NCS Division III playoff breakdown

Division III projections got a lot tougher after a few surprises over the weekend. Here’s my latest breakdown, although things are definitely subject to some shifting and this appears to be the division in which the committee will have to make the toughest decisions.

Three new teams (Campolindo, Miramonte and a big surprise in Sonoma Valley) clinched eligbility this week to get us up to 17 teams that are eligible. Bishop O’Dowd, Del Norte and Hercules could clinch eligibility this week with wins.

The updated list of teams that have clinched eligibility: Acalanes, Alhambra, Analy, Campolindo, El Cerrito, Encinal, Fortuna, Healdsburg, Kennedy-Fremont, Marin Catholic, Miramonte, Moreau Catholic, Novato, Piedmont, Sonoma Valley, Tamalpais, Terra Linda.

ACALANES 5-5, 4-2 DFAL, 2-3 in Div. III — Lost to Campo to close reg. season
ALHAMBRA 8-1, 5-0 DFAL, 4-0 in Div. III — A top four seed
CAMPOLINDO 5-4, 3-2 DFAL, 3-3 Div. III — Huge win over Acalanes, so they are eligible and will make the field.
EL CERRITO 6-3, 4-1 ACCAL, 2-1 Div. III — Will beat Hercules in Week 10 to finish 7-3
ENCINAL 8-1, 6-0 BSAL, 4-0 Div. III — Will beat Moreau in Week 10 to finish 9-1
FORTUNA 7-2, 4-1 HDNL-Big 4, 6-0 Div. III — Wins aren’t very strong, but good chance they go 8-2
HEALDSBURG 6-3, 3-1 SCL, 4-1 Div. III — Have wins over Acalanes and Analy, should lose next week to Petaluma and finish 6-4
MARIN CATHOLIC 8-1, 6-0 MCAL, 4-0 Div. III — Going to be a league champion and probable No. 2 seed
NOVATO 6-3, 5-1 MCAL, 3-1 Div. III — Probably looking like the No. 4 seed and a possible semifinal rematch of last year’s title game with Encinal
PIEDMONT 6-3, 4-2 BSAL, 5-1 Div. III — Showdown with SPSV in Week 10 could propel them to a higher seed with a win
TAMALPAIS 7-2, 4-2 MCAL, 4-1 Div. III — Will lose to Marin Catholic this week, so one-point win over Terra Linda was huge.

Each of those 11 teams is eligible and will finish with at worst a .500 record overall. There’s only one team that fits into that category that I don’t list as a lock and that’s Analy, due to its loss to Sonoma Valley over the weekend. That’s because Analy could end up 5-5 and Sonoma 4-6 and I could see Sonoma getting the call in that situation with the head to head win.
Now for the final five spots….

There are nine teams competing for the final five spots, six of which are currently eligible and the final three can become eligible with a win this week. Hercules is a new addition here after I took a second look through things to find they are now 2-2 within Division III.

Here are the nine teams competing:

ANALY 5-4, 1-4 SCL, 3-2 Div. III
BISHOP O’DOWD 3-5-1, 3-3 HAAL, 0 games against Div. III
HERCULES 3-6, 1-4 ACCAL, 2-2 Div. III
KENNEDY – FREMONT 4-5, 2-3 MVAL, 2-1 Div. III
MIRAMONTE 4-5, 2-3 DFAL, 3-1 Div. III
TERRA LINDA 4-5, 2-3 MCAL, 4-3 Div. III
SONOMA VALLEY 4-6, 2-4 SCL, 3-2 Div. III
DEL NORTE 2-6, 1-4 HDNL-Big 4, 1-2 Div. III

The first thing I will do is knock out Del Norte. They need to beat Arcata this week to be eligible, but we’d be talking about a 3-6 team who would have two wins over a winless Arcata team and the other win over a 3-6 team from Oregon. That isn’t going to cut it. (While we’re mentioning Del Norte, can anybody tell me why Amador Valley is playing a non-playoff Division III team?) I will also knock out Hercules because they will lose to El Cerrito this week and no longer be eligible.

