Here’s a first look at how the teams may begin to be stacking up for this year’s CIF Northern California regional bowl games. We build these boards from the top down and from the bottom going up with the toughest choices for the middle divisions. All of these teams should be viewed as place-holders in the various divisions and many will change as the section playoffs get going. Our first run-through also took Central of Fresno, San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno and Caruthers as those we’d move from the CIF Central Section into the north divisions.
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De La Salle (Concord) 6-1
There’s still no losses to any team north of Fresno for the Spartans since 1991 so if they win the NCS Open Division title once again they will be quickly slotted into this position. De La Salle has been in the CIF state finals every year since the event was re-started in 2006 and has won seven titles.
Folsom 7-0 vs. San Ramon Valley (Danville) 6-0
The Bulldogs are favorites in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 playoffs. SRV is similar to Freedom of Oakley last year in that it is an NCS Open Division team that will likely be playing De La Salle in the playoffs. Pittsburg (4-2) is a team that could also end up as NCS Open runner-up.
Central (Fresno) 5-1 vs. Oakdale 5-1
The Grizzlies, as in previous years, would be brought in to the NorCal bracket as the projected CIF Central Section D1 champions. They still have tough games remaining, however. Oakdale’s slot for this game not only depends on team winning SJS D3 title, but also on beating Central Catholic of Modesto in regular season final. If CC were to win that showdown game and then goes on to win SJS D2 crown, then it would be in the same position as Oakdale is right now on our board.
Central Catholic (Modesto) 5-0 vs. Valley Christian (San Jose) 5-1
The Raiders, along with Oakdale, would have an edge on the board compared to Valley Christian due to VC having that 22-20 loss to Manteca (which later lost to both CC and Oakdale). Valley Christian is simply the placeholder right now for very tough CIF Central Coast Section Open Division 2 bracket. The CCS, as usual, is the most messed up for projected bowl teams because the Open D2 field is packed with top teams (based on enrollment). In addition to Valley Christian (which was Open D3 last year), CCS Open 2 likely will include St. Francis of Mountain View, Serra of San Mateo, Mitty of San Jose (top 4 from WCAL) along with perhaps 6-0 Aragon of San Mateo. The runner-up will get a NorCal bowl bid as well, but it’s too bad that none of the others will, especially compared to the second runner-up from a CCS Open Division that will be going to a bowl game.
Milpitas 6-0* vs. St. Francis (Mountain View) 4-2
The Trojans are strong favorites to win CCS Open 1 title especially with all of those top CCS teams crammed into CCS Open 2. The next team on our board, in fact, would be the runner-up for CCS Open 2 so it looks to us like a good matchup for local CCS fans would be to have Milpitas perhaps play that runner-up squad.
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 4-2 vs. San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 6-0
We’re listing O’Dowd as the defending CIF NCS D3 champion as the same team holding that spot for these projections. The Dragons’ only losses are to Freedom and De La Salle (both D1 in NCS) but that bracket is going to be insane. Marin Catholic (6-0), Cardinal Newman (5-1 with only loss to St. Mary’s of Stockton) and Rancho Cotate (6-0) are all high in Bay Area/NorCal rankings. We also would move over San Joaquin Memorial from the Central Section for this spot. If it was O’Dowd and San Joaquin Memorial, that would be two schools that have played many big games over the years in basketball. In football, SJM has beaten Garces of Bakersfield and last week Garces beat Bakersfield High. This Panther team, if it runs the table in Central Sec D3, is not to be taken lightly.
Half Moon Bay 6-0 vs. Sutter 5-1
In the complicated CCS system, it looks like Half Moon Bay is going to be in the Open 3 bracket and therefore may be projected to win (especially because Palma of Salinas is way down this year and Valley Christian is now in Open 2). The Cougars have big games coming up against both Aragon and Menlo-Atherton so after that we’ll be able to get a better indication of how strong they are. As for Sutter, the Huskies again would seem to be the top overall team in the CIF Northern Section. They would again be in that section’s D3 bracket. Their only loss is to Orem, Utah. They don’t have a signature win like they did last year over Palma and therefore won’t be nearly as high on the NorCal board.
McClymonds (Oakland) 6-0 vs. Placer (Auburn) 5-1
The Warriors were champions last year in D5-A and will be higher in divisional placement this season. This is just assuming they’re going to win another Oakland Sec title. They are playing 6-0 Fremont this week. Placer has a quality win over Aptos of the CCS and would project to be top seed out of SJS Division 4. There is a possibility, however, according to SJS assistant commissioner Will DeBoard, that Manteca could again fall to D4. If that happens, then Manteca would be favored and might be higher on the board. Watch out for Woodland in SJS D4 too. The Wolves (5-1) are the ones who just upset previously unbeaten River Valley of Yuba City.
Bellarmine (San Jose) 3-3 vs. Campolindo (Moraga) 4-2
Yes, this is the same Bellarmine team that lost two weeks ago 48-0 to Serra. But in the wacky world of the CCS the Bells project to be D1 Open and D2 Open is where everybody else is. The Bells also have a head-to-head win over Menlo-Atherton and therefore would project to be the runner-up to Milpitas in D1 Open and in front of the runner-up for D3 Open. Bellarmine may not even get into the CCS playoffs, however, and needs to beat Sacred Heart Cathedral in upcoming game for that to happen. We frankly don’t know who else to guess with yet as the second CCS Open Division runner-up team. As for Campo, the Cougars aren’t as good as perhaps four or five teams from NCS D3, but they’re in NCS D2 so they don’t have to worry about any of them. With their CIF state title experience, they could still win NCS D2 title and do well in one of these lower divisions.
Shasta (Redding) 5-1 vs. Sonora 5-2
This would be a matchup of the projected CIF Northern Section D2 champ vs. the SJS D5 champ. Shasta doesn’t seem as strong as Pleasant Valley of Chico from last year and PV even at 2-4 right now doesn’t seem out of it. The Vikings have played a stronger schedule. Sonora has a loss to Oakdale and another one to Lodi but also has a win over 5-1 Calaveras. The SJS D5 bracket also has some others to watch like unbeaten Orestimba along with Colfax (5-1).
St. Bernard’s (Eureka) 6-0 vs. East Nicolaus (Nicolaus) 6-0
These two hooking up would actually be great. While East Nicolaus (which played McClymonds tough in a loss last year but won a CIF state title the year before that) looks like a pretty solid favorite for Northern Section Division IV title, St. Bernard’s has others to deal with for NCS D4. Harker Academy of San Jose also is unbeaten and so is Hercules (7-0). We also like Fortuna (6-1), which has lost only to Cardinal Newman.
Winner of Play-In Game vs. St. Patrick/St. Vincent (Vallejo) 6-0
Early results indicate that St. Pat/St. Vincent may be better than last year when it won D6-A state title. We’d therefore move up the Bruins at least one division and would have them play winner of play-in matchup between SJS D6 champion (projected to be Summerville of Tuolomne 5-1) and the CIF San Francisco Section champion (projected to be Lincoln of San Francisco 5-1) for the NorCal crown. Summerville’s only loss so far is by 37-27 to Sonora.
Winner of Play-In Game vs. Caruthers (6-0)
The other play-in game for the north as we have it would be similar to last year for the bottom division, which means the D5 Northern Section champion (projected to be Chester) against the SJS D7 titlist (projected to be Stone Ridge Christian of Merced). We’d be moving Caruthers from the Central Section over to the north for this spot as well. Caruthers is D5 in that section compared to D6 for Strathmore, but Strathmore is much higher in computer rankings. Note that the CIF has the option for inserting play-in games in a higher division of the NorCal board, but at this point the best scenarios are just to keep them both at the bottom.