All of the CIF NorCal and SoCal regional bowl choices are out. Go inside to see what we think for each division and to check out which teams we peg as the favorites to win titles in every division.
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The following is the schedule for the 2016 CIF Regional Football Championship Bowl Games for Divisions 1-AA through 6-A. Winners from the NorCal and SoCal Regional games will advance to the CIF State Football Championships representing their respective divisions for the title of CIF State Champion. All teams were slotted based on competitive equity and the respective criteria.
All comments and quick picks for each division are from Cal-Hi Sports and not an indication of any input from the CIF itself.
De La Salle of Concord (11-1) Concord vs. St. John Bosco of Bellflower (12-2) at Hornet Stadium, Sacramento State – Saturday, Dec. 17 at 8:00 p.m.
Comment: As long as the Spartans are continuing to cast their giant shadow on all of NorCal (no losses to teams north of Fresno in 25 years, no losses ever to any teams from Sac-Joaquin Sec, etc.) there’s no other way for the CIF to go when they win their NCS title. There’s also no other way to go to match DLS against the CIFSS D1 winner unless there’s some head-to-head loss to an L.A. City, Central Sec or San Diego team.
Quick Pick: As much as we respect all that is DLS and how far the Spartans have come since early in the season, the sense we’ve had all season is the fairly large gap that St. John Bosco, Mater Dei and Corona Centennial have over everybody else in the state.
North: Freedom of Oakley (11-1) at St. Mary’s of Stockton (13-1) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Narbonne of Harbor City (14-0) at Cathedral Catholic of San Diego (13-0) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: Freedom may have lost big to DLS, but its wins throughout the season clearly kept the Falcons in the three spot on the NorCal board. Narbonne on the road instead of at home is a reflection of the Gauchos’ computer ranking dropping in the course of the season due to the general weakness of the L.A. City D1 bracket compared to CC being in an Open Division. You’d think winning a CIF D1-A state title and having to travel last year to play Bakersfield Ridgeview would have merited a better deal for Narbonne from the CIF.
Quick Pick: A lot of folks in Stockton have thought about St. Mary’s playing Cathedral Catholic again in a state final. They played in the D2 bowl game in 2008 in a game State Player of the Year Tyler Gaffney scored six TDs for the Dons. First reaction is that it will happen again, but the Tyler Gaffney clone plays at St. Mary’s named Dusty Frampton. Many in SoCal will scoff at the Rams because of their huge loss to Bosco, but Frampton got hurt on the first play in that game and the way they are playing with the final at Sac State this is a bracket they definitely can win.
North: Bakersfield (11-2) at Del Oro of Loomis (12-2) – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
South: San Clemente (11-3) vs. Edison of Huntington Beach (13-1) at Huntington Beach HS – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: We’ve thought all year and in talking to our great Central Section correspondent Bob Barnett that it’s just been a down season there. The CIF struggled with this placement but put the Drillers in this spot opposite Del Oro anyway. Our problem with DO is that until this week we had to still rank the team behind Oak Ridge due to head-to-head loss. San Clemente and Edison is indeed a strong matchup and will get strong support from Orange County. Regardless, Calabasas has been the better team since day one over either one. We get it that the CIFSS wants to protect its competitive equity divisional pecking order as much as possible (San Clemente D2, Edison D3 and Calabasas D5) and you could argue that Edison could be ranked higher than Calabasas. There’s not a metric at all (humans, computers, common sense), however, that would rank San Clemente with three losses ahead of the Coyotes.
North: Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa (12-1) at Valley Christian of San Jose (12-1) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Calabasas (14-0) at Madison of San Diego (11-2) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: In a nutshell, Cardinal Newman is too high. Yeah, know that VC can’t play Serra in a bowl game. But putting the Cards this high on the board basically because their one loss to Stockton St. Mary’s “wasn’t that bad” isn’t enough. We’d have had VC playing Del Oro, Serra in this division playing Bakersfield and Newman down further playing Sanger or Manteca. In the south, Calabasas actually could have been even lower (behind Sierra Canyon due to CIFSS divisional order), but at least some sanity prevailed to match up the Coyotes with San Diego Madison, which has some of the top D1 talent of any team in that section.
Quick Pick: No doubt that Calabasas is the favorite here. How the team will react given its attention will be key. No disrespect to Madison fans and players, but for various reasons we’ve never seen QB Tristan Gebbia, WR/DB Darnay Holmes and company yet and we really want to see them up in Sac. Holmes didn’t play in this week’s game, though, so hope injury isn’t bad.
North: Serra of San Mateo (9-4) at Sanger (13-0) – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Los Angeles (11-3) at Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (13-0*) at Granada Hills HS – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: Some in the Central Section have thought all year that Sanger was right up there with Bakersfield and Central of Fresno as top overall team in section. There just aren’t a lot of scores to look at to prove that, which made it hard to place the Apaches on the board. If Serra plays like it has in the last month, even on the road might be tough for Sanger. In the south, once Calabasas got slotted into D2-AA, Sierra Canyon was a cinch for D2-A. Hawkins probably would have played Calabasas in D2-AA if it had won vs. L.A. High, but the Romans winning basically caused a flip with Madison going up and them coming in opposite the Trail Blazers.
Quick Pick: Serra is like Del Oro last year, which went 4-6 in regular season only to come back and beat a 15-0 team for a CIF state title. The way the Padres beat St. Francis a second time is a good sign for them.
North: Manteca (12-1) at Menlo-Atherton of Atherton (11-2) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Mater Dei Catholic of Chula Vista (12-1) vs. Paraclete of Lancaster (10-4) at Antelope Valley College – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: We would have had Manteca a bit higher so the Buffs getting an M-A team that arguably should have been behind Palma of Salinas in CCS pecking order is a good spot for them. Mater Dei Catholic probably was locked into this game to play Los Altos of Hacienda Heights and it didn’t take long to check out Paraclete’s resume to just replace the Spirits after their win over the Conquerors. The losses are against a strong schedule for team in this bracket range.
Quick Pick: MD Catholic easily has the most dynamic player among the four with Oregon-bound RB C.J. Verdell. A Manteca-MD Catholic final, since it may be down south, would be too tough to call. Paraclete also may have edge due to experience of head coach Dean Herrington (formerly Alemany and longtime assistant at state power Hart of Newhall), who knows how to win big games.
North: Sutter (13-0) at Oakdale (12-2) – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Bishop’s of La Jolla (13-0) at Valley Christian of Cerritos (12-2), Cerritos – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: We had Sutter and Oakdale playing in several run-throughs of our NorCal board (not the last one) so that’s a pairing that makes sense. Both Valley Christian and St. Anthony of Long Beach (in same league) were moved up higher than CIFSS D7 and D8 champions because St. Anthony has a high computer ranking and VC beat the Saints head-to-head. We checked that out as well and frankly just don’t see why that computer ranking for St. Anthony is that high. We would have kept San Gorgonio and Yorba Linda higher.
Quick Pick: Oakdale is a team that has played Clayton Valley and Gardena Serra in CIF state bowl games. Sorry, but none of these teams are close to that. The way the Mustangs have been rolling, they’d be our choice at first glance.
North: Campolindo of Moraga (10-3) vs. Palma of Salinas (10-3), Salinas at Rabobank Stadium, Salinas – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Bakersfield Christian (12-1) at Selma (13-0) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: After our projections were off by a team or two from NorCal divisions 1-A and downward, they got more in line from this point downward. Campolindo’s recent CIF state bowl titles likely helped the Cougars get seeded higher than Bishop O’Dowd and beating Milpitas last year helped as well. Putting the two Central Sec teams together generally isn’t preferred by the CIF but doing it with these two prevents travel and it’s not a bad matchup.
Quick Pick: Yes, Palma lost that first game to Sutter, but we keep thinking about the team that beat San Benito when it was 9-0, the team that lost to St. Francis (Mountain View) by one point and then Valley Christian 14-10. If that team shows up the next two weeks, Salinas folks may be very happy.
North: Milpitas (10-3) vs. Pleasant Valley of Chico (9-3) at Harrison Stadium, Oroville – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Yorba Linda (12-2) vs. St. Anthony of Long Beach (12-2) at Veterans Stadium, Long Beach – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: Since Milpitas and Palma can’t play each other and you wouldn’t want the Trojans any lower, they had to kind of fit in this division. Pleasant Valley didn’t do well last year in its home game vs. St. Francis, but this could be a better fit. In the South, we’ll find out quickly if St. Anthony’s high computer ranking is accurate or not.
Quick Pick: Just like Palma is in a good spot in the division above, Milpitas is a team many will remember that beat Antioch this season and has some great D1 players. We like the way PV, though, beat Paradise in its section final. Think winner of that game will win state.
North: Capital Christian of Sacramento (11-2) at Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland (13-1) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Valley View of Moreno Valley (11-3) at San Gorgonio of San Bernardino (11-3) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: We still like the idea better of having Selma from the Central Sec in this spot and Sanger over on the SoCal board. O’Dowd has been ranked higher than Campolindo in Bay Area all year but CIF and NCS seeded it other way around. Both Valley View and San G had to survive thrillers to win CIFSS titles so matching them up and both from Inland Empire makes sense.
Quick Pick: O’Dowd recently beat Capital Christian in a NorCal Open Division game in boys hoops, then won state title the next week. Look for that to happen again in football in this division.
North: East Nicolaus (13-0) vs. McClymonds of Oakland (11-1) at Chabot College, Hayward – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Arroyo of El Monte (13-1) at La Jolla Country Day (11-3) – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: We had it this way as well but assume the most unhappy folks have to be in East Nicolaus. Team won D6-A last year, gets jumped two divisions and on the road to play in East Bay against team with computer ranking about 30 spots higher. Glad CIF did not match the D12 and D13 teams from the CIFSS together and placed Country Day here.
Quick Pick: Since LJCD would get to play both games at home and has record-breaking QB Braxton Burmeister going at a high level, the Torreys may get a CIF football title to go with the ones they have had from the great Terri Bamford’s girls basketball program.
North: Mendota (13-0) vs. Amador of Sutter Creek (13-1) at Calaveras HS – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Rancho Christian of Temecula (12-2) at Franklin of Los Angeles (13-1) – Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: East Nicolaus and Amador certainly could have switched positions, but choice already was made with Amador having to be in a play-in game against SF Lincoln. Building the board from the bottom up also showed CIFSS D13 vs. LA City D3 was going to be hard to ignore.
Quick Pick: We’re already thinking about list of coaches who have won state football titles at different schools. Rancho Christian’s Jim Kunau won one in 2009 at Orange Lutheran. We like the way his team knocked off Santa Ana in CIFSS D13 final.
North: Brookside Christian of Stockton (9-4) at St. Patrick-St. Vincent of Vallejo (11-3) – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Horizon Christian Academy of San Diego (7-6) at Strathmore (13-0) – Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: There were no surprises on these matchups. It could be an opportunity for small town team from Central Section in this division.
Quick Pick: The 13-0 record of Strathmore stands out, but pretty sure Brookside Christian has a couple of athletes that none of the other teams do.