CCS Open Division swallows up No. 2 Milpitas and No. 3 Serra while Sacred Heart Prep is into the semifinals at 11-0. NCS top seeds De La Salle, Clayton Valley and Campolindo, meanwhile, are rolling and positioning for runs toward CIF state titles.
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So much for the seedings in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division this season. In fact, it’s really not much different than last season other than top-seeded Atherton Sacred Heart Prep not having to play in the first round against a West Catholic Athletic League opponent like last year’s No. 1 seed, Terra Nova of Pacifica, when it lost to San Jose Valley Christian in the first round.
The biggest shocker was a 28-0 whitewashing of No. 4 seed and previous state No. 20 ranked Serra by No. 5 Los Gatos. The victory by the Wildcats was not totally unexpected after the way they’ve played this season, what’s shocking was the final score. Quarterback Dru Brown and running back Joey Wood did the scoring but it was the defense of the Cats that sealed the deal by allowing just 151 yards of offense and forcing four Serra turnovers.
The other game that was somewhat mystifying was the 9-6 overtime victory by No. 7 seed Bellarmine over No. 2 seed and previous state No. 15 ranked Milpitas. Defense was the name of the game as the score was tied 3-3 after four quarters and the only touchdown in the game came in overtime.
After Milpitas registered its second field goal of the game in its overtime possession, the Bells snatched the upset victory on a 10-yard pass from Troy Martig to Curt Calomeni on the visitors’ first play of the extra period.
Since losing to Milpitas 31-17 in the regular season and then 24-10 to Serra the next week to open WCAL play, Valley Christian has now won seven straight including a 14-7 victory by the No. 6 seeded Warriors over No. 3 seed Palma last week in Salinas.
Marin Catholic, Rancho Cotate move into NCS Division III semifinals
The Cal-Hi Sports caravan stayed home Friday night to work the buttons and knobs and cover more than two dozen games while warm and cozy. However, on Saturday we got some unexpected sun while watching No. 3 seed Marin Catholic (Kentfield) blitz Martinez Alhambra, 48-9.
Junior dual-threat quarterback Darius Peterson scored the first two times he carried the ball on runs of 20 and 35 yards. He also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver and backup quarterback Will Buckstaff that helped stake the hosts to a 35-0 halftime lead. Despite only playing two quarters, Peterson passed for 134 yards and rushed for 79 more to go with the three scores.
Buckstaff (123 yards passing, two TDs, one TD rushing) scored three different ways. Besides the TD pass reception, he also scored on a 19-yard second quarter run. Then after replacing Peterson the junior tossed two TD passes.
Perhaps the most impressive performance came on defense from senior Ryan Kelley with 20 tackles, three sacks, three other tackles for loss and a forced fumble on one of the sacks that he recovered.
In another NCS D3 quarterfinal a Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) team that has dropped from D2 to D3 has found the pickings in the lower enrollment bracket very much to its liking so far in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
For the second straight week, seventh-seed Rancho Cotate went on the road. After taking out Mission Valley League champ and unbeaten Fremont Kennedy in the opening round, the Cougars went to No. 2 seed Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) as a decided underdog and took home a 44-34 upset victory.
(This commentary by Cal-Hi Sports editor Mark Tennis)
Not only is the system used for CCS seedings somewhat goofy, the section also now has consolation games in the Open Division. It is believed to be the first time in state history that a section has conducted a consolation round for its football playoffs.
There could be a valid reason to hold CCS Open Division consolation games for any team that might be in line for a CIF regional bowl game under a new plan that is expected to pass the CIF Federated Council in January. This is because a team (like Sacred Heart Prep for D3) will have a hard time being competitive in a bowl game if it hasn’t played in three weeks. The new format, however, is not going to happen until next year even if the new plan does pass.
And if it’s a school that wouldn’t be getting one of those bowl bids (such as Milpitas, Oak Grove or Serra for this year), the consolation games basically mean nothing. Some pride and rankings positioning will be on the line, but it’ll be interesting to see if coaches use it to give younger players some experience or give graduating seniors the opportunity for playing time.
If people in the CCS hate the Open Division consolation games, they can show their displeasure by just not going to these games. Trust us, if no one shows up or pays for tickets to these games, the section will get the message.
Here are the 12th rankings of the 2014 season (after games of Saturday, Nov. 22; previous ranking in parentheses):
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 11-0
The week off with a bye did little to slow the top-seeded Spartans as the juggernaut continued to roll towards Carson with a 65-16 win over No. 9 seed San Ramon Valley of Danville. The next victim of the march of Sparta is a familiar foe and a familiar head coach, California and De La Salle alum Eric Billeci. The one thing Billeci shares with all the other disciples of guru Bob Ladouceur is despite all having top-notch programs, none of them have ever beaten their alma mater and that won’t change this week.
