We give CCS Open Division top seed Sacred Heart Prep a major bump but not above Milpitas, Serra, Valley Christian or Los Gatos in the CCS pecking order. It might even be more bizarre that Aptos isn’t seeded No. 1 in Division III but at least the Mariners are No. 2. Antioch also is on the rise and looms as a threat to Foothill of Pleasanton.
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Now that league play has concluded in the CIF Central Coast Section (as well as the Oakland and San Francisco Sections) the entire Bay Area will now be fully into the playoffs with the ultimate goal being a CIF Division I, II, III or IV NorCal bowl berth, or in the case of De La Salle an almost assured direct ticket to Carson for the CIF Open Division Bowl Game.
For this week’s road trip, the caravan ventured to San Mateo for the West Catholic Athletic League matchup between host Serra and Bellarmine of San Jose.
Yes, it’s true that based on the flawed CCS playoff point system that Serra would not even have been in the CCS Open Division with a loss to the Bells.
This is because CCS point system gives no credit to Serra for the game against De La Salle in which they played Sparta as well as anyone has this season. The reason is that De La Salle isn’t in a league so no brownie points to the Padres for playing a league winner. Serra also got no credit for the game against Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks since that team was 6-4 and 2-4 in the Mission League and that doesn’t rate in the CCS system.
In the same system, Sacred Heart Prep does get points for beating a league champion that Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks would without question defeat 100-0 if it wanted to.It’s a goofy system and it’s why Sacred Heart Prep is sitting with the No. 1 seed as the CCS Open Division starts. Still, everyone around the CCS knows it’s going to be goofy and a top team like Serra still is going to have to play and beat these teams at some point in the process regardless.
Despite a solid 28-14 victory over Bellarmine, the way the game started on Saturday afternoon it looked like Serra was headed for the CCS Division II playoffs.
A 1-yard scoring plunge by Antonio Garcia on the Bells’ second series was followed by a 71-yard punt return TD by Kyle Macauley that gave Bellarmine a 14-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Bells’ faithful, that late first quarter score would be the last time they would register any points.
From there, it was all Serra quarterback Hunter Bishop and a stingy defense that had five sacks and allowed 87 yards of total offense, with only 47 yards of rushing coming on 32 carries.
After the Bellarmine punt return for a score, Bishop orchestrated an 80-yard drive in five plays that culminated when the 6-foot-3, 180-pound junior turned on the after-burners for a 39-yard TD run that made it 14-7.
A blocked punt led to another Serra score, then defensive end Ian Brown picked up a fumble at the Bells’ 1-yard line and dove in to give Serra a 21-14 lead and three touchdowns in a span of 2:28.
“Our defense has been clutch all year and they did it again today. They showed we have the best defense in the WCAL,” said Bishop, who was 14-of-25 for 170 yards and the TD passing and running, but injured his knee on an a third quarter interception and had to be replaced by sophomore Sitaleki Nunn.
Immediately after the game, head coach Patrick Walsh was “very concerned” about the status of Bishop but as of Sunday his strained knee was not as bad as feared.
“Saw doctor last night. No clear ligament damage. Have to wear a brace for a week. I’ll be ready to go,” Bishop wrote in a direct Twitter message.
Bishop and the offense will need to fire out this week in the Open Division first round match-up with visiting No. 5 seed Los Gatos, but it’s the defense that really sets the tone for the Padres.
“It’s been the same all year long. The offense has been up and down but the defense has been consistent, and that’s what makes us go,” Walsh said.
Here are the 11th rankings of the 2014 season (after games of Saturday, Nov. 15; previous ranking in parentheses):
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 10-0
With only 13 teams in the 16-team NCS Division I bracket, the top-seeded Spartans received a bye and now meet the San Ramon Valley team at home they defeated 70-14 on the road in early October.
2. (2) Milpitas 10-0
The Trojans closed out a 6-0 De Anza League campaign with a 56-0 win at Santa Clara. Other than a 27-21 victory over Los Gatos, Milpitas outscored its other five league opponents 242-10. As expected, Milpitas drew the No. 2 seed in the CCS Open Division and gets a No. 6 seed Valley Christian team it defeated 31-17 in the third game of the season. The seedings may not have Milpitas first in the section but everyone else in the Bay Area media sure does.
3. (3) Serra (San Mateo) 7-3
The CCS may not give any credit in its points system about the Padres facing off with De La Salle or previously state-ranked Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, but unlike their system ours isn’t answerable to satisfying a constituency that props up its leagues. Serra’s first-round Open Division game against No. 7 Los Gatos should be difficult.
4. (4) Clayton Valley (Concord) 11-0
Unlike the NCS D1 bracket, Division II has 16 teams and that means no byes. Reality is the D2 bracket is pretty weak, though, and an inter-squad scrimmage may have borne more sweat than the 61-7 shellacking the Ugly Eagles laid on visiting Newark Memorial of Newark. Next up is Santa Rosa Montgomery. The Vikings were a 42-34 winner over Hayward Mt. Eden.
5. (5) Valley Christian (San Jose) 8-2
The Warriors whitewashed Sacred Heart Cathedral 28-0 and now meet No. 3 seed Palma. In our rankings, it also would have been a VC matchup vs. Palma in the first round but the seeds would have been flipped with VC at No. 3 and Palma at No. 6. But with Palma at No. 3, that’s why the game will be in Salinas.
6. (7) Foothill (Pleasanton) 8-2
As was stated last week when the Falcons had to drop after the meaningless loss to crosstown arch-rival Amador Valley, they could gain back spots with teams above them losing, and so they get the spot of previous No. 6 Bellarmine despite the NCS Division I No. 2 seed being idle with a bye. Next up is a dangerous No. 10 seed Antioch team that was a 50-26 winner over No. 7 San Leandro.
7. (8) Los Gatos 8-2
The CCS Open No. 5 seed had just the kind of win a team really needs heading into the playoffs after a 28-13 win on the road at a solid Wilcox of Santa Clara. Next up is Serra.
8. (9) Campolindo (Moraga) 11-0
We needed to move up Sacred Heart Prep but we’re not going to move the Gators higher than the Cougars. Campo’s league is comparable to SHP but the win over a Napa team that is into the second round of the CIFSJS D1 playoffs and also has a win over Vacaville is the difference. It’s too bad the two can’t meet for the D3 NorCal Bowl title but that’s a moot point now.
9. (21) Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 10-0
There were those that questioned why the Gators were so low in the rankings, and now there will be those that question how they can jump 12 spots? The answer is that it isn’t based on a 35-14 win this past week over Atherton Menlo, or their unbeaten record against a weak schedule compared to other top 10 teams, but because they are indeed the CCS Open No. 1 seed and will get a chance make some noise in the playoffs. A win over Oak Grove brings a matchup with either Serra or Los Gatos.
10. (6) Bellarmine (San Jose) 8-2
This is where the CCS Open No. 7 seed Bells fall after the loss to Serra. Next up is top-seeded Milpitas and with the way the Bells are banged up at quarterback and a few other spots it could be a long night for head coach Mike Janda and his boys.
11. (10) St. Francis (Mountain View) 6-4
Despite a 21-13 win over St. Ignatius, the Lancers dropped to the CCS Division II playoffs where they were awarded the top seed and a date at home with eighth-seeded San Jose Mt. Pleasant.
12. (11) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 6-4
The Monarchs continue to fall in behind the St. Francis team that edged them 15-14. They also are behind the Lancers as the No. 2 seed in the CCS D2 bracket and open with No. 7 San Jose Willow Glen.
13. (12) Pittsburg 8-2
After a first round bye, the NCS D1 No. 3 seed drops a spot to make room for Sacred Heart Prep and still is behind Mitty due to a head-to-head loss. Pitt now faces a No. 6 seed Freedom team it handled 24-13 at home during Bay Valley League action.
14. (13) California (San Ramon) 8-3
The NCS D1 No. 4 seed Grizzlies mauled Brentwood Heritage 45-13 and now meet Liberty of Brentwood on Saturday night.