Also, for the purposes of trying to predict things, I’m going to assume O’Dowd becomes eligible by beating Arroyo this week. This doesn’t mean I think this is a lock to happen. In fact, I might even consider them an underdog in that game. But for these purposes, it’s easier to assume they win and become eligible and if they don’t, we can easily eliminate them and call up the next team.

Alright, so now we’re trying to pick the five teams out of these seven that are most worthy. Here’s who I think will get in, alphabetically.

ANALY — The Tigers lost to Sonoma Valley last week in a game that throws the biggest monkey wrench into predicting this field. It would’ve given Analy a sixth win and a chance to win a seventh against Windsor this week (which they will be underdogs in) and, most importantly, it would’ve knocked Sonoma Valley out of contention. While Sonoma Valley will have an argument to get in ahead of Analy, I don’t think the commitee would keep a 5-5 team out when several 4-6 teams will be getting in. Plus, Analy has a win over Terra Linda, which beat Sonoma Valley, so that could help carry Analy in.
BISHOP O’DOWD — Every game is played against higher division teams and yet they still achieved eligibility. This is a down O’Dowd team and they’ll probably be one and done, but O’Dowd makes it in if they beat Arroyo on Saturday.
KENNEDY-FREMONT — In a similar position to O’Dowd of playing mostly higher division teams, although they did play three Division III teams in nonleague. The MVAL is typically lauded for its strength  in this meeting because its all Division I schools except for Kennedy and that will carry the Titans into the postseason despite that loss to American last week.
MIRAMONTE — The Matadors play a fairly tough schedule and own a win over a Campolindo team that will make this field, thanks to its win over Acalanes. That Campo win alone is enough to get Miramonte in.

That leaves us with Moreau Catholic, Terra Linda and Sonoma Valley competing for the final playoff spot. Moreau plays Encinal this week, so we can lock in a 4-6 record for them. Terra Linda plays Justin-Siena, which could be a tough game for them, so they could finish at either 4-6 or 5-5. Sonoma Valley is already done with a 4-6 record.

If Terra Linda beats Justin-Siena this week to finish 5-5, I think they get in, end of discussion. However, if they lose and each of these teams is 4-6, what would happen? I think the first team to get eliminated is Sonoma Valley, based on its loss to Terra Linda. Sonoma could undoubtedly point to the fact that it beat Analy, which in turn beat Terra Linda, but I think by the time the committee is discussing this, Analy will already have made the field and they will primarily be deciphering between Terra Linda and Sonoma Valley and use that head-to-head game to make the decision.

Now, how do we separate between Moreau Catholic and Terra Linda. Moreau’s four wins are against teams with losing records, including a Kennedy team that eventually cancelled its season. The Mariners were blown out against St. Mary’s, Piedmont and St. Patrick-St. Vincent (and likely will be blown out against Encinal). Their best game is probably a 5-point loss to a 6-3 San Lorenzo team.

Terra Linda, on the other hand, had the benefit of not having to face the two best teams in its own league. It has only faced two teams all year that possess a winning record (Analy and Tamalpais), although it did just go to the wire in a one-point loss Saturday to Tamalpais, a 7-2 team that’s a lock to make this field. Moreau, by comparision, will have played six teams that will finish with an above .500 record. All of those games will be losses, but at least they don’t have losses to 2-7 teams like Terra Linda does to Redwood and San Marin.

In the end, I think the fact that Moreau has played a tougher schedule than Terra Linda should carry some weight and give the Mariners the final playoff berth. That leaves Terra Linda rooting against O’Dowd this week so there is one more spot available, which would likely go to them.

And so, here are my 16 projected playoff teams, alphabetically.

Acalanes, Alhambra, Analy, Bishop O’Dowd, Campolindo, El Cerrito, Encinal, Fortuna, Healdsburg, Kennedy, Marin Catholic, Miramonte, Moreau Catholic, Novato, Piedmont, Tamalpais.

