Go inside here to see how the NorCal side of the CIF state football championship divisions looks after all Saturday games were completed on December 1. To say we nailed it from the night before would be an understatement: Only the awarding of a bye to Pleasant Valley (Chico) instead of Aptos was all that we projected differently. De La Salle of Concord won the big game in CIF North Coast Section and clinched its spot opposite Mater Dei in next Saturday’s CIF Open Division state final. We also are indicating which SoCal teams have already won in regional finals played this weekend and will be waiting to see which opponents they will play in two weeks.
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De La Salle (Concord) 12-0
Make it 27 straight CIF North Coast Section titles for the Spartans (an ongoing state record) after they topped previously unbeaten and state No. 8 Liberty (Brentwood) 42-7 on Saturday night at Dublin High. DLS also wrapped up a 10th straight appearance in the CIF Open Division state final. This year’s game will be next Saturday night at Cerritos College against defending state champion Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and will be one week before four other CIF state titles are played in other divisions at the same venue. Mater Dei avenged its only loss one week ago by defeated St. John Bosco of Bellflower 17-13 in the CIF Southern Section Division I championship.
Folsom 12-1 vs. Central (Fresno) 13-0
Sac-Joaquin Sec D1 & Central Sec D1. Friday at Central. With Liberty losing in the NCS Open final to De La Salle (even though most likely Central would have done the same), the CIF went ahead and did pit the Grizzlies against defending D1-AA state champion Folsom in this regional final. It’s a rematch of a competitive game Folsom won at home last year in the same division. Folsom did what it was supposed to have done on Saturday in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 final with a 63-25 triumph over previously unbeaten Monterey Trail. This time, though, since Folsom has been home for its two previous NorCal regional games, the CIF will use Central as the home site. Note that home sites for CIF regional games are not based on seeding or higher ranked team.
SoCal Champion: Cathedral Catholic (San Diego). The Dons (12-1) earned a hard-fought 24-21 win in the regional final on Friday against Narbonne of Harbor City. See new State Top 50 rankings feature on Monday for more details.
Liberty (Brentwood) 12-1 vs. Valley Christian (San Jose) 11-2
NCS Open runner-up & CIF Central Coast Section Open 2 champion. Saturday at Valley Chrstian. This spot was shown for Valley Christian’s league rivals from St. Francis of Mountain View for several weeks, but in Saturday’s CCS Open 2 final the Warriors notched a 31-30 win over the Lancers in two overtimes. If VC had lost that game, it wouldn’t have made it into the NorCal bowl field due to hard-to-believe CCS playoff points formula involving Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton. Now that head coach Mike Machado’s team has won and is in and just beat season-long CCS rankings leader St. Francis (also avenging an earlier loss) it made the most sense to stick the Warriors where St. Francis was previous placed. Liberty falls down to D1-A after the loss to De La Salle. Two years ago, when Freedom of Oakley was in the same situation, it played in a D1-AA NorCal final opposite St. Mary’s of Stockton. Liberty has the ability to bounce back and win this game.
SoCal Champion: Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth). The Trailblazers (12-3) won a defensive slugfest against Upland 7-3 on Saturday and will try to win their second CIF state title in two weeks.
Del Oro (Loomis) 12-1 vs. St. Francis (Mountain View) 11-2
SJS D2 champion & CCS Open 2 runner-up. Friday at Del Oro. St. Francis was No. 10 in the state coming into the game with Valley Christian and obviously couldn’t fall any further than the next division down. Del Oro captured the Sac-Joaquin Section D2 title on Saturday with a stunning 20-17 win vs. Central Catholic of Modesto, which we had been listing in this same spot on the board but we had frequently mentioned Del Oro as a co-favorite. Head coach Jeff Walters’ team simply goes onto the same spot where Central Catholic had been.
SoCal champion: Grace Brethren (Simi Valley). The Lancers (13-2) used 150 rushing yards and three TDs from Josh Henderson to defeat St. Augustine of San Diego 28-14 on Friday night. They were in D2-A state final last year.
San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 13-0 vs. Tulare 13-0
Central Sec D3 champion & Central Sec D2 champion. Saturday at Tulare. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if the next CCS team in line, which would have been Open Divison 1 champion Menlo-Atherton, was put up into this division after topping previously unbeaten Wilcox of Santa Clara on Friday. Combined with Valley Christian having to go way up, our first inclination was to not to continue to go with these two CIF Central Section teams against each other. In the end, though, we still didn’t think the CIF would go with an NCS coin flip team this high (even if it had been Cardinal Newman) plus Tulare actually has a higher computer ranking than M-A. They can still logically promote this matchup and we know the locals will love it.
