Early favorites to get to Carson in December include De La Salle (D1), Vista del Lago (D2), El Cerrito (D3) and Central Catholic (D4). All 20 of the teams we ranked highest last year were all selected to play in last year’s regional bowl games.
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Here are the preseason football Cal-Hi Sports CIF Bowl Game Rankings for Northern California (listed with 2012 season records):
1. De La Salle (Concord) 13-0
2. Folsom 14-1
3. Granite Bay 13-3
4. Palo Alto 8-3
5. Bellarmine (San Jose) 11-2
6. Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 7-5
7. Elk Grove 12-2
8. California (San Ramon) 9-3
9. Serra (San Mateo) 9-3
10. Pittsburg 8-4
11. Del Oro (Loomis) 7-6
12. St. Mary’s (Stockton) 9-3
13. Burbank (Sacramento) 12-1
14. Freedom (Oakley) 9-3
15. James Logan (Union City) 12-2
16. Grant (Sacramento) 5-6
17. Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 12-2
18. Stagg (Stockton) 9-2
19. Franklin (Elk Grove) 12-1
20. Valley Christian (San Jose) 7-6
Bubble Teams: Buhach Colony (Atwater) 10-3, Merced 7-4, Napa 7-4, Rocklin 5-6.
Breakdown: De La Salle, of course, is loaded again, which means it will take a huge upset to prevent the Spartans from winning another CIF NorCal Open Division title and then playing a powerhouse team (probably from among the trio of Corona Centennial, St. John Bosco or Gardena Serra) for the CIF open division state bowl game title. Folsom also is a strong favorite to get back to the NorCal open division bowl game opposite De La Salle. The interesting angle about Folsom, though, will be whether the Bulldogs will need to win the D1 or D2 Sac-Joaquin Section title to become bowl eligible. They are officially D2 for now, but it looks likely that when the section playoffs start that they will be D1. If DLS and Folsom do indeed finish the section playoffs unbeaten, that would set up the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division champion and the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 or D2 champion (depending on which one Folsom wins) meeting in the D1 North bowl game.
1. Vista del Lago (Folsom) 11-2
2. Clayton Valley (Concord) 12-2
3. Cosumnes Oaks (Elk Grove) 9-3
4. Oakdale 14-2
5. Inderkum (Sacramento) 10-3
6. Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 12-1
7. Casa Grande (Petaluma) 7-4
8. American Canyon 11-2
9. Paradise 8-4
10. Rio Linda 8-2
Bubble Teams: Del Campo (Fair Oaks) 9-3, Enterprise (Redding) 9-3, Northgate (Walnut Creek) 9-3.
Breakdown: Although head coach Chris Jones has stepped down, new coach Mike Struebing at Vista del Lago inherits an impressive group of returnees. Junior QB Matt Jimison passed for 2,592 yards and 37 TDs, junior WR Brad Rittenhouse and senior TE/LB Tyler Kaim both caught more than 40 passes and RB Josh Pfeffer rushed for 1,159 yards. Clayton Valley coach Tim Murphy says that his group this year is better at the same stage than last year and may have a stellar junior in Miles Harrison who can step right into the running back shoes of graduated standout Joe Protheroe. The Eagles also play De La Salle in their first game so you’ve got to respect them for just taking on that matchup. The dynamics of this division also don’t seem like they will change much and that is that the eventual CIF North Coast Section D2 champion will play the eventual CIF Sac-Joaquin D3 champion in the NorCal D2 bowl game. It’s going to take a very good Northern Section team to upset that likelihood or a CCS Division II or Division III winner that ends up with some key common opponent wins.
Note about Central Coast Section teams: Due to the CCS having its own open division, all teams from the powerful West Coast Athletic League and other similar schools will be considered Division I for the bowl games during the regular season. Once the CCS seedings are announced, schools like St. Francis of Mountain View last year will probably pop into the D2 bowl game rankings. There is a limit of six WCAL teams that can be chosen for the CCS playoffs (all divisions combined) but a proposal to make it a requirement that all CCS playoff teams need to have .500 records was voted down.
1. El Cerrito 13-1
2. Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 14-2
3. Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 11-2
4. Carmel 9-2
5. West Valley (Cottonwood) 11-2
6. Campolindo (Moraga) 10-2
7. Center (Antelope) 10-3
8. Escalon 11-3
9. Hughson 6-5
10. Aptos 10-3
Bubble Teams: Justin-Siena (Napa) 11-2, Menlo School (Atherton) 10-3, Miramonte (Orinda) 7-5, Placer (Auburn) 11-1, San Marin (Novato) 7-7, Sobrato (Morgan Hill) 8-4, Sutter 13-1.
Breakdown: All three of the top teams in this division are from the CIF North Coast Section and we assume that both Marin Catholic and Cardinal Newman will again opt up to play in Division III and take on El Cerrito, Campolindo and others. El Cerrito has one of the most talented teams in the Bay Area, but still has to prove it can get over the hump and win its division in the NCS. It was hard to rank the next teams in this division. One reason we went with Carmel that high is that in addition to having 16 returning starters the Padres are taking on Palma of Salinas early in the season. Simple case of sink or swim no matter how many offensive weapons are coming back at Carmel. It also looks like West Valley, based on the the players it has back, could replace Sutter not only as the top D3 bowl team from the Northern Section but possibly the best team from the section overall.
Note about Central Coast Section teams: Due to the CCS having its own open division, all teams from the powerful West Coast Athletic League and other similar schools will be considered Division I for the bowl games during the regular season. Once the CCS seedings are announced, a school perhaps like Valley Christian of San Jose last year will probably pop into the D2 bowl game rankings. There is a limit of six WCAL teams that can be chosen for the CCS playoffs (all divisions combined) but a proposal to make it a requirement that all CCS playoff teams need to have .500 records was voted down.
1. Central Catholic (Modesto) 14-2
2. Capital Christian (Sacramento) 10-2
3. LeGrand 11-2
4. McClymonds (Oakland) 9-4
5. Brookside Christian (Stockton) 10-2
6. Ferndale 12-1
7. Willows 9-4
8. Valley Christian (Dublin) 8-3
9. St. Vincent de Paul (Petaluma) 10-3
10. Ripon Christian 9-3
Bubble Teams: Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 5-6, Hamilton (Hamilton City) 9-4, Pierce (Arbuckle) 11-1, Portola 10-1*, Tomales 8-5, Trinity (Weaverville) 5-6.
Breakdown: With its enrollment still below 500, Central Catholic would qualify as a D4 team for the bowl rankings. But based on what the Raiders did against their D4 foes in the NorCal and state games — wins of 42-12 over McClymonds and 66-7 over Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach — the very real possibility exists that the CIF could elevate them (which is in the rules to do so) to Division III. This would potentially take out another Northern Section team like Sutter last year, but if Central Catholic wins its section title and gets bowl eligible no one is going to want to sit through another disaster like 66-7 on TV or at the StubHub Center. A move like that wouldn’t matter to Capital Christian (which will be in the same section playoff as Central Catholic) but it would help teams like LeGrand, Ferndale and Willows in their chances to land one of the two NorCal D4 bowl berths.