Now, my revised seedings:

1. Encinal (8-1)
2. Marin Catholic (8-1)
3. Alhambra (8-1)
4. Novato  (6-3)
5. El Cerrito (6-3)
6. Tamalpais (7-2)
7. Piedmont (6-3)
8. Healdsburg (6-3)
9. Fortuna (7-2)
10. Acalanes (5-5) — Might’ve moved up to 7 with a win over Campo, right now have to hope their close game with Alhambra carries weight
11. Campolindo (5-4) — I know they beat Acalanes, but they also were blown out by Miramonte
12. Bishop O’Dowd (3-5-1) — Might be too high, but the bottom of this bracket really doesn’t wow you
13. Miramonte (4-5)
14. Kennedy-Fremont (4-5)
15. Analy (5-4)
16. Moreau Catholic (4-5)

There you go. Things should be clearer after we see what O’Dowd does, but regardless there are going to be some tough decisions for the final spots.

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    Without Amador’s knowledge, Liberty dropped the Dons from the schedule last year. It wasn’t until a few weeks before the season when Sira found out. He had a few weeks to scramble for a game and Del Norte turned out to be the only option. The two-year contract ended this year.

  • Gotcha Kyle. Suprised that they signed up for a two-year deal though.

  • HS Football Fan

    You do such a thorough job its hard not to agree with everything you predict. Although in the jungle of all those 4-6 teams I think even a 5-5 Analy is as close to a lock as they could get.

  • highlanderpride

    Jimmy, what’s your prediction for the O’Dowd game saturday?

    Im looking for 3 BSAL teams in DIII playoffs!

    didn’t people think we were a weak league?

  • shutdowndb

    the bsal is a weak league… encinal is a great team, but everyone else in that league is weak. the only other decent team is piedmont, but they have to resort to the a-11 to win games. a-ll isnt real football. if they ran a normal offense, you’re looking at a 5-5 season at best.. they would have no run game, and their o-line would be average at best… i mean think about it, if you’re defending the a-ll, and you bring a 3 man rush and drop everyone into coverage, the qb has all day to throw the ball and eventually someone gets open.. if you blitz the qb and have everyone is locked up in man, all he has to do is tuck the ball and run and its an automatic ten yard gain… the defense is so spread out and the qb can dump the ball off to 7 different players. its not football

  • Highlanderpride,
    I’m expecting that one to go down to the wire, much like their game with Castro Valley did. I know Arroyo always gets up for that game with BOD so I have this strange inkling that Arroyo will pull it off, maybe 21-20 (O’Dowd always seems to have games decided by a two-pt conversion at the end).

    As for the BSAL as a league, St. Mary’s is a pretty good team as well Shutdowndb. And St. Pat’s has been a solid program for a long time. Also, regarding Piedmont, remember that they made the playoffs the two years prior to installing the A-11 offense. The year prior, in 2006, they lost just 13-6 to a Miramonte team that eventually made the 2A finals. So I think their success has been and still would be pretty comparable with or without the A-11.

    If you want to compare the BSAL to other leagues in this area — leagues that have Div. I or II teams — it’s not going to stack up as highly. But when speaking of Div. III and IV leagues, it’s very strong, among the strongest in the section, especially with Moreau improving. If only Kennedy could’ve carried over its success from last year, it’d be even stronger.

  • highlanderpride

    haven’t they said that for every new offense in football? they used to think the spread was completely unfair, as well as the run n’ shoot. Heck, they even said that for the forward pass when that was first introduced. Takes a few years, but defenses will be built to stop it eventually.

  • EastBayJ

    Shutdowndb, your logic and reasoning is exactly why piedmont invented the a-11 and exactly why it works for them. You make zero sense at all and manage to make your own reasoning against it look very good in terms of why piedmont is successful even though the rules got changed to try and kill the a-11, piedmont adjusted with it and keeps winning…now what do you want the football lords to do?

    Ban the spread offense and the shotgun and the forward pass?

    If you don’t think a-11 is real football, you are sadly mistaken, and given your reasoning, at what point does real football end and not real football begin?

    Ridiculous statement you made above.

  • shutdowndb you’re not too smart are you? You just made a total case for why the offense should be ran. I can understand you saying that when there were issues with eligible numbers. Maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events. The offense now follows regular number rules.

  • If you did know that & still let that offense fool you meaning your “shutdown DBs” guarding WRs with linemen numbers, then you deserve to get laughed at by Bryan.

  • EastBayJ

    If they win and Siena beats Terra Linda, I would rank Piedmont ahead of Tamalpais based on the records of team’s they lost to (26-4) vs. (20-9), in favor of Piedmont.

    I would definitely put JFK Fremont ahead of O’Dowd based on the same criteria and strength of schedule very much in favor of Kennedy Fremont.

    Fortuna and Healsburg is a toss up?

    El Cerrito has got the attention of several division three coaches very much aware of their win over Alameda. Watch out for EC

  • TB

    Strength of schedule is probably on Kennedy’s side over O’Dowd but not far and away. I haven’t seen Kennedy this year but it seems as though they haven’t been able to compete at all with the best teams on its schedule based on the scores. They haven’t had a close game vs a playoff team besides American and we have to see about this weekend vs Logan. Lost by 48 to Washington, 23 to Newark, and 19 to Heritage. BOD did get killed by SI but they are a very good despite being 4-5. They beat Marin and play tough games all season long in the WCAL. They lost to SL by 15 but still played them tough, were in the game for most of the time, and put up 43 (the most SL has given up all year). Also, played a solid Hayward very tough in a 2 point loss. I can’t remember if NCS seeding takes into account the scores of games or if they just look at wins and losses.

  • HS Football Fan

    There might only be 9 teams with winning records in the playoffs. If that happens and if you lump all of the non-winning teams into the same category and really look at them, I’m not sure I see the same teams qualifying. Here they are with what I see as the likely outcomes this weekend.

    Acalanes (5-5)

    Argument for: Runner-up in DFAL.
    Argument against: Lost home game with a chance to clinch a winning record.
    Best win: Las Lomas?
    Worst loss: Campolindo or Aptos

    Analy (5-5)

    Argument for: .500 record is better than teams below .500
    Argument against: Finished next to last in Sonoma County League. Didn’t beat a team with a winning record.
    Best win: Terra Linda
    Worst loss: Sonoma Valley

    Bishop O’Dowd (4-5-1)

    Argument for: Plays larger schools? (seems like a weak argument to me).
    Argument against: Didn’t play a single Division III school. Didn’t beat a team with a winning record.
    Best win: Arroyo
    Worst loss: Skyline

    Campolindo (5-5)

    Argument for: .500 record is better than teams below .500
    Argument against: Didn’t beat a team with a winning record.
    Best win: Acalanes
    Worst loss: Oakland

    Del Norte (3-6)

    Argument for: Every loss will be to a team with 7 or more wins.
    Argument against: Only qualified by beating winless Arcata twice.
    Best win: Hidden Valley (Oregon)
    Worst loss: Fortuna

    Kennedy (4-6)

    Argument for: Plays in a league with larger schools.
    Argument against: Only eligible because of a win over winless DeAnza. All wins came over teams with a total of five wins all season.
    Best win: Balboa (SF)?
    Worst loss: Dougherty Valley

    Miramonte (4-6)

    Argument for: Played challenging schedule – went to Washington for a road game.
    Argument against: Didn’t beat a team with a winning record. Will finish 1 or 2 games out of the cellar in the DFAL.
    Best win: Antioch
    Worst loss: Dublin

    Moreau Catholic (4-6)

    Argument for: Every loss to a playoff team or league co-champion (all with winning records). No losses to teams with losing records.
    Argument against: Didn’t beat a team with a winning record.
    Best win: John Swett
    Worst loss: San Lorenzo?