2. (4) Clayton Valley (Concord) 12-0
After a 69-19 smashing of Santa Rosa Montgomery that was fully anticipated, the Ugly Eagles stay just in front of Valley Christian and Foothill for now. By next week, one of those two could be moved higher but it’s not like Clayton Valley is a weaker team. It’s just a team that hasn’t played a good schedule, although Tracy’s win over Jesuit in the Sac-Joaquin Section helps and we know that eventually the team will run into strong foes in the NCS D2 final, NorCal D2 bowl game and CIF D2 state bowl game.
3. (5) Valley Christian (San Jose) 9-2
The Warriors won’t get a chance to avenge the loss to Serra that made them WCAL co-champs nor will they get a chance to even the score with Milpitas but head coach Mike Machado and his boys are still alive in the CCS Open Division race after a 14-7 hard fought win over Palma in a game that seedings-wise is an upset but not in these rankings. Valley Christian now faces a Bellarmine team it bested 42-17 in league play. After playing through injuries and the two losses to state-ranked teams, the team that many analysts felt was the top team in the WCAL and CCS coming into the season is now in a position to take that spot on the field.
The Falcons moved up last week despite a bye, and as was stated after the loss to De La Salle late last month, they could keep moving up as long as they are alive in the NCS D1 playoffs. As a result of the No. 2 seed’s 54-8 pounding of a No. 10 Antioch team coming off an upset of San Leandro, the boys get to move up again going into a semifinal matchup with Pittsburg.
5. (7) Los Gatos 8-2
The CCS Open No. 5 seed moves into the top five after the 28-0 whitewashing of Serra. Now comes what may be one of the most interesting matchups in this season’s playoffs with top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep. Both teams that could have been CIF NorCal Division II and Division III bowl game contenders will meet to fight for a spot in the CCS Open Division.
6. (9) Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 11-0
After rising 12 spots last week, the Gators get another bump after the CCS Open Division top seed was a 37-13 winner over No. 8 San Jose Oak Grove in a game they weren’t expected to be challenged. Running back and linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven had his best game since returning from injury six games ago. On offense, the Washington-bound senior rushed for an even 200 yards with two touchdowns on 21 carries, caught two passes for 45 yards, and he had 15 tackles (two for loss) and two batted passes on defense. Now SHP faces a Los Gatos team for the first time in school history at San Jose Independence on Saturday night.
7. (8) Campolindo (Moraga) 12-0
Northern California’s No. 1 contender for the Division III regional bowl game crushed Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman 56-14 in the NCS D3 quarterfinals. The Cougars got hopped by Sacred Heart Prep this week because that team is in the CCS Open Division semis and also is unbeaten, but they move up two spots in front of Serra and Milpitas, which are out of CCS Open Division contention.
8. (3) Serra (San Mateo) 7-4
Season now complete with Open consolation game pending. The Padres’ tank was empty against Los Gatos but they still have wins over Valley Christian early in the season and against Bellarmine just two weeks ago. The question was should they drop behind Campolindo and Sacred Heart Prep? At least for now, since those two teams are still going, the answer is an easy yes.
9. (10) Bellarmine (San Jose) 9-2
After losing four spots last week after the loss to Serra, this is where the CCS Open No. 7 seed Bells get bumped up to after the 9-6 win over Milpitas. Next up is a Valley Christian team that handled them easily in the regular season, 42-17, on the road in San Jose. This game, like the other CCS Open semifinal, will be at neutral San Jose Independence on Friday night. Should the Bells win, the two losses will be forgiven in next weeks rankings with a strong bump.
10. (2) Milpitas 10-1
Season now complete with Open consolation game pending. It’s a big drop but at this stage of the season, but the Trojans have to be behind Bellarmine and behind other teams that are still going for section championships. It is possible due to head-to-head wins that Milpitas could finish in front of either Valley Christian and/or Los Gatos if one or both of those teams doesn’t win the CCS Open crown.
11. (11) St. Francis (Mountain View) 7-4
The CCS Division II top-seeded Lancers opened the playoffs by barely breaking a sweat in a 55-6 shellacking of San Jose Mt. Pleasant. Next up is home date with San Jose Leland, a 31-21 winner over Campbell Westmont.
12. (12) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 6-4
The pecking order continues as Monarchs continue to fall in behind the Saint Francis team that edged them 15-14 during WCAL play. They also are behind the Lancers as the No. 2 seed in the CCS D2 bracket and won their opener 49-15 over No. 7 San Jose Willow Glen. Next up is Santa Clara Wilcox. The Chargers were a 28-13 winner over Christopher of Gilroy.
13. (13) Pittsburg 8-2
After a first round bye, the NCS D1 No. 3 seed took care of No. 6 seed Freedom 27-7. Pitt now meets Foothill for the right to move into the NCS D1 finals and an almost probable date with De La Salle. If the Pirates win this week, we also would at that point finally move them in front of Mitty. We’ve been ranking them behind Mitty due to that head-to-head loss.
