyskens)
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1. (1) DE LA SALLE (CONCORD) 14-0
Why This Ranking: Well, at this point, the Spartans not only have the state’s longest winning streak (25 games) and not only are they the only team that will be defending a state bowl game crown this weekend but they also are the only team in the state this season that can go 15-0.
Weekend Result: It might have been a big deal to the Sacramento area media that De La Salle was playing previously unbeaten Folsom at Sacramento State, but it reminded us of the first time the Spartans played in Stockton, or in the San Diego area, or at Bakersfield, or in Fresno (which was a win over Buchanan) or in Los Angeles or in Orange County. Heck, even those trips to Hawaii, Ohio, New Jersey or Florida were similar (except that in New Jersey or Florida the outcomes were much different). It is always presented to the locals as some sort of “proving” ground, and at the end of the game there’s just even more coaches, fans and fellow players who come away knowing what those in the San Francisco Bay Area have known for more than 25 years. The Spartans are just that good and it has more to do with precise execution, hard work and first-class sportsmanship than anything else. De La Salle’s 49-15 win over the Bulldogs advanced the team to the CIF Open Division state bowl game for the fourth straight season and to the CIF bowl games for the seventh straight season.
Up Next: For the third time since the bowl games began in 2006, De La Salle will take on Centennial of Corona on Saturday at The Home Depot Centre for the CIF Open Division bowl title. One thing is certain considering the way that the Spartans have manhandled the best from the south in the last three years and that’s that they have not manhandled Centennial. It was a 38-31 win for DLS in 2007, then a 21-16 win for Centennial in 2008.
2. (4) CENTENNIAL (CORONA) 14-1
Why This Ranking: It’s pretty easy to move up the Huskies in front of previous No. 2 Narbonne after they knocked off the Gauchos in last Saturday’s CIF Southern California Open Division regional final. And because of the new regional format in combination with the Open Division, there’s no longer going to be any debate about State Team of the Year. The team’s lone loss in the first game to St. Bonaventure (40-35) seems like it’s from another era and from a rankings standpoint after the last two weeks has been completely overcome.
Weekend Result: Junior quarterback Robert Webber came through with a 14-yard TD pass to fellow junior Tre Watson with just 22 seconds left to lift Centennial to is 41-34 triumph against previously unbeaten Narbonne. The Huskies had to hold on after giving up a 27-8 halftime lead. They scored after Narbonne had tied it up 34-34 with 1:09 left. Webber completed 20 of 37 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns. Two of his longer TDs went to Barry Ward, yet another junior. The Huskies also finished with 567 yards to give them 8,136 for the season and surpass the team’s 2010 state-record total of 8,011. That previous team, though, didn’t get the advantage of a regional bowl game.
Up Next: The only bad news for the Huskies was that big-time offensive lineman Cameron Hunt had to leave the game against Narbonne in the third quarter with what was described as “severe leg cramps.” If Hunt is limited in any way in the CIF Open Division state final vs. De La Salle, that’s going to make it even harder to dethrone the Spartans, who have a dominating defensive front. Given that DLS has won the last three CIF Open Division titles, it looks like Centennial will be the underdog in the game. But maybe since the team didn’t do that well in its last bowl game as a big favorite against Palo Alto in 2010, that could be just what the doctor ordered.
3. (2) NARBONNE (HARBOR CITY) 14-1
Why This Ranking: The Gauchos drop one spot after a heart-breaking 41-34 loss to No. 2 Centennial in a thrilling SoCal Open Division Regional bowl game. Narbonne remains in front of Vista Murrieta because the Gauchos own more quality wins and a head-to-head victory over No. 5 Serra.
Weekend Result: When the Gauchos tied the game with Centennial with just over a minute to go on a three-yard run by A.J. Richardson, coach Manuel Douglas elected to go for a two-point conversion. Richardson is the normal holder, but he was hurt on the touchdown and couldn’t be on the field for the next snap. There were a smattering of boos in the Narbonne crowd after the conversion failed, but there were other reasons why Narbonne lost the game. Trailing 27-8 at halftime was one of them and even if Narbonne would have taken a 35-34 lead, there is no guarantee its defense would have held anyway with the way the secondary was getting burned for huge chunks of yardage.
