These are the choices that the CIF has made for this year’s regional bowl games after all of the CIF section championship results came in on Saturday night. The big news is that 14-0 Crescenta Valley of La Crescenta, the CIF Southern Section Division 10 champion that would have been in the 3AA to 3A range on the south board, decided not to participate. That necessitated some additional moves by the CIF, including the awarding of a bye to CIF Central Section D6 champion Bishop. Given Bishop’s rather out-of-the-way location, for travel considerations that makes sense. Check back later in the week for a CIF bowl board series of video presentations in which we’ll go over the board once again and will break down the teams more closely.
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Note: This year, the CIF no longer considered runner-ups in a so-called Open Division. This had a much bigger impact in the north than in the south since the sections sending Open Division runner-ups were from the CCS and NCS (although L.A. City also was doing it). Only section champions are eligible to be in a CIF regional championship. The CIF also has the option of using any three teams from the CIF Central Section in the north or south. For this year, it was Central, San Joaquin Memorial and Caruthers in the north with Bakersfield Christian, Selma and Bishop in the south.
(Note: all records are from the CIF for this post so they would reflect forfeits; the win-loss records we use for all of our lists and rankings will not count forfeits.)
De La Salle of Concord (NCS D1) 12-1 vs. St. John Bosco of Bellflower (CIFSS D1) 12-1 at Cerritos College, Norwalk – Saturday, Dec. 14 at 8:00 p.m.
Comment: Bosco forced the removal of Mater Dei as the SoCal team going to the Open Division after its 39-34 win on Saturday night on the same Cerritos College turf that the Braves will play on in two weeks against De La Salle. The Spartans are looking to break a three-game losing streak in state finals that has taken their record in state finals to 7-6 from 7-3 after they won their second straight Open crown in 2015.
North: Central of Fresno (Central Sec D1) 13-0 at Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills (SJS D1) 11-2 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (CIFSS D2) 13-1 at Helix of La Mesa (SD Open) 11-1 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: Yeah, guess that since Folsom of the SJS D1 won the D1-AA state title the last two years that Oak Ridge could be this high. But Serra of San Mateo has been ranked higher and is still going to be higher in this week’s state rankings. Serra’s only loss by one point. Oak Ridge losses to Folsom and Rocklin with playoff wins the last two weeks over Inderkum and Monterey Trail (team that beat Folsom). Central fans are ticked about team having to go on the road, but that’s just because their team was at home last season. CIF often flips it for teams like that. Sierra Canyon also is going to be ranked lower than a 1-A team this week. In that case, it will be Corona del Mar higher. And there’s a good chance that we’ll keep it that way even if both teams were to win state titles. CIFSS and CIF just don’t care as much about teams losing games like we do. If they don’t really count, then why bother playing at all other than the playoffs.
North: San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno (Central Sec D2) 12-1 at Serra of San Mateo (CCS D1) 12-1 – Saturday, Dec. 7 at Noon
South: Oceanside (SD D1) 11-3 vs. Corona del Mar of Newport Beach (CIFSS D3) 14-0 at Newport Harbor HS – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Comment: We thought SJM might come up this far for the final board and that is what has happened. Serra and Corona del Mar both look like favorites to win regional titles and then meet up for state crown. CdM has played and beaten a team from Serra’s West Catholic Athletic League, St. Francis of Mountain View, so if that state final happens you can be sure the Padre coaches and Lancer coaches will be talking.
North: Elk Grove (SJS D2) 10-4 at Clayton Valley Charter of Concord (NCS D2) 8-5 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Aquinas of San Bernardino (CIFSS D5) 12-2 at San Juan Hills of San Juan Capistrano (CIFSS D4) 11-3 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: The way that the Thundering Herd and the Ugly Eagles played in their section finals (EG beat Whitney of Rocklin 35-0 for SJS D2 title and Clayton Valley beat Campolindo of Moraga 28-7 for NCS D2 crown) we thought both could come up to D2-AA and play each other. Previously, remember we had McClymonds up there in 1-A based on some of its early-season results and where the Warriors were being ranked by others in the Bay Area. McClymonds not being this high (won D4-A last year) also makes sense. Aquinas and San Juan Hills were the teams that knocked out the two longtime L.A. area parochial rivals that would have obviously met in this game. Falcons took out St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs 21-16 for CIFSS D5 title. Stallions went up to downtown L.A. and defeated Loyola 21-15 for CIFSS D4 crown.
North: Manteca (SJS D3) 11-2 at McClymonds of Oakland (Oakland Sec) 10-0 – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
South: Pacifica of Oxnard (CIFSS D6) 13-1 at Birmingham of Lake Balboa (L.A. City Open) 8-4 – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Comment: We would have had Cardinal Newman in this game opposite Mack and also Temecula Valley opposite Pacifica. McClymonds going to try to tie state record with a fourth straight state title. Manteca has a league loss to Central Catholic and another one to Downey of Modesto from very early in season, but won in a bracket that included Capital Christian, Placer and Buhach Colony. The CIF could have gone with Pacifica higher based on its computer ranking but pretty much went straight down the line of the CIFSS divisional champions. The CIFSS probably fights hard to keep it that way since it’s such a strong proponent of competitive equity everywhere. For Birmingham, which has a computer ranking more similar to teams in 4AA than 2-A, this placement could be too high. The Patriots are the CIF L.A. City Open champion but let’s face it Narbonne would have been D1-AA if it was still playing. And last year the second-best L.A. City team was down in 4-A (Garfield) and lost to McClymonds in a state final.
North: Los Gatos (CCS D2) 12-1 at Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa (NCS D4) 12-1 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Temecula Valley of Temecula (CIFSS D7) 12-2 at El Camino of Oceanside (SD D2) 8-6 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: El Camino enters the bracket after winning one of the wildest section finals in state history. The Wildcats, who have been used to being in close games (two-point loss to San Diego Lincoln, four-point win over Oceanside), trailed unbeaten Bishop’s of La Jolla 45-20 at halftime but ended up winning 75-59. Bishop’s also led in that game 59-36 in the third quarter. Temecula Valley, though, could still be tough draw. The Golden Bears were a tri-champion with Vista Murrieta and Murrieta Valley in the highly regarded Southwestern League but in the CIFSS playoffs were only D7 due to previous season win-loss records. This is a tough spot for Los Gatos but it’s a good one for Cardinal Newman (only loss in close game to Liberty of Brentwood).
North: Rancho Cotate of Rohnert Park (NCS D3) 10-3 at Sierra of Manteca (SJS D4) 11-3 – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
South: Sunny Hills of Fullerton (CIFSS D8) 12-2 at Bakersfield Christian (Central Sec D3) 10-3 – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Comment: We had the Cougars and Timberwolves meeting in this division after they both won section titles over Las Lomas of Walnut Creek and Oakdale, both as lower seeds and in the case of Sierra getting an avenging win. Sunny Hills has a lower computer ranking than some of the lower CIFSS divisional champions such as Crescenta Valley (opted) out and Highland of Palmdale, which is the team we would have had playing Bakersfield Christian since those two are much closer on the map. Crescenta Valley’s placement, by the way, would clearly have been in this range or even higher as a 14-0 team. We don’t know if the CIFSS D10 champs would have been higher than Sunny Hills (D8) or Highland (D9) because of how much the CIFSS hates to go against its own divisions but if you’re doing rankings that make the most sense then clearly the Falcons are higher. Head coach Hudson Gossard told the Los Angeles Times that injuries to the offensive line were significant so the decision was made to skip the CIF state brackets. Crescenta Valley is the highest-ranked team to ever decline a CIF state placement in the 14 years since the state football event was brought back from not being held since 1927.
North: Sutter (Northern Sec D3) 12-1 at Ripon (SJS D5) 12-1 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Selma (Central Sec D4) 11-2 vs. Highland of Palmdale (CIFSS D9) 11-3 at Antelope Valley College – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: Sutter and Ripon also matches what we thought would happen after all of the results were in on Saturday night. Sutter had to play close by at Oakdale in an earlier year and this is a better matchup. The Huskies ended the dream season for unbeaten Paradise 21-7 in the CIF Northern Section D3 championship. Ripon also knocked off an unbeaten team, but in the case of the Indians it was upset of top seed Center of Antelope. We would have had Selma in the north and Caruthers in the south from the Central Section, but if Selma was on our north board this is about where it would have been. Highland players had video that went viral when snow fell in significant amounts in Palmdale earlier in the week. The field had to be cleared by volunteers before the CIFSS state final vs. North of Torrance.
