I’m sure Ben will eventually offer his final Monday Morning Punter of the season, but I wanted to throw out my two cents on the weekend of state football.
First off, with the exception of the small school game, this was clearly the most competitive bowl weekend since it all started in 2006. Each of the last four games were extremely good football games. And even though the South went 4-1, Northern fans should gain some hope from this weekend.
Now, for some specific thoughts on a few topics:
Grant: Well, there was little surprise that by Sunday morning we had three comments here from Pacers fans asking us to eat crow. And I understand completely. Now, I will admit that I was wrong about Grant. They were extremely impressive in their 25-20 win over Long Beach Poly. I thoroughly enjoyed watching their defense, especially the play of linebacker Jordan Wallace and strong safety Howard Warren. After watching that game, the Pacers deserve to be mentioned among Northern California power programs.
CIF, Grant/De La Salle: So while I admitted to being wrong about Grant, I don’t believe I was wrong in challenging the CIF’s choice of putting them in the Open Division game — at least not by the rationale that it gave. While it all worked out, and Grant was able to make the CIF look awfully good, I still stand by my initial criticism that the Pacers did not play a stronger schedule than the De La Salle. Now that I’ve seen Grant, and know how good it is, it’s my hope that they begin playing power programs within the state. The Pacers deserve to be seen, and other programs across the state (especially Northern California) deserve the challenge — if they want it. As for the CIF, I hope it understands that it’s not completely absolved by the results of the Division I and Open games. I hope it takes some caution from the criticism it took for its decision, specifically on how it rates out-of-state opponents.
LB Poly/Centennial: After watching both teams play, I firmly believe that Centennial was the more complete team. And while much credit has to go to Grant, Poly did not impress me as much as I thought it would. For a defense so heavily praised, I thought it broke down quite a bit. It seemed they relied too much on speed and raw talent as opposed to scheme and technique. I felt the opposite about Centennial’s defense (and Grant’s, for that matter). The Huskies not only brought speed and talent, but it brought effort and – for the most part – discipline. Offensively, there was no comparison. Centennial had more weapons, and appeared to execute better. Based on that breakdown, I thought DLS’ 5-point loss to Centennial was more impressive than Poly’s 5-point loss to Grant. But I still believe Grant deserves to be ahead of the Spartans. If I had a vote for the final state rankings, this would be my top five: 1) Centennial, 2) Grant, 3) DLS, 4) Poly, 5) Cathedral Catholic-San Diego.
Lastly: I don’t want to steal all of Ben’s MMP thunder, so I’ll wrap up. In all, I thought the weekend was a very satisfying finish to another great year of California football. I’m already counting the days until September.