Up Next: The Gauchos won’t fall much from this spot in next week’s final ratings even if Centennial loses to De La Salle in the open division bowl game. If Centennial wins, Narbonne could land in the No. 2 spot depending on how the Centennial-DLS game plays out in comparison to its score against the Huskies.
4. (5) VISTA MURRIETA (MURRIETA) 13-1
Why This Ranking: With Centennial beating Narbonne and advancing to this weekend’s CIF Open Division state bowl game, it’s only natural to move up the Broncos in this week’s rankings since their only loss was by just 30-28 to the Huskies in the CIF Southern Section Inland Division final. That also was the only loss on the field suffered by Vista Murrieta in the last two seasons.
Weekend Result: Season complete. Did not play.
Up Next: There’s an outside chance that the team’s final overall state ranking could still go up by one spot, but that requires the unlikely scenario of an easy Corona Centennial win over De La Salle.
5. (6) SERRA (GARDENA) 13-2
Why This Ranking: After jumping up five spots the week before, the Cavs move into the top five after defeating previous No. 11 Edison of Huntington Beach 27-10 in the CIF Southern California Division II regional game on Saturday night. Helping them continue to move up also is the fact they have a win over Long Beach Poly and the Jackrabbits will be favorites to capture the Division I state championship. The losses this season were to Chaminade, which they later defeated, and to Narbonne, which lost in the final seconds of the CIF SoCal Open Division regional game.
Weekend Result: Trailing 10-0 after one quarter and 10-7 at halftime, the Cavaliers once again took control in the second half as they scored the game’s final 20 points to earn their way to Carson. Jalen Green’s four-yard touchdown run to open the second half ended up being the game-winning points as Ryan Dobson would later kick two field goals and Malachi Mageo returned an interception 41 yards for a score in the second half. Greene on the night completed nine of his 11 pass attempts for 72 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 106 yards and a score on 13 carries.
Up Next: The Cavs will be headed back to Carson for the third time in the last four years as they will be favored to defeat Oakdale in the CIF Division II state bowl game. After capturing the Division III state title in 2009 with a win over Marin Catholic of Kentfield, the Cavaliers lost in the Division II state final back in 2010 to Folsom.
6. (7) LONG BEACH POLY (LONG BEACH) 12-3
Why This Ranking: The Jackrabbits move up one spot as they continued their hot streak with a 28-7 victory over previous No. 15 Clovis North in the CIF Southern California Division I regional bowl game. Folsom dropped out of the top five after being clobbered by top-ranked De La Salle, but even if Poly soundly defeats No. 11 Granite Bay, the Jackrabbits will remain behind Narbonne and perhaps even Serra of Gardena in the final ratings because of those head-to-head results.
Weekend Result: Poly threw 18 pass attempts in the first half and went into the intermission tied with Clovis North at 7-7. The game was still up in the air when quarterback Tai Tiedemann hit senior WR Brock Meckelborg for a 25-yard touchdown pass on a 4th-and-14 play to give Poly a 14-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. After that gift, Poly’s running game and defense took over, including a pick of Clovis North QB Christian Rossi by reserve DB Jordan Davidson, who was in while standout safety JuJu Smith was being attended to and who had been on the field less than five snaps this entire season.
Up Next: Poly will face a Granite Bay team from the same league in the Sac Joaquin Section (Sierra Foothill) as Del Oro of Loomis, which played Helix of La Mesa in last year’s Div. II bowl game. Helix had too much speed on the outside and Poly’s team speed is similar to Helix’s. The difference is Poly doesn’t pass as well and Granite Bay has a bit more speed than Del Oro did so it could be an interesting game Friday night.
7. (8) ST. JOHN BOSCO (BELLFLOWER) 12-1*
Why This Ranking: The Braves move up one spot this week and land in front of NorCal Open Division finalist Folsom. Had Folsom played De La Salle closer, it might have remained in front of the Braves this week but overall Bosco beat a better crop of teams.
Weekend Result: Did not play. Season complete.
Up Next: Braves’ fans should obviously hope Poly wins the CIF Division I bowl game to help its final rating. Since Bosco defeated Mater Dei and the Monarchs played Narbonne within a point, in all likelihood Bosco won’t fall lower than No. 9 next week, either.