15. (14) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 7-4
The Wolves were a 34-16 winner on the road at James Logan. The fight last Friday night was for the right to face you know who (De La Salle) and you know where (Concord).
16. (16) Palma (Salinas) 9-1
The Chieftains are the No. 3 seed in the CCS Open Division but still have that stinker loss to Hollister San Benito. A win in their CCS playoff opener over Valley Christian will move them back up again and into the top 10.
17. (18) Liberty (Brentwood) 9-2
We would have liked to have given the Lions a bigger boost, but after they roared their way to a 33-14 victory over Amador Valley and the first playoff win in school history, head coach Jeff Walters and his boys will have to settle for a one-spot bump heading into a showdown with California.
18. (19) Concord 9-1*
The Minutemen moved closer to a rematch with Clayton Valley after the NCS D2 second seed was a 60-26 winner over Hayward. Next up is a No. 10 seed Livermore Granada team that was a 55-20 winner over No. 7 Walnut Creek Northgate.
19. (20) McClymonds (Oakland) 11-0*
Until all the appeals (CIF or legal) are exhausted regarding quarterback Kevin Davidson, we are going to continue to go with Mack’s record on the field that includes a 44-0 whitewash of Oakland Tech last week that gave the Warriors the OAL regular seasontitle. Mack opens CIF Oakland Section playoff action against the same Oakland Tech team this week.
20. (23) Aptos 9-1
Similar to Serra’s situation with De La Salle, the Mariners didn’t get any CCS playoff points for playing a team like Granite Bay (which was their only loss). They are also the defending CCS Division III champions. There are other reasons why Aptos and not Pioneer of San Jose (8-2) should have been the No. 1 seed in the bracket but both teams also need to be wary in that bracket of 5-5 St. Ignatius. Aptos opens with 10-0 San Jose Branham on Saturday.
21. (22) Salesian (Richmond) 7-2*
The NCS Division V defending champion and top seed drew a first round bye and now face a No. 9 Petaluma St. Vincent team that pulled out a 27-21 victory over Cloverdale.
22. (17) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 5-5
The best 5-5 team in the Bay Area didn’t give anyone an easy game in the WCAL this season and now moves on as the No. 4 seed in the CCS D3 playoffs with an opener against No. 5 Monterey.
23. (24) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 9-1
The NCS Division IV defending champion and top seed drew a first round bye and opens at home this Saturday afternoon against a No. 9 Moreau Catholic (Hayward) team that was a 26-7 winner over Fort Bragg.
24. (25) Freedom (Oakley) 7-4
The Falcons are still alive in the NCS D1 playoffs after an exciting 33-28 victory over Danville Monte Vista. Next up is Pittsburg.
25. (NR) Antioch 7-4
Thought was given to leaving James Logan in there after a 34-16 loss to San Ramon Valley, but the Panthers are still going in the NCS D1 playoffs after their win over San Leandro and will be a challenge for No. 6 Foothill of Pleasanton in the next round. Antioch’s losses also all to teams ranked higher – Pittsburg, Liberty, Freedom and Sac-Joaquin D2 playoff team Wood of Vacaville.
Dropped Out: Previous No. 15 James Logan (Union City).
On the Bubble
(In alphabetical order)
Acalanes (Lafayette) 8-3
Alhambra (Martinez) 8-3
Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 6-5**
Analy (Sebastopol) 10-1*
Aragon (San Mateo) 9-1
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 8-3
El Cerrito 5-6**
Fremont (Sunnyvale) 9-1
James Logan (Union City) 8-3**
Justin-Siena (Napa) 8-3
Kennedy (Fremont) 10-1**
Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 9-2
Maria Carrillo (Santa Rosa) 7-4
Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 8-3
Monte Vista (Danville) 4-7**
Pacific Grove 9-1
Pioneer (San Jose) 8-2
Oak Grove (San Jose) 7-3
Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 8-3
Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 3-7**
San Benito (Hollister) 6-4
San Leandro 6-5**
San Marin (Novato) 8-3
Terra Nova (Pacifica) 4-6
Wilcox (Santa Clara) 6-4
(*Not including forfeits)
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend