The seedings as usual don’t make a ton of sense if you look at historical precedence and strength of schedule, but you’ve got to play it out and it’s a huge opportunity for Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton. One top seeded team also will get a huge test in its very first game.
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The CIF Central Coast Section football playoffs are conducted in four divisions with open division. Five of the teams in the open division are predetermined league champions. The divisions are then determined by enrollment and leagues are split.
Open Division: Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton not only is moving up from Division IV from last year (and a NorCal D3 bowl game win) but the Gators are seeded first. It’s hard to see given that the only West Catholic Athletic League opponent during the season was 1-9 Riordan and they won by just 14-7. SHP also may have never beaten a WCAL playoff team in its history. Still, that’s the point system that the CCS uses and SHP will glady accept it. The Gators also get to play the No. 8 seed – 7-3 Oak Grove of San Jose – in their first game before possibly running into defending champion Serra of San Mateo in the semis. Unbeaten Milpitas (with wins over WCAL co-champ Valley Christian and Los Gatos) is seeded second and opens with Bellarmine. Other than Los Gatos vs. Serra, the best first-round game is Valley Christian traveling to No. 3 seed Palma. Los Gatos getting officially into the open division also will drop the Wildcats from this week’s Division II North bowl game rankings since the eventual CCS Open Division champ will become eligible for the NorCal D1 bowl game.
Division I: This bracket ended up dominated by teams from the Monterey Bay area with Salinas (6-4), Alvarez of Salinas (6-4) and San Benito (6-4) getting the top three slots. Fremont of Sunnyvale (9-1) was the most intriguing team to us until a bad loss 58-24 this week to Homestead of Cupertino. The winner of this bracket would become eligible for the NorCal D2 bowl game, but will have no chance given the champion is probably going to have four losses. And when you think that next year one of these teams is going to get a bowl game and the CIF continues to insist that the new “everybody gets a game” format is not going to be watered down, that’s when you laugh.
Division II: WCAL squads St. Francis of Mountain View (6-4) and Archbishop Mitty of San Jose (6-4) are the top seeds and should meet in the final. St. Francis won 15-14 when the two met earlier this season. The winner of the bracket also will be eligible for the NorCal D2 bowl game and although Mitty has a win over Serra and also has a win over Pittsburg it’s hard to see the section commissioners voting for a team with four losses no matter its strength of schedule.
Division III: Aptos (9-1), with just one loss to Sac-Joaquin Section powerhouse Granite Bay, not only didn’t get the top seed but got paired against Branham of San Jose (10-0) in its first game. The top seed, Pioneer of San Jose (8-2), has a 55-0 loss to Valley Christian and just lost 14-6 to Oak Grove. The Mustangs also will likely have to get through St. Ignatius of San Francisco (a team good enough on one day to beat 10-1 St. Mary’s of Stockton) in the semifinals to even worry about Aptos. If Aptos beats Branham, gets to the final and beats either Pioneer or St. Ignatius, that could give the Mariners (who would be up to 12-1) a strong resume to land a spot probably opposite Campolindo in the NorCal D3 bowl game.
Division IV: Too bad The King’s Academy of Sunnyvale at 9-1 doesn’t have an enrollment below 500 because then it would be getting a lot of attention as a team to watch for the NorCal D4 bowl game. The team is 9-1 and took the top seed in this bracket over 9-1 Pacific Grove. Even as a top seed, The King’s Academy is going to face a huge challenge in its first game against Terra Nova of Pacifica. The Tigers may only be 4-6, but they beat D1 top seed Salinas for one of their wins and their losses have all come to higher ranked opponents. The only loss for The King’s Academy has been to Sacred Heart Prep.