8. (3) FOLSOM 14-1
Why This Ranking: The Bulldogs joined the list of many other teams in Northern California from recent years who ended an outstanding season with having just one loss to De La Salle. Although the margin of defeat against the Spartans was big, Folsom’s margin of victory against quality opponents such as Elk Grove, Buhach Colony of Atwater, Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills and others is impressive enough that the team stays in front of Mater Dei, St. Bonaventure and others in this week’s rankings.
Weekend Result: With the run game shut down and facing an early 13-0 deficit, Folsom had to throw it even more than usual in the 49-15 loss to De La Salle in the CIF Northern California open division regional final. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning’s stats showed that as he ended up 38 of 64 for 282 yards and two TDs. He also was sacked six times and threw three interceptions. Browning ended the season with a new state record of 5,246 yards and had 63 TD passes (which is No. 2 on the all-time state list).
Up Next: Both the CIF Open Division state final between De La Salle and Corona Centennial and the CIF Division I state game between Granite Bay and Long Beach Poly could effect Folsom’s final state ranking. For now, the Bulldogs are an easy choice to be in front of Granite Bay among Sacramento area schools. If the Grizzlies beat Long Beach Poly, though, and De La Salle loses to Centennial, Folsom could slip down a few spots in the next rankings.
9. (9) MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 11-3
Why This Ranking: The Monarchs fall right behind St. John Bosco in the SoCal pecking order because of the head-to-head loss. In the final ratings, Mater Dei also will remain in front of St. Bonaventure since the Monarchs handed the Seraphs their first shutout loss since 1994 in the Pac-Five semifinals.
Weekend Result: Did not play. Season complete.
Up Next: Another team Mater Dei could be in front of in the final ratings is No. 5 Serra, but that would require an Oakdale upset of the Cavs in the D2 state bowl game. A more likely scenario is for Centennial to beat De La Salle or come a lot closer than Folsom did. If that happens, both Mater Dei and St. Bonaventure could come up in front of Folsom.
10. (10) ST. BONAVENTURE (VENTURA) 11-2
Why This Ranking: After having to fall two spots last week, the Seraphs stay put and have a chance to move up a spot or two as they are the lone team this season to defeat a Centennial of Corona squad that is headed to play in the CIF Open Division state championship.
Weekend Result: Season complete. Did not play.
Up Next: Zach Green will be getting plenty of postseason honors after an outstanding senior season while the future looks bright for the Seraphs too. Quarterback Ricky Town is just a sophomore and has already received offers from UCLA and Miami.
11. (16) GRANITE BAY 12-3
Why This Ranking: For the second week in a row, the three-loss Grizzlies make a big move up in the state rankings as they dominated St. Ignatius of San Francisco in the CIF NorCal Division I regional game for a 45-17 victory to earn a trip down south to Carson. Some people in the Sacramento are thinking the Grizzlies should be higher than Folsom and that they would have given De La Salle of Concord a better game in the NorCal Open Division regional game but there are reasons the Bulldogs were selected ahead of the Grizzlies for that game and for now the Bulldogs will remain higher. They will play Folsom early next season in a matchup to quickly determine the top team in Sacramento.
Weekend Result: Jumping out to a 14-0 lead before the Wildcats even gained one yard, the Grizzlies never saw their lead shrink to single digits after that as a running clock was used for the entire fourth quarter of their 45-17 win. John Cooley had his turn to lead the way as he ran for 206 yards and four touchdowns. Aaron Knapp’s 52 yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter made it 38-3 and Taft Partridge scored on a five-yard run to make it 45-10 right before the fourth quarter started.
Up Next: Cooley was hoping to play Long Beach Poly and that hope will come true as the Grizzlies will face No. 6 Long Beach Poly in the CIF Division I state championship game on Friday night.
12. (13) CHAMINADE (WEST HILLS) 12-2
Why This Ranking: In last week’s rankings, we had Edison of Huntington Beach in front of Chaminade since the Chargers were going to play No. 5 Serra. Now that Edison has lost, the Eagles clearly need to go back in front of Edison since they got a win against Serra earlier in the season and their loss in the CIFSS Western Division final was by a much closer score.
Weekend Result: Season complete. Did not play.
Up Next: Another Serra win this week, coupled with a Long Beach Poly win against Granite Bay, would enable Chaminade to move up again in next week’s final rankings.
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