Since every CIF section football champion in the state is going to get to play in a regional bowl game, we’re beginning our coverage of this year’s bowl games by choosing a winner of each section title in the state. Go inside for our predicted champions for the San Diego Section, Southern Section (all 13 divisions) and the L.A. City Section as well as D2, D4 and D6 from the Central Section.
For our predictions of which CIF bowl games we think these predicted winners would be playing in, CLICK HERE.
For every section champion predicted in Northern California plus D1, D3 and D5 from the Central Section, CLICK HERE.
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Note: In a few cases, the predictions don’t match the already released preseason State Top 50 rankings. They are two different ways of looking at it: where a team should start this season in the rankings vs. how we think some of these teams will end up.
Division II: Ridgeview (Bakersfield)
All-state RB Sheldon Croney may be gone, but QB Lawrence White and a number of other playmakers are back. Until another team in this group proves it’s better, the Wolfpack remain the one to choose.
Division IV: Chavez (Delano)
Defending champ Liberty of Madera Ranchos begins the season with the state’s longest win streak at 19 games, but has been hit hard by graduations. Chavez is the one team among a few others we checked out that does show a lot of promise based on returnees.
Division VI: Avenal
A whopping 16 starters are back from an 8-4 squad that lost to Kennedy of Delano in the final.
*For this year’s new bowl game alignment, the Central Section champions for Division I, Division III and Division V will be placed against NorCal opponents while the Central Section champions for Division II, Division IV and Division VI will be in the South.
Open Division: Helix (La Mesa)
Solid consensus pick by many to win it all this season. Ranked No. 12 overall in the state.
Division I: San Marcos
Pretty talented club that we don’t think is going to make it into the Open Division, but like St. Augustine last year may have enough to win a section crown.
Division II: Christian (El Cajon)
Fifteen returning starters are back for squad that actually might even be strong enough (seventh or eighth best overall in the section) for the Open Division, but only Division I teams in San Diego can be taken up into that bracket.
Division III: Valley Center
The Jaguars were only 6-5 last year, but we like them for this spot because they were D2 and both El Cajon Christian and Rancho Bernardo are going up from D2 to D3.
Division IV: Castle Park (Chula Vista)
This is a really hard one, but the Trojans were 8-4 in 2014 and the teams moving down from D3 aren’t exactly intimidating. Nine starters return on defense, including two-way standout Luqman Barcoo.
Division V: La Jolla Country Day
With junior Arizona-commit Braxton Burmeister and WR/DB Brennan Goring both back among many returning starters, this is a good spot for the Torreys to make noise on section/state level.
Pac-Five Division: St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
Yes, we know defending champ Centennial is loaded as well and Bosco will be breaking in a new QB, but that sure was a very young, very talented team the Braves had last season. Plus, maybe we just want to see another Bosco-DLS state bowl game anyway.
West Valley: Mission Viejo
We also really like Vista Murrieta and Rancho Cucamonga in this group, but just too tough to go against Diablos when they have an effective, experienced QB.
Defending D2 state champs have enough in the tank to defend section and state titles. They project to D2 for SoCal and state games once again as well, but could play a Bakersfield team in the state game in Sacramento instead of a Bakersfield team in the SoCal matchup.
This team is just so loaded with top transfers and talent (especially those juniors) that a run to this section title seems like a solid pick. Can’t discount defending champ Palos Verdes too much, though.
Northern: Arroyo Grande
The Eagles also seem like the team to beat among a group of teams from Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo counties that does tend to beat each other over the years. Defending champ Paso Robles might have lost just a bit too much.
Southwest: Buena Park
We like this team’s combination of having a strong returning QB with top upcoming talent, although San Clemente is right there as well. Tritons don’t have Sam Darnold (USC) anymore at QB, but lots of returnees elsewhere and several D1 recruits.
Central: Colony (Ontario)
Defending champs for this division should be just as good or better in 2015. There are 11 returning starters, including one of the state’s top junior DBs in Kahalil Dorsey.
Southeast: Crescenta Valley (La Crescenta)
The Falcons lost a lot from last season, but they were pretty dominant and nobody else we checked out had enough for us to go in another direction.
Mid-Valley: Paraclete (Lancaster)
With USC-bound RB Melquise Stovall and a wealth of returning starters, the Spirits are the team to beat in this division, which was won last season by Pomona. The Red Devils still have QB/RB Darreon Lockett, but may have lost too much to beat Paraclete again.
Southern: Garden Grove
The Argonauts were a dominant champion in this group last season, which means that even though there isn’t a wealth of returning starters that there also isn’t another team that does seemingly have enough to deserve to be picked higher in the preseason.
Eastern: Norte Vista (Riverside)
Defending champion Palm Springs still has QB William Olvera, but the Braves welcome back all-state candidate RB Fred Holly among 14 returning starters. A 10-0 JV also is on the way up.
East Valley: Grace Brethren (Simi Valley)
This team lost in a close one last year to 15-1 St. Margaret’s of SJ Capistrano in the final, 34-21, and is loaded for 2015. The L.A. Daily News even put the Lancers at No. 20 overall in its preseason poll. A whopping nine starters are back on both sides of the ball, led by RB Zikel Reddick.
Northwest: Arrowhead Christian (Redlands)
Defending champ Nipomo lost a lot and so did the Eagles, but there are a few more returning players we like from their roster. We’ll go with them for now, but looks like wide open race.
L.A. CITY SECTION
Division I: Narbonne (Harbor City)
The Gauchos might not be quite the powerhouse they were in 2011, but they’re probably a lot better than last season and are heavy favorites in this division. Ranked No. 10 overall in the state.
Division II: Hawkins (Los Angeles)
With 2014 finalists Hamilton and Sylmar both now up in D1, it may come down to two teams from D3 last year. L.A. High was the D3 champ, but there’s just so much buzz about all of the upcoming players at Hawkins that we couldn’t resist.
Division III: Monroe (North Hills)
With L.A. now up in D2 and with nobody else listed in D3 that has too much firepower, we’ll list last year’s D3 runner-up even though prolific QB Luis Dorame has graduated.