In the 14th week of these rankings in football, the Tri-County Rock League shows some big-time strength, led by El Cerrito, Salesian and St. Mary’s of Berkeley.
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Welcome to the Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area Top 25 compiled in conjunction with the award-winning Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area TV show that is aired every Sunday night on KOFY, Channel 20, San Francisco and during the week on CSN Bay Area throughout Northern California. These rankings are after games played through Saturday, November 30. We have more than 35 years of compiling high school football rankings in Northern California.
Although the second-biggest school in the league is D3 El Cerrito, you can’t knock the Tri-County Rock League and what it’s teams have done this season.
The league’s top dog, El Cerrito, is back in the CIF North Coast Section Division III title game, and like last year, the No. 3 seed will give top-seeded Marin Catholic all it can handle on Friday night at Burrell Field in San Leandro.
Despite finishing just 2-4 in league, Salesian of Richmond avenged a 21-12 league loss to a Valley Christian team that went 5-1 in league by upsetting the boys from Dublin, 19-13, in the NCS Division V championship game Saturday night at Chabot College.
Then, in the NCS Division IV playoffs, a St. Mary’s of Berkeley team that went 3-3 in league just reached the championship game against No. 2 seed Fortuna, after the Panthers took out top-seeded San Marin and its Elite 11 finalist Manny Wilkins, 35-29, on the road in Novato.
With one title under its belt and two teams still alive, the Rock has the possibility of three NCS football titles in one year, a feat never before achieved.
Here are this week’s new rankings:
(Through games of November 30) (Previous ranking in parenthesis)
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 12-0
The big news is that for the first time since the close win over Serra, the Spartans were pressed, for a while. After trailing 14-7, Sparta marched for 36 striaght points and won easily, 57-27. The Spartans have now won 38 straight and go for a 22nd consecutive NCS championship on Saturday night against California at Dublin High.
2. (2) Serra (San Mateo) 10-2
The No. 2 seeded Padres trailed 17-14 at the half but from there the defense took charge and the running game finished it off in a 28-17 Serra win over Bellarmine. In a rematch of a 31-7 Padres’ win in mid-November, Serra now meets Archbishop Mitty for the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title.
3. (3) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 11-1
The No. 5 seeded Monarchs’ defense has been really impressive in the postseason. Mitty knocked off West Catholic Athletic League foe Valley Christian, 37-7, on Friday and has now outscored two CCS Open Division opponents 65-7, justifying our jumping them over Marin Catholic last week.
4. (4) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 12-0
Like they have since the St. Ignatius game in week two, the Wildcats were able to use reserves but it wasn’t as early as in any of the previous nine games. The result was it only padded the numbers of Elite 11 finalist Morgan Mahalak in a 48-20 NCS D3 semifinal victory over Analy. With the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan roaming the MC sidelines, the Oregon-bound quarterback passed for 307 yards and four TDs and rushed for 124 yards and a fifth score on a 52-yard keeper.
5. (6) California (San Ramon) 11-2
With both teams banged up, it was the No. 3 seed Grizzlies avenging a one-point loss earlier in the season with a 31-17 win over Pittsburg in the NCS D1 semifinals. The reward for head coach Eric Billeci and his boys is a date with destiny as California meets Billeci’s alma mater when they take on De La Salle again after losing 55-0 during the season.
6. (5) Pittsburg 10-3**
When Harris Ross scored to close it to 14-7 just before halftime against California, he re-injured his knee and that was it for him and Pittsburg in the loss. Still the overall body of work only drops them behind California and in front of the Deer Valley team they edged 28-24 in Bay Valley Athletic League action.
7. (7) Deer Valley (Antioch) 11-2**
The Wolverines got their wish of playing De La Salle in the playoffs, and they did reasonably well in comparison to other teams in a 57-27 loss to the Spartans. The four TDs by quarterback Nsimba Webster and the 27 points are the most against Sparta this season. No drop in this group.
8. (10) James Logan (Union City) 9-3**
Last week we said the Colts falling behind Clayton Valley might only be temporary but after the way Deer Valley played against De La Salle and the fact Logan put 44 points on the board in the loss to the Wolverines two weeks ago elevates talented young head coach George Zuber and his boys up a deuce and behind Deer Valley.
9. (11) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 7-5**
Here is another case where a D1 team has to move up based on overall body of work, and the fact two weeks ago they only lost 31-24 to a California team that is in the NCS D1 title game.
10. (8) Valley Christian (San Jose) 8-4**
The Warriors were shorthanded again but this second meeting with Mitty wasn’t anywhere as close as the first one.
11. (15) Casa Grande (Petaluma) 13-0
After only leading by one at the half, the Gauchos exploded in the second half against North Bay League rival Santa Rosa Montgomery to win 42-13. The NCS Division II top-seeded Gauchos are the only 13-0 team in the Bay. No, they don’t have a win over Serra like St. Francis does, but they don’t have three losses, either, and the NCS D2 field is just as good or better than CCS D2 (which is the one St. Francis is in).
