Each week on Thursdays, we’ll pick one game involving a team in the Top 50 of our state rankings that we think has the best chance to suffer an upset loss. We’ll see if we can nail a few of them during the season. Picking 70 percent of wins is easy for any prep writer. But just stick to upsets and it’s not so easy.
UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK
Serra (San Mateo) over Pittsburg
Pitt was a team with high expections due to a high number of skill players returning from a squad that was in the CIF North Coast Section Open Division. The Pirates are still No. 34 in this week’s State Top 50 after their opening-week lopsided loss to No. 3 Corona Centennial (62-21) and then having a bye.
There’s no doubt Centennial would roll just about every other NorCal team similarly as it did Pitt, but the Pirates still may be figuring out how to operate without expected starting QB Trey Turner, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Plus, against Serra, the Pirates won’t have junior lineman Jacob Bandes (6-2, 275), an all-state sophomore from last season. The key for Pitt may be junior QB Justin Boyd improving his play from the first game.
Serra dropped its first game 41-13 to defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 champ St. Mary’s of Stockton, then headed back in that direction last week but beat Elk Grove 42-21. It’s questionable to take too much out of beating Elk Grove yet, but the problems the Padres had against St. Mary’s seemed fixable. The athletes are there, on both sides of the ball, for Serra to be one of the best, maybe the best, team in the CCS. Luke Bottari completed 12 of 17 passes for 176 yards against Elk Grove and Patrick Nunn (DB/LB/WR) is a top-flight college prospect.
Maybe it’s not much of an upset to pick Serra, playing at home for the first time this season, to beat Pitt. The Pirates did win at their place against the Padres quite easily last year, though, and they will not want to start 0-2. Still, the Padres winning this game seems like the best gamble of the weekend involving state-ranked teams.
Upset Special Record So Far This Year: 1-0 (had it correct that Oaks Christian would defeat Edison of Huntington Beach)
Note: We may start picking upsets for projected section championship teams once we start doing projections for the various CIF state bowl games.