There will be tons of movement on both sides of our board from now until that Sunday in four weeks when the CIF announces on which teams will be playing each other in this year’s regional & state title football games. Since we now have pairings and top seeds available in most CIF sections of the state, we do have a first look at possible games to be played. The Open Division will likely pit the Mater Dei/St. John Bosco winner from the CIF Southern Section against Serra of San Mateo, but there’s another team out there in the north that has a path to that berth. We also on purpose tried not to have any of the CIFSS projected winners playing each other and were successful.
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Notes: For these bowl projections, we are using the team that is either seeded first or ranked highest in our own state rankings as the placeholder for that section’s playoff champion. After the first two divisions, the CIF and ourselves usually go by the team on the board with the highest CalPreps.com computer ranking. Travel is a consideration as well. Sending a team from San Diego, for example, to Bishop might be a bit much.
There are not any big changes in any of the CIF section playoffs this year. The CIF Central Section did use base divisions this year instead of 100 percent competitive equity seeding to determine divisions (which is what the CIF Southern Section does). That helped some smaller schools not having to be mixed together as much with large schools in higher divisions.
Speaking the of CIF Central Section, the CIF also has the option of using teams from there in the north or south. It has been three going to each region, but it can be two and four. We’ve used two and four for this first run through.
Mater Dei of Santa Ana (CIFSS D1) 10-0
vs. Serra of San Mateo (CCS D1) 9-0
Comments: The regular season is not over in the CCS, but Serra is steaming toward the No. 1 seed. The team that the Padres defeated last year in a strange section final with players and sideline reporters on the ground due to a report of gunshots, St. Francis of Mountain View, has been playing well in recent weeks. Serra already has wins over Folsom and De La Salle (Concord), but De La Salle’s struggles also have included a loss to St. Mary’s of Stockton. The Rams could certainly play Folsom in the Sac-Joaquin Section D1 final and win by a bigger margin than Serra did and they could be unbeaten as well. That would put the CIF in a spot of looking more closely at the two teams. We aren’t changing it since Serra did have to beat both Folsom and De La Salle in back-to-back weeks and on the road. Mater Dei’s spot in the south obviously would switch to St. John Bosco of Bellflower if those two meet as expected for the CIF Southern Section D1 title on November 25 at the Rose Bowl. The winner will then be a big favorite in the state final.
De La Salle of Concord (NCS D1/Open) 6-3 vs. Folsom (SJS D1) 9-1
Inglewood (CIFSS D2) 10-0 vs. Lincoln of San Diego (SD Open) 9-1
Comments: Despite its losses to Serra, Folsom and St. Mary’s (Stockton), De La Salle still hasn’t lost to another team from its CIF section since 1991 so the Spartans are going to be put into the No. 1 NCS spot until that happens. They do seem even more vulnerable (two local writers have predicted they are going to lose this week to league rival Clayton Valley), but they also still have solid wins over Cathedral Catholic and Monterey Trail. Folsom is the top seed over St. Mary’s in the Sac-Joaquin Section D1 playoffs. In the south, the CIFSS D2 bracket is again incredibly deep, but it’s not going to include a Trinity League team like Orange Lutheran this year (which won this division last year). Inglewood is our current highest ranked team, which is from a very weak league but has the talent to win it all and does have key wins over Carlsbad (from San Diego Section) and St. Bonaventure. Serra of Gardena, the D1-A state champ from last year, will be in the higher CIFSS division this year. The Cavs have a forfeit loss in a game they won on the field that prevented them from being a co-champion of the Mission League with Sierra Canyon. Lincoln is being joined in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division playoffs by Carlsbad, Madison and unbeaten Poway. Carlsbad is the top seed.