SoCal champion: Lawndale. The Cardinals (13-2) used the amazing skills of RB Jordan Wilmore (244 yds rushing, 3 TDs) to beat previously unbeaten South Hills of West Covina 42-14 in the SoCal D2-A regional final.
Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) 11-2 vs Eureka 12-0
CCS Open 1 champion & NCS D3. Friday at Eureka. M-A is super talented but this placement would be the same division in which the Bears were placed two years ago when they lost to Paraclete (Lancaster) in state final. The Bears came from a 21-0 deficit on Friday to defeat Wilcox 33-28 in their section final. Cardinal Newman and Eureka won NCS 3A semifinals and were the only NCS teams that did a coin flip to determine a NorCal bowl bid. The Loggers won that flip Sunday morning conducted in the office of NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon. Newman lost and is now done for the season. Newman likely was in this D3-AA slot heading into the weekend and for simplicity we didn’t think the CIF would change its board when Eureka won the flip.
SoCal champion: Lincoln (San Diego). The Hornets (11-3*) went on a 20-0 run in the fourth quarter to defeat CIFSS D7 champion Culver City 54-42 in Friday’s regional title game.
Capital Christian (Sacramento) 13-0 vs. Wilcox (Santa Clara) 12-1
Sac-Joaquin D3 champion & CCS Open 1 runner-up. At Wilcox, Saturday. The CIF could conceivably have used its bye for the NCS D2 slot (both teams in the finals for that division, Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland and Marin Catholic of Kentfield, are playing on and did not flip coin) for this division, but remember everyone slid down from the previous board thanks to Valley Christian.
We therefore slid down Capital Christian from where we had the Cougars before and into a matchup opposite Wilcox, which just lost in the CCS Open 1 final. Capital Christian won a matchup of 12-0 teams on Saturday by edging Placer of Auburn 25-22. In our State Top 50 from last Monday, we had Capital and Menlo-Atherton close together so for us dropping down Wilcox to the same range as where the Bears were made the most sense. The CIF agreed and like the previous divisions also had this matchup taking place in this division.
SoCal champion: Kaiser (Fontana). Saturday’s SoCal D3-A final was a shootout as the Kats (14-1) outlasted previously unbeaten Eisenhower of Rialto 48-40. State rushing leader Christian Hunter rampaged for 331 yards rushing and seven TDs.
Pleasant Valley (Chico) 9-3 vs. NCS D2 vacancy (BYE)
Northern Section D2 champion. Because of the bye, Vikings are playing Central Valley Christian (Visalia) at home for state title in this division on Saturday, Dec. 15. With the upsets from above, this is about where the NCS D2 champion (either Bishop O’Dowd or Marin Catholic) probably was going to be located (or one spot higher but didn’t have to be). That spot is going to be vacated since both finalists aren’t flipping a coin on Sunday. We had Aptos in this division after a 35-34 win on Saturday over Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton, but the CIF instead moved up Pleasant Valley into D4-AA and gave the Vikings this position and a bye. They avenged one of their losses on Friday night with a 20-17 win over arch-rival Chico in their section final. PV’s computer ranking of 102 is lower than Aptos (80), but it’s not a stretch to have the Vikings here and besides giving it to a Butte County school in the aftermath of the Camp Fire is completely justified. Both PV and Chico High have been fabulous in support of neighbors from Paradise.
SoCal champion: Central Valley Christian (Visalia). The Cavaliers (12-2) earned their shot at a state title in this division by downing Morse of San Diego 30-14 last Friday in Visalia.
McClymonds (Oakland) 9-2 vs. Aptos 11-2
Oakland Section & CCS Open 3 champion. At Aptos, Saturday. Mack won its ninth straight Oakland Section title on Friday 38-0 over Oakland High. We’ve known all along that the Warriors were going to have to move up in divisions this season after winning two straight state titles, but their loss to Palo Alto gave caution to put them up there with any of the top four CCS teams. Aptos qualified for the board after a 35-34 win on Saturday over Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton. If SHP had won, that also would have eliminated Aptos from the board and clinched it for Valley Christian before the Warriors even took the field against St. Francis.
SoCal champion: Garfield (Los Angeles). The Bulldogs (13-1) proved what we suspected and that was that Central Section D5 winner Kennedy of Delano was too high on the SoCal board with a 42-14 win on Saturday over the Thunderbirds.