    Sonoma Valley (4-6)

    Argument for: wins over two playoff eligible teams. Should get in ahead of Analy based on head-to-head.
    Argument against: Didn’t beat a team with a winning record.
    Best win: Analy
    Worst loss: Terra Linda

    Terra Linda (4-6)

    Argument for: Played Tamalpais tough?
    Argument against: Will finish at least 6th in Marin County league despite not playing either Marin Catholic or Novato. Likely finishes playing only one team above .500 all season. Didn’t beat a team with a winning record.
    Best win: Sonoma Valley
    Worst loss: San Marin

    Only 7 of these 10 teams will get playoff bids. Based on each of those arguments, I’d first have to say that Acalanes and Campolindo are in (league runner-up and the team that beat them). That then makes the argument that Miramonte should also be in since they beat Campo, though I don’t personally think the DFAL is strong enough to warrant 1/4 of all of the D-III bids. To me, the next bid goes to Moreau Catholic. Six games against playoff teams and no losses to losing teams. Those all seem like much easier choices to make. The last 3 are tougher. I guess O’Dowd would come next, since that tie against Alameda was largely due to breaking in a new kicker, and they did play a tough schedule. I guess I’d go with Kennedy next, since they played a tough schedule, but really, the ONLY reason they’re qualified is that win over DeAnza. Seems like you’re rewarding them for creative scheduling. The last bid, in my mind, comes down to Del Norte and Analy. Analy has the better record, but more than half their games were against teams with losing records, so .500 is nothing special. Del Norte played Ferndale (likely #1 seed in D-IV), Amador Valley and two times each against Eureka and Fortuna. But, just because you played them, if you don’t win one of them, is it that impressive? I’d have to argue that that final spot goes to Analy. So my first round would be:

    #16 Analy at #1 Encinal
    #15 Kennedy at #2 Marin Catholic
    #14 Bishop O’Dowd at #3 Alhambra
    #13 Moreau Catholic at #4 Novato
    #12 Miramonte at #5 Tamalpais
    #11 Campolindo at #6 Fortuna
    #10 Acalanes at #7 El Cerrito
    #9 Healdsburg at #8 Piedmont

  • KillerD

    The breakdown you did HS Football Fan is interesting.

    Of your matchups I would like to watch:

    Bishop ODowd at Alhambra

    Healdsburg at Piedmont

    Campolindo at Fortuna

  • Black

    Bishop O Dowd is not gonna make the playoffs. They will lose to Arroyo and have a losing overall record, a losing league record and they didnt play anyone in their division.

  • bod

    why arn’t we making the playoffs?
    why you so sure of the dons?

  • I just wanna

    I would love for us to play Bishop O Dowd. Moreau Catholic against O’ Dowd thatd be the shit

  • I Just Wanna,

    I totally agree. O’Dowd vs. Moreau should be a natural rivalry! What wouldn’t be fun about watching Moreau beat O’Dowd every year!

  • I just wanna

    I don’t know why leagues are classified by school size, moreau has rivals that we can’t play. LEagues should be formed by coaches, then the games would be much more competitive what’s so fun about watching the best team play the worst? why not just even it out a bit!


    I Just Wanna — really??

  • TB

    BOD MCHS would be a rivalry if Moreau could compete. I’m not sure Moreau could beat O’Dowd this year with one of their best teams recently and BODs worst in a long while, let alone on a consistent basis.

  • get ’em

    BOD in. 20-17 over Arroyo. 40 yd TD pass with 1 min left to win.

  • get ’em

    BOD 20 Arroyo 17. 40 yard TD pass from with a minute left to win it.

  • Head in the Sand

    O’Dowd plain and simple is overrated. They did not beat anyone with a winning record. It is too bad Perenon does not have to show up at a NCS meeting to give a 2 minute presentation on why his team deserves to be in. He probably would be too embarassed to show up. He is a horrible coach.

  • get ’em

    dont think anyone is overrating o’dowd no one thinks there any good haha

  • get ’em