Liberty of Bakersfield (Central Sec D1) 8-2 vs. Pittsburg 8-1 (NCS D1)
West Ranch of Valencia (CIFSS D3) 10-0 vs. Cathedral Catholic of San Diego (SD D1) 6-4
Comments: The Central Section has been a mess at the top for a few weeks, but we have been ranking defending champion Liberty at the top. Clovis West of Fresno (9-1) is the top seed, but we weren’t going to put a team too high that lost 45-0 two weeks ago to Central (Fresno). One of Liberty’s two losses is to Carlsbad. Pitt went down last year and played Liberty in a NorCal bowl game after it lost to De La Salle in the NCS Open final and then won in the NCS D1 final. That format is continuing this season and keep in mind it could end up keeping De La Salle going in that same manner should the Spartans lose this time in the NCS Open final. In the south, there are a high number of 10-0 teams in the CIFSS D3 bracket. We have West Ranch highest ranked since it’s been higher ranked locally over teams like Sierra Canyon and Chaminade (although Sierra Canyon is now higher). Yorba Linda and Charter Oak of Covina are two 10-0 teams actually playing each other in a CIFSS D3 first round game. Corona del Mar (8-2 with losses to Edison and Los Alamitos) is the top seed in that bracket. For San Diego, last year’s CIF D1-AA state champs from Cathedral Catholic have a lot of losses, but we still have the Dons ranked higher than top SD Section D1 seed Mission Hills.
Manteca (SJS D2) 9-1 vs. McClymonds of Oakland (Oakland Sec) 6-1*
Cypress (CIFSS D4) 10-0 vs. Granite Hills of El Cajon (SD D2) 8-2
Comments: This spot from the north last year that was held by Central Catholic of Modesto is now listed for league rival Manteca. Both teams have moved up in the SJS, with Central Catholic now in D1 and Manteca now in D2. The Buffaloes are now starting the SJS D2 playoffs as top seed. They lost to their league rivals two weeks ago, 56-49. We think the CIF will definitely move up McClymonds from D3-A, which is where it was last year and none of the games were close. Its only loss this year was in a competitive game with Pittsburg that we saw. Cypress is not the favorite that Long Beach Poly was in CIFSS D4 last year, but if the Centurions do win out and there’s another 14-0 team on the board from the CIFSS D3 playoffs (Yorba Linda for example), we can see the CIF looking to match the two of them in this game. Granite Hills cemented its status as the No. 1 seed for the SD D2 bracket with an epic four-overtime win last week over league rival Helix.
Campolindo of Moraga (NCS D2) 9-0 vs. Wilcox of Santa Clara (CCS D2) 8-1
Central Valley Christian of Visalia (Central Sec D2) 10-0 vs. Aquinas of San Bernardino (CIFSS D5) 8-2
Comments: The CCS pairings won’t be out until Sunday and they are as complicated to project as ever. The latest has Wilcox just out of Division I and sitting in D2 due to a recent loss to Los Gatos. The Chargers were in the CIF D2-A state final last season (lost to Scripps Ranch of San Diego). Campo still has league rival Miramonte to play in its regular season finale. We looked at CVC for both north and south and thought it fit best here in the south. If this were last year, the Cavaliers probably would have been in D1 in the Central Section and probably wouldn’t have gotten through. Aquinas is our pick from the CIFSS D5 playoffs after winning the title in D7 last year and then beating Newport Harbor (the D6 winner) in a regional playoff game. Villa Park (5-5) is the top seed.
Foothill of Palo Cedro (Northern Sec D2) 8-1 vs. Marin Catholic of Kentfield (NCS D4) 9-0
San Juan Hills of SJ Capistrano (CIFSS D6) 3-7 vs. Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo (Central Sec D3) 7-3
Comments: After winning the D3-A state title last year, look for Marin Catholic to be moved up at least one division this time. They still have a league showdown to play vs San Marin of Novato, but are favored and also favored to win another section crown. We may not have shown in any of our rankings, but have been impressed with Foothill in the Northern Section. The Cougars’ big win last week over previously unbeaten Enterprise coupled with their only loss in a game at Buchanan (and a nice win over Edison of Stockton) puts them up in our view ahead of teams like El Cerrito and Placer (Auburn). San Juan Hills is 3-7 and is top seed for the CIFSS D6 playoff. Loyola of Los Angeles (5-5 but with a win last week over St. Francis of La Canada) is also in that bracket. We also have shifted Mission Prep to the south for this run through. The Royals are the top seed for the Central Section D3 playoffs. They had a stronger team last year, but were placed in D2 in their section and lost to Bakersfield in the semifinals.