12. (13) St. Francis (Mountain View) 9-3
The Lancers were a 45-21 winner over Palo Alto in the CIFCCS Division II semifinals but they still have to stay below a Valley Christian team that beat them in WCAL play, also because VC’s loss was in the Open Division. Next up is Los Gatos in the D2 title game.
13. (14) Bellarmine (San Jose) 8-4**
With their showing against powerful Serra, the Bells not only don’t drop after the loss, they get a one-spot bump to stay in front of the El Cerrito team they beat on the road early in the season.
14. (16) El Cerrito 10-2
The third-seeded Gauchos stay behind the Bells and get dragged along for a two-spot bump after avenging a 15-point early season loss to No. 2 seed Campolindo with a 15-point win, in a 49-34 NCS D3 road victory.
15. (12) Campolindo (Moraga) 11-1**
Campo falls in behind El Cerrito but ahead of the Miramonte team they handled easily in league play.
16. (17) Miramonte (Orinda) 10-2
We felt strongly the Mats were a sleeper in the NCS D2 playoffs, since their only losses are to Marin Catholic and Campolindo, and D3 once again is perhaps stronger than D2 in the NCS playoffs. They proved themselves by taking out a Clayton Valley team that chat rooms were trying to figure which opponent it might play in Carson. It was close, in a 44-38 road victory, but the difference was Miramonte had a passing game, as Drew Anderson threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns.
17. (9) Clayton Valley (Concord) 10-2**
It got ugly for the Ugly Eagles in the loss to Miramonte. They can be no higher then right below the Mats but still above Analy. Note: Record does not include one default win.
18. (19) Wilcox (Santa Clara) 9-2**
Season complete two weeks ago but remember this team has a win over Los Gatos with a loss to Milpitas and another win over Manteca of Sac-Joaquin Section. All three of those teams are playing for section titles.
19. (18) Analy (Sebastopol) 11-2**
Looking at the Tigers overall body of work, which includes a win over Pittsburg and a lone loss to Miramonte prior to facing Marin Catholic, and then couple that with them playing as well against Marin Catholic as anyone other than St. Ignatius, there’s only a slight drop in this group.
20. (20) Los Gatos 9-3
The No. 2 seeded Wildcats barely broke a sweat in a CCS Division II 35-6 semifinal win over Atherton Menlo-Atherton. First-year head coach Mark Krail now has his team in the title game against St. Francis. This team’s three losses are to Mitty, Menlo-Atherton and Wilcox. They do own a win over Milpitas and they avenged the loss to Menlo-Atherton.
21. (21) Milpitas 10-2
The Trojans have a win over Wilcox but a loss over Los Gatos, with the other loss to Valley Christian. The CCS Division I No. 2 seed was a 45-0 winner over San Jose Piedmont Hills, and now meets Hollister San Benito for the championship. Fourth-seed San Benito was a 37-7 winner over top seed Alvarez of Salinas.
22. (22) Freedom (Oakley) 6-6**
Season complete and for now the Falcons stay put.
23. (23) Terra Nova (Pacifica) 10-1**
Season complete but the Tigers get to move up and take the place of Carmel.
24. (24) Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 11-1
The Gators are into the CCS Division IV title game but it’s not against the Carmel team they thought they would be facing. After a 34-7 semifinal win over Monterey, SHP plays No. 7 seed Pacific Grove. The Breakers avenged a close league defeat to Carmel by blowing up the scoreboard in a 77-53 victory. Their lone defeat is 29-15 to Terra Nova. The winner between SHP and Pacific Grove also could be in the NorCal D3 bowl game if Hilmar were to lose to Central Catholic of Modesto (very possible) in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D4 final.
25. (NR) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 4-8
The lone newcomer has one stinker loss to Menlo-Atherton, 21-16, on the road. The other non-league losses are to Marin Catholic by 11 points and Terra Nova by 17 points, both higher ranked. The other five losses are to WCAL teams ranked ahead of them by 46 points combined, including a 31-24 loss at Serra. The winner of the CCS D3 semifinal was going to most likely get this spot, and St. Ignatius advanced to the finals by beating previously unbeaten and top-seeded Burlingame, 41-21, on the road. Aptos is next for a third-straight title, and second with a so-so record.
Dropped Out: Previous No. 23 Carmel.
Teams On The Bubble
Acalanes (Lafayette) 8-4**, Alvarez (Salinas) 11-1** Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 5-6**, Aptos 10-2, Burlingame 11-1**, Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 8-4**, Carmel 11-1**, Concord 7-3* **, Encinal (Alameda) 8-3**, Foothill (Pleasanton) 8-3** Granada (Livermore) 6-6**, Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 7-5**, Liberty (Brentwood) 5-4**, McClymonds (Oakland) 9-2, Menlo (Atherton) 6-4**, Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) 8-4**, Montgomery (Santa Rosa) 10-3**, Northgate (Walnut Creek) 9-3**, Pacific Grove 11-1, Palma (Salinas) 7-4**, Palo Alto 6-6**, Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 6-5**, San Leandro 6-5**, San Marin (Novato) 9-3**, Windsor 6-6**
Note: McClymonds has won Silver Bowl title in Oakland Athletic League. The team is eligible to be chosen for D4 North regional bowl game and probably will be chosen.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend