Rematches definitely were avoided and an effort to have games hosted throughout the state by each section were among the takeaways from the first announcement of team placements in the CIF’s new 13-division state bowl game series. No surprise at the top, of course, as De La Salle of Concord and Corona Centennial will meet for the fifth time in two weeks in the Open Division.
To see Part 3 of our video series done a few days ago that explains further the new CIF bowl system and how both the north and south games can be interconnected, CLICK HERE.
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Sure, there were bound to be a few football teams and schools disappointed about having to take a long road trip next week for a CIF regional bowl game, but in the eyes of the 10 section commissioners and other high-ranking CIF officials that’s way better than what had been happening on past selection Sundays and that was having to tell many more teams that they were not selected for a game and that their seasons were over.
“In most sports, we do take runner-up teams into the regionals and even some quarterfinalists,” said CIF Associate Executive Director Ron Nocetti, who has taken the lead on the selection process and spoke during a Sunday phone press conference from Irvine after this year’s lineup of games was announced. “We just no longer wanted to tell schools that their teams didn’t get picked.”
“We got a lot of positive input from everyone on the committee,” said Jim Monico, the CIF Football Advisory Chair. “They all believe that these games will give more kids throughout the state to be involved in the state championship process.”
The 10 section commissioners met at the Irvine Marriot beginning at 11 a.m., which was a quick turnaround for some since some of the various sections had football title games just the previous night.
As with previous years, each member of the committee had access to team rankings, including those of Cal-Hi Sports, and were sent a proposed board for both Northern California and Southern California by Cal-Hi Sports. In addition, the CIF had drawn up its own proposed lineups before the day began.
“No team really moved more than a half of a division from where we thought they would be,” Nocetti said.
Nocetti later added: “When the commissioners came back into the room after calling schools, there wasn’t one complaint and half of them didn’t know what division they were in. We checked and counted 31 schools playing that wouldn’t have been in games before.”
Here is a division-by-division breakdown of this year’s regional games with our own commentary:
De La Salle (12-1) vs. Centennial, Corona (14-0) at Sacramento State – Saturday, Dec. 19 at 8:00 p.m. The Spartans beat the Huskies 63-42 in last year’s Open Division final. They have won five of the last six games in this division, but are playing a team that likely will be No. 1 in at least two national rankings since St. John Bosco of Bellflower (which Centennial topped 62-52 on Saturday night) had been in that position before.
DIVISION OPEN–SMALL SCHOOL
North: Marin Catholic (12-1) at Central Catholic (14-0) – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Central Catholic has won three straight state titles in the previously used Division IV bracket. This was an easy one to choose after Central Catholic got eligible by winning its CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title.
South: Sierra Canyon (14-0) at San Marino (14-0) – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. After checking enrollments in October and realizing San Marino was below the cutoff line of 1,250, the Titans were always thought of as a strong possibility for this game. They were in a much tougher CIFSS bracket than Sierra Canyon, though, so their odds of getting through weren’t as high. Once they did on Saturday night, they became another easy selection for this bracket.
North: Bellarmine (12-1) at Folsom (14-0) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. This could have gone to Clayton Valley of Concord instead of Bellarmine based on the Uglies only losing to Folsom by one point. Since then, though, injuries have hit them hard and they only won in their section final by one point on Saturday night over Concord.
South: Helix (11-1) at Mission Viejo (14-0) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Coach Bob Johnson was telling others that Helix would be the opponent after last Friday’s win over Vista Murrieta. We told him we thought so as well and on Sunday after Helix won its game the night before that was indeed the case.
North: Clayton Valley Charter (12-1) at Oak Grove, San Jose (11-2) – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. We would have found a way to have Clayton Valley be the host school for this game based on its overall resume not only from this year but last year. Oak Grove is surging after it avenged both of its losses in the last two weeks to Valley Christian of San Jose and St. Francis of Mountain View.
South: Narbonne (12-2) at Ridgeview (13-0) – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. We have Narbonne at No. 13 in the state and Ridgeview lower, but the CIF had to find a way to keep Ridgeview and Liberty of Bakersfield over on the north board in separate divisions. One of Narbonne’s losses was 41-40 to Serra of Gardena in overtime and Serra’s playoff loss in the CIFSS Pac-5 was by one point to Mater Dei. No way we’re changing Narbonne’s ranking until proven otherwise.
North: Del Oro (8-6) at Liberty, Bakersfield (9-3) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. This is the matchup we would have had as well. Of Del Oro’s six losses, one was to De La Salle, one to Folsom, one to Oak Ridge, one to Punahou (Hawaii), one was to Bellarmine and one was to Rocklin (now avenged). Despite all that, couldn’t see the Golden Eagles in front of Oak Grove and they had to know with that many losses that they’d probably be traveling next week.
South: La Habra (13-1) at Camarillo (14-0) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. If Camarillo is as strong as we think it might be (based on wins over Calabasas and St. Bonaventure and Thousand Oaks), this could be a low placement. On the other hand, this looks like a good spot to us for them to run the table and go 16-0. If the CIF didn’t have the Central Section matchup problem to deal with, it’s a weak case for Ridgeview to be in front of Camarillo and Camarillo would have been in D1A.