North: Escalon (SJS D6) 12-1 at Pleasant Valley of Chico (Northern Sec D2) 7-5 – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
South: La Jolla (SD D3) 9-4 vs. Marina of Huntington Beach (CIFSS D11) 12-2 at Westminster HS – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Comment: Both Escalon and Pleasant Valley were in rematch situations in their section finals. The Cougars did beat Hilmar a second time to win their title, but the Vikings reversed as earlier loss to arch-rival Chico with a 24-3 win over the Panthers in the Northern Section D2 final. Pleasant Valley has played a tough schedule and doesn’t have a head-to-head loss to Sutter like Chico has so the CIF could have flipped the Vikings one division higher. That didn’t happen so it’ll be Escalon in this game. In the south, we have been liking the possibility of Marina playing Esperanza in an All-Orange County matchup, but the two are a couple of divisions apart in the CIFSS so that didn’t happen. La Jolla enters after a big upset win over previously unbeaten Scripps Ranch.
North: Del Norte of Crescent City (NCS D5) 12-2 at The King’s Academy of Sunnyvale (CCS D3) 10-3 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Serra of San Diego (SD D4) 11-2 at El Monte (CIFSS D12) 12-0 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: Once Del Norte won in the NCS D5 final over top seed Encinal of Alameda, the CIF knew that there would be a travel concern given Crescent City’s far northwest in the state location. There weren’t any good options so the competitive equity part of it simply has these two next on the board. Serra is a team that lost 31-14 to Santana of Santee early in the season, but in the section finals it was the Conquistadors rolling over the Sultans 37-7. El Monte is the team that was declared CIFSS D12 champion due to a double-forfeit loss in the semifinals between Adelanto and Orange Vista of Perris. Adelanto was leading 41-0, which begs the question of how a team can still be getting blown out in a playoff game but still do something to perhaps ruin the other team’s chances, too. Get into a brawl.
North: Milpitas (CCS D4) 7-6 at Caruthers (Central Sec D5) 13-1 – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
South: Reseda (LA City D1) 10-3 vs. Esperanza of Anaheim (CIFSS D13) 10-4 at Yorba Linda HS – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Comment: We had Caruthers in D6-AA in the south. Not only did the CIF put the Blue Raiders in the north in a higher division, but also put them opposite a Milpitas team that has been in the CCS Open Division and has 3,000 students. This is too high for Milpitas plain and simple. Hope Caruthers can do more than just hang in there and the fear is that if it does then the next step is to set up a small town small school team against a school with 4,000 students.
North: St. Bernard’s of Eureka (NCS D6) 10-3 vs. East Nicolaus (Northern Sec D4) 12-1 at River Valley HS – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Canoga Park (LA City D2) 12-2 at South of Torrance (CIFSS D14) 10-4 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: For the last few years of the CIF bowl games, even from the very first year when East Nic won it all in its division and St. Bernard’s made one of the longest road trips ever to Orange County, these two schools have been close to each other in numerous projections. They are finally going to play in one of these games. South of Torrance won the lowest division of the CIFSS playoffs and knocked out the only small school left in the CIFSS that had a chance to win a title when it topped St. Pius X-St. Matthias of Downey. All of the 14 CIFSS champions would be at least medium schools or large schools by the method we look at in deciding which is which.
North: Salesian of Richmond (CIFSS D7) 11-2 at Santa Cruz (CCS D5) 10-3 – Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:00 p.m.
South: Bishop Union (Central Sec D6) 12-2 – Bye
Comment: A bye had to happen somewhere on the south side of the board when Crescenta Valley informed the CIF that it wouldn’t be participating. Bishop probably would have been in the 6-A game so the choice was made to give the Broncos a bye instead of having them travel from the Eastern Sierras hundreds of miles or ask another team to make that trek. And since the D6-A state final will be in the north, Bishop can start to plan for how it will get to Santa Cruz or Richmond for the final.
North: Lincoln of San Francisco (SF AAA) 10-1 vs. Mariposa County of Mariposa (SJS D7) 8-4 at Golden Valley HS – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
South: Gardena (LA City D3) 10-4 at Francis Parker of San Diego (SD D5) 8-5 – Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Comment: Lincoln won the D6-A title at home over Orange Glen of Escondido last year so for the Mustangs to go on the road to play Mariposa isn’t surprising. At least the game will be played in Merced. Gardena won over previously unbeaten Marquez of Huntington Park 14-8 to win the LA City D3 title. Parker caught our attention recently with a 58-50 win over La Jolla Country Day and state leading passer E.J. Kreutzmann, then won its title by getting past top seed Vincent Memorial in the semis and Castle Park of Chula Vista in the final. Note that the NorCal side of the board doesn’t include Fall River of McArthur (11-2), the Northern Section D4 champion. Fall River, which played its section final at home in the snow, has opted out similar to last season.