Rio Linda 11-2 vs. West Valley (Cottonwood) 13-1
SJS D4 champion & Northern Sec D3. At West Valley, Friday. With Colfax’s close call and Rio Linda following up a win over Oakdale with a 63-14 romp past Casa Roble of Orangevale in Saturday’s SJS D4 final, we really didn’t think the Knights should have been behind Colfax on the board despite computer ranking that had Colfax higher. Besides, how about the offense vs. defense matchup that this one will be. West Valley won its sectional final with a 7-0 win on Friday vs. Sutter and according to one tweet did not allow a first down for the entire game.
SoCal champion: San Gorgonio (San Bernardino). The Spartans (12-3) won a scorefest vs. Anaheim Western 43-28 to advance. Note that Western receiver Caine Savage had three TD catches and ended his season with 32, just two short of the reported state record.
Colfax 13-0 vs. NCS D4 vacancy (BYE)
SJS D5 champion. Since we doubted that the CIF would match Colfax and Rio Linda against each other, the Falcons clearly were the next team in line. They won their section title on Friday night 31-28 in overtime over league rival Bear River (Lake of the Pines). Bear River was in this same spot on the board last year after winning same section title and lost in regional final to Fortuna. The NCS D4 semifinalists winning this weekend were Moreau Catholic (Hayward) and Salesian (Richmond) and indicated to NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon that they don’t want to coin flip and will play on for the section title next week. All of this means that on our board we had Colfax with the third bye as a result of the NCS situation. The CIF did the same on Sunday morning. Falcons are hosting San Diego High on Saturday, Dec. 15 in D5-A state final.
SoCal champion: San Diego High. We’ll have to get out the history books for the Cavers (11-2) to perhaps win a state title in two weeks. They took down Linfield Christian of Temecula 42-31 in Saturday’s regional final in this division.
East Nicolaus (Nicolaus) 13-0 vs. Hilmar 11-2
Northern Sec D4 & Sac-Joaquin D6. At Atwater High, Friday. This possible matchup between NorCal small school powers made sense. East Nic won its fourth straight section title on Friday with 46-14 win over a Durham squad that inexplicably was seeded higher. Hilmar took down previously unbeaten Ripon Christian 57-14 in its section final. The Yellowjackets won their second straight section crown and eighth in school history. This matchup of Hilmar in D6AA also sets up the possibility of a state title game involving the Yellowjackets and Strathmore from the south. In a play-in game for last year’s D6AA bracket, Strathmore outlasted Hilmar 53-52 in two overtimes and then went on to go 16-0 and win the title. The CIF saw the juicy nature of a Hilmar-Strathmore rematch and matched our projection on Sunday.
SoCal Champion: Strathmore. The Spartans (12-1) scored on defense twice in beating CIFSS D13 champion Adelanto 28-7 on Friday night 28-7 and clinched their spot in the state final.
North Coast Section D5 vacancy (BYE) vs.
Lincoln (San Francisco) 12-0*
NCS D5 & San Francisco Section. There also was no coin flip for NCS D5 spot in the bowl games between finalists Middletown (beat top seed Kelseyville on Friday night) and Salesian of Richmond (beat Stellar Prep on Saturday) so that bracket’s spot on the NorCal board became vacant. Lincoln was expected to have a close game in Friday’s CIF San Francisco Section championship vs. Mission but rolled the Bears 53-0. The Mustangs only won last week 7-0 and only beat Mission 29-15 earlier in the season. Regardless, we did’t see Lincoln being higher on the board than either Hilmar or East Nicolaus and thought the bye would fall to the San Francisco team. Now that it became official on Sunday, Lincoln is playing Orange Glen of Escondido on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 12 noon for state title at George Washington High. The stadium at Washington has a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge so any and all Orange Glen folks will not want to miss that.
SoCal champion: Orange Glen (Escondido). The Patriots (10-3) notched a 22-14 victory on Saturday in their regional final over Locke of Los Angeles.
Finally, congrats to Denair for winning school’s first CIF state title with easy 42-14 win against Santee of Los Angeles on Saturday night at home for D7-AA crown. We’ll have more details for State Stat Stars feature later in upcoming week.
Note: Fall River (McArthur) 12-0 won CIF Northern Section D5 title with 45-6 victory over Chester on the previous weekend and opted out of the CIF bowls. Chester won that title in 2017 and did the same thing.
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