El Cerrito (NCS D3) 8-0* vs. Patterson 9-1 (SJS D3)
San Pedro (LA City Open) 10-0 vs. Mayfair of Lakewood (CIFSS D7) 6-4
Comments: Yes, El Cerrito could be an unbeaten NCS D3 champion and very likely could still be behind Marin Catholic, the projected NCS D4 winner. We’d have it that way. We also have Patterson (only loss to Manteca) ranked higher than top seed Placer of Auburn (10-0) from the SJS D3 playoffs. If Placer were to win out instead, there’s very high probability that the other team the Hillmen would face in a regional game would also be 13-0. In the south, San Pedro may be unbeaten but the CIF knows to be careful putting the LA City Section top team too high. This would be the same spot that Birmingham was in last year, but its big loss in the state final to McClymonds was more about putting Mack way too low on the board than Birmingham too high. Mayfair hails from the same league as state No. 24 Warren of Downey and is top seed for the CIFSS D7 playoffs. That’s as wide open as any of the brackets in the CIFSS playoffs, however.
Vanden of Fairfield (SJS D4) 9-1 vs. Sonora (SJS D5) 8-2
Brentwood of Los Angeles (CIFSS D8) 8-2 vs. Del Norte of San Diego (SD D3) 6-4
Comments: Vanden would be dropping down from D3-AA (the division it won last year). The section division that the team is in isn’t as strong as last year and there are a lot of potential 13-0 teams on the NorCal board that also drops the Vikings down at this point. The CIF probably wouldn’t pair the two Sac-Joaquin teams against each other, but SJS D5 is far superior to the next projected divisions of section champions. We also have Sonora (with close losses to Oakdale and Antelope and with a big 31-6 win last week over previously unbeaten Summerville) higher than SJS D5 No. 1 seed Sutter (10-0). In the south, we’d also have Del Norte projected higher out of its division than No. 1 seed University City for a good reason: a 47-41 win from earlier in the season. Brentwood has gained a lot of strength as a legit small school and earned the top seed for its division with back-to-back wins over unbeaten teams Campbell Hall and Rio Hondo Prep.
CIF Central Coast Section D3 vs. San Marin of Novato (NCS D5) 8-1
Coachella Valley of Thermal (CIFSS D9) 9-1 vs. Granada Hills Charter (LA City D2) 7-2
Comments: Look for San Marin to move up after it won the D5-A state title last year. The Mustangs still have to play Marin Catholic this week to end the regular season, but win or lose look like the top seed for that NCS division. We’re not listing a team from CCS D3 since it seems quite dependent on which team wins in a 8-1 vs 8-1 matchup this week between Live Oak of Morgan Hill and Christopher of Gilroy. Regardless, it doesn’t like CCS D3 winner should be or would be higher than Vanden or Sonora. In the south, Coachella Valley is the pick to start the CIFSS D9 playoffs since it has a head-to-head win over top seed La Quinta of La Quinta. Granada Hills Charter is the top seed in the second L.A. City division and lost by just one point to defending Open Division champion Birmingham.
Summerville of Tuolomne (SJS D6) 9-1 vs. St. Vincent de Paul of Petaluma (NCS D7) 9-0
Fallbrook (SD D4) 7-3 vs. Norwalk (CIFSS D10) 9-1
Comments: Summerville just lost its first game in a showdown with Sonora, but is D6 in the SJS and therefore snagged that division’s top seed. St. Vincent de Paul has played a lot of bigger schools this season and would also have to get past St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo in a potential NCS final of unbeaten teams. The Mustangs clearly would be higher on the CIF board than the NCS D6 winner. San Diego, remember, also doesn’t have competitive equity seedings. In other words, the teams already know what divisions they’re going to be in. Fallbrook is a team that has been looking like the D4 winner there for many weeks. For the next CIFSS team, which is D10, we have continued to have any of the CIFSS projected champions playing each other. Santa Ana (6-3 with a forfeit win over Millikan) is the top seed in D10. Dana Hills (6-4) is the second seed.
Central Coast Section D4 vs. Moreau Catholic of Hayward (NCS D6) 6-3
Liberty of Madera Ranchos (Central Sec D4) 10-0 vs. Capistrano Valley Christian of SJ Capistrano (CIFSS D11) 8-1
Comments: Again, we are not listing a team from CCS D4 since it’s too hard picking a projected team to be in that spot. We used San Mateo (7-2) as an example of where a CCS D4 team might be. Moreau lost its first two games to Campolindo and San Marin and is much easier to project as top seed for its NCS division. Liberty is an unbeaten small school team from the Central Section that has been placed in a more correct division this year than Dos Palos for example last year. The Hawks and the CIF probably would prefer to put them in the north (maybe to play Summerville) for geographical reasons, but for this first run-through we did it with them in the south. Capo Valley Christian also is the top seed for that next CIFSS division.
University Prep of Redding (Northern Sec D3) 8-1 vs. Central Coast Section D5
Arroyo of El Monte (CIFSS D12) 7-3 vs. Monroe of Sepulveda (LA City D3) 8-1
Comments: We saw Uni Prep fall to Sacred Heart Prep in a NorCal final last season in D5-A. The Panthers won the Northern Section D4 title last season, but have moved up to D3 and don’t have Sutter in that position to worry about, either, with that school now in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Orland (9-0) is one to watch there, however. We again don’t know about CCS teams after the first two divisions and didn’t attempt to guess with one week to go in the regular season. We used Westmont of Campbell (8-1) as a possibility. We like Arroyo for the CIFSS D12 playoffs instead of top seed Lancaster (5-5). Arroyo started 0-3, but in its seven games since then has only given up one touchdown. Monroe of Sepulveda also is the top seed for its LA City Section playoff division.
Ripon Christian (SJS D7) 8-2 vs. East Nicolaus of Nicolaus (Northern Sec D4) 8-1
Bishop (Central Sec D5) 9-0 vs. Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (LA City D13) 7-2-1
Comments: RC’s first game was a loss to unbeaten Central Valley Christian and its league loss was to an Orestimba team that is in a higher Sac-Joaquin Section division. East Nic’s only loss is to Tahoe-Truckee of Truckee, which is still going in the Nevada state playoffs. In the south, if Bishop does win the Central Section D5 title, it will be huge travel issue for the CIF given Bishop’s location in the eastern Sierras. We have them in the south due to the 395 highway corridor. Bishop Montgomery also is the top seed for that bracket, but has a 35-35 tie with No. 3 seed Maranatha of Pasadena (9-0-1).
Fall River of McArthur (Northern Sec D5) 9-0 vs. Hanford West of Hanford (Central Sec D6) 5-5
Bolsa Grande of Garden Grove (CIFSS D14) 5-5 vs. Escondido Charter of Escondido (SD D5) 8-2
Fall River is the defending champion and because Uni Prep and East Nicolaus also both look strong in the Northern Section it doesn’t look like it would be moved up. Hanford West has a lot of losses, but so did Morro Bay coming out of that division last season. Bolsa Grande in the south has gained a lot of attention for making the playoffs for the first time since 1987 and also took a top seed for its CIFSS division. We have Escondido Charter higher than top seed Crawford of San Diego (9-1) in its division. Crawford’s only loss is to a La Jolla Country Day team that Escondido Charter defeated.
Lincoln of San Francisco (SF) 6-3 vs. Chatsworth (LA City D3) 2-8
Comment: This was the bottom game for both north and south last year and the only change we see could be to have the San Francisco team placed higher than the D6 team from the Central Section. Lincoln just won in a 49-0 blowout over Washington to improve to 5-0 in the AAA. The LA City D3 team just seems like it will be the bottom team in the south regardless.
Again, a reminder that we didn’t use any opt-outs for our projections, but there may be one or more on each side north and south.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports
Thanks for nothing Southern Section… Another wasted state bowl year for Centennial, Mission Viejo, LB Poly, Los Alamitos, etc. Should have gone with four team format. At least some of those teams could have had a shot in D2.
Also sorry for DLS/Folsom winner as they will trounce whoever they will play in the D1-AA game and i’m sure DLS or Folsom would love to play in a great matchup against one of those mentioned SS teams for a State Title which could really go either way but would be fantastic to watch.
Wake up Southern Section, you are doing no one any favors by throwing these great programs away to be Monarch punching bags.
Amen. Detracts from the value/prestige of a 1-AA state championship without one of those teams being involved.