14. (14) California (San Ramon) 9-3
The Grizzlies ended the dream season for Liberty but it was anything but easy in a 35-24 final. Now, it’s De La Salle and another date with destiny.
15. (18) Concord 10-1*
*Win by forfeit not included. It’s time to start positioning the Minutemen for their anticipated rematch with Clayton Valley in the NCS D2 final. The 48-23 win over Granada of Livermore gets them upset-minded No. 11 seed Pinole Valley of Pinole in the semifinals.
16. (20) Aptos 9-1
The CCS Division III second-seeded Mariners didn’t look past 10-0 San Jose Branham but they barely broke a sweat in a 50-3 victory. Coach Randy Blankenship’s team has lost only to Granite Bay (projected now to reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I final) and will have 10-1 Burlingame and possibly No. 22 St. Ignatius to beat in order to win a second straight CCS D3 crown.
17. (15) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 7-5
Season now complete. With some teams above and those directly below them losing, the second pasting the Wolves took from De La Salle doesn’t drop them far in this group.
18. (16) Palma (Salinas) 9-2
Season now complete with Open consolation game pending. The Chieftains may have been the No. 3 seed based on the CCS points system, but in our system they were the underdog against Valley Christian and despite playing fairly well at home they still fell 14-7 after trailing 14-0 most of the game. Should be a very strong team next season.
19. (19) McClymonds (Oakland) 12-0*
*Still not counting the four forfeit losses due to use of ineligible player until all appeals are announced. Lavance Warren rushed for 120 yards and two TDs, including a 68-yarder, all in the first half of a 40-0 win over Oakland Tech. Next up is crosstown Fremont in the Oakland Section Silver Bowl final, but whether or not Mack is able to move on for a possible NorCal D4 bowl game is still the big question at this point.
20. (17) Liberty (Brentwood) 9-3
Season now complete. We would have liked to have given the Lions a bigger boost last week but that couldn’t happen. They stay in the top 20 after they gave California all it could handle in the NCS Division I quarterfinals.
21. (21) Salesian (Richmond) 9-2*
*Possible forfeit win not included. The NCS Division V defending champion and top seed was an easy 48-6 winner over Petaluma Saint Vincent de Paul.
22. (22) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 6-5
The Wildcats beat Monterey 28-21 in the CCS Division III playoffs and will face top-seed Pioneer next. Going by comparative scores involving Valley Christian, SI is actually the favorite despite CCS seedings.
23. (23) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 10-1
Coach Keith Minor’s team, which has lost only to Salesian, smacked around Moreau Catholic of Hayward 61-21 in the NCS D4 quarterfinals. The Panthers are playing San Marin of Novato in the semifinals.
24. (24) Freedom (Oakley) 7-5
Season now complete. Four of the five teams the Falcons lost to, including Pittsburg twice, are still in the playoffs in either the NCS or Sac-Joaquin Section and they have a win over a Tracy team that’s also still alive. Freedom’s season ended with a 27-7 loss to Pitt in the NCS D1 playoffs.
25. (NR) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 9-3
The top seed left in the NCS D3 playoffs after Campolindo opened the season with a loss to Elk Grove Cosumnes Oaks and then St. Ignatius in a game it could have won. One of the losses was to Napa Justin-Siena to end the long Marin County Athletic League winning streak but there were 10 seniors out for what could have been a wrist slap at some places but drew a one-month suspension at Marin Catholic. The team played through the adversity and junior dual-threat quarterback Darius Peterson is not the same player as in the first two weeks of the season. Up next is Rancho Cotate in the semis.
Dropped Out: Previous No. 25 Antioch.
Teams On The Bubble
(In alphabetical order)
Acalanes (Lafayette) 8-4*
Alhambra (Martinez) 8-4*
Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 6-5*
Analy (Sebastopol) 11-1**
Aragon (San Mateo) 9-2*
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 8-4*
Casa Grande (Petaluma) 6-6
El Cerrito 5-6*
Fremont (Sunnyvale) 9-1*
James Logan (Union City) 8-3*
Justin-Siena (Napa) 9-3
Kennedy (Fremont) 10-1*
Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 9-3*
Maria Carrillo (Santa Rosa) 7-5*
Monte Vista (Danville) 4-7*
Pacific Grove 10-1
Pinole Valley (Pinole) 6-6
Pioneer (San Jose) 9-2
Oak Grove (San Jose) 7-4*
Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 9-3
Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 3-7*
San Benito (Hollister) 7-4
San Leandro 6-5*
San Marin (Novato) 9-3
Terra Nova (Pacifica) 5-6
Wilcox (Santa Clara) 7-4
**Possible forfeit win not included.
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