North: St. Francis, Mountain View (11-2) vs. Pleasant Valley (12-0) at Harrison Stadium, Oroville – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Getting down on the board in this area, the CIF wasn’t going to have St. Francis and Milpitas play each other as the two CCS runner-up teams, especially after it was determined that Milpitas was going to be higher on the board than CCS Open 3 champ Sacred Heart Prep. Pleasant Valley is more of an unknown than recent teams from Enterprise of Redding and we would have had the Vikings lower.
South: Calabasas (13-1) at Citrus Hill (12-2) – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. We’re not sure if it’s good news or bad news for Calabasas to be here. With just a one-point loss to Camarillo, we don’t see the Coyotes behind Citrus Hill in any way. Still, if they go on the road and win, we think they’ll win in the state final (which would be at Calabasas) in a showtime fashion.
North: Milpitas (10-3) at Campolindo (13-1) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. We have Campo higher in our rankings than Pleasant Valley, but facing the big boys of Milpitas is still going to be a challenge for last year’s CIF D3 champs.
South: Oceanside (9-4) at La Mirada (11-3) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Where Oside was going to be placed was one of the big questions of the day. Most around San Diego have had the Pirates behind SDS D2 champ Rancho Bernardo all season, but the committee went against that and slotted the Pirates higher. La Mirada is in a good spot here after beating La Serna for CIFSS Southeast Division title. La Mirada lost its first game 76-8 to St. John Bosco, which shows great resilience but also how much better the Pac-5 is compared to every other CIFSS division.
North: McClymonds (12-0) vs. Sacred Heart Prep (10-3) at Independence HS, San Jose – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. We think Mack people were hoping for D4AA to play either Hanford or Sonora so having to play SHP (which just beat Riordan) is going to be more of a challenge.
South: Rancho Bernardo (11-2) at Oak Hills (9-5) – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. We had Oak Hills vs. Oceanside on our board so instead of the Pirates it’s just the other San Diego Section team. Both the Broncos and Bulldogs are much larger schools than Sacred Heart Prep, but the Gators proved last year they can beat schools of all sizes. Could be a division they can win.
North: Hanford (12-1) at Sonora (12-1) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The travel for this game makes a lot of sense and might have been a factor in McClymonds playing Sacred Heart Prep instead. This should be a very competitive matchup.
South: Canyon, Anaheim (9-5) vs. Bonita Vista (11-2) at Southwestern Community College, Chula Vista – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Canyon’s record includes a forfeit loss. We had Mater Dei Catholic of the SDS higher on our board due to early-season win (later forfeited) over El Capitan (played in last year’s D3 state bowl final). But Bonita Vista does have stronger overall schedule.
North: Sierra, Manteca (8-5) vs. Sutter (9-4) at River Valley HS, Yuba City – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Guess we can call this the “We Got Beat by Ripon” Bowl since both teams had losses to Ripon. Sierra is in the right spot, but Sutter definitely could have been in D5AA and should be ecstatic it is getting a home game.
South: Fairfax (8-6) at Chowchilla (11-2) – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. So how low would Fairfax be placed with its six losses after the win Saturday vs. Los Angeles? We had it D4AA, but we’ll see if D4A is correct. So far, we have learned that city football in L.A. and S.F. is even worse than we thought.
North: Bradshaw Christian (12-1) vs. Immanuel, Reedley (10-2) at Reedley HS – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. In our D5 state rankings, we have Bradshaw two spots higher, but Immanuel is right there so we will find out. Definitely two teams real close to each other.
South: Notre Dame, Riverside (14-0) at Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista (12-2) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Not sure where the CIF got 12-2 for MD Catholic’s record. The Crusaders have one forfeit loss but none on the field. Some of these small school games will be very helpful for our final D4 and D5 overall state rankings.
North: Fall River (12-0) vs. St. Bernard’s (12-1) @ Humboldt State University – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. From a travel standpoint, as soon as St. Bernard’s won its game Saturday vs. Berean Christian, Fall River fans had to know they were headed to the North Coast. The placing of these two teams also matches our D5 state rankings in that they’re both behind Bradshaw Christian and Immanuel.
South: Kennedy, Delano (9-3) vs. Saddleback Valley Christian (13-0*) @ TBD – Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. The bottom four teams in the South were easy to see so it then just became a matter of travel and other logistics to place the teams. If it St. Bernard’s vs. SVC in the final in two weeks, however, that’s a road trip of epic proportions. Fall River to SVC might be even worse.
North: Stone Ridge Christian (12-1) at East Nicolaus (11-2) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Stone Ridge won a play-in game on Saturday 70-21 over Mission of San Francisco. Since East Nicolaus was next lowest on the board, it had to be the team that Stone Ridge would play.
South: Belmont (14-0) at Coronado (9-4) – Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. We had it Kennedy to Coronado in bottom bracket, but Belmont of L.A. is definitely shorter for travel and probably doesn’t matter much.