Well, we’ve finally hit question No. 30 in our 30 Questions to Kickoff feature. Our high school football preview edition hits the newstands and your doorsteps tomorrow, so we will wrap up our countdown today by looking into the crystal ball.
Who will win North Coast Section titles in each division?
Division I: Hmmmmm……..let me think long and hard about this one. OK, I’m done thinking. It’s De La Salle. Moving on.
Division II: This has been pretty well dominated by the Redwood Empire since the regions were merged for postseason play. Defending champion Eureka was pretty dominant on its way to last year’s title and appear to have a fair amount of returners from that team, even if they lost dominant RB Soma Vainuku. But the Loggers are now listed as a Division III school unless they decide to petition up by the Sept. 17 deadline. I think some East Bay teams such as Alameda, Concord and Pinole Valley could work there way into the title mix as well. But I’m going to go with a team that reached the Division I semifinals last year in Washington. The Huskies, who were the No. 11 seed in D-1 and upset No. 6 Cal and then beat No. 14 College Park, have dropped down to Division II. With the dynamic Deandre Carter leading the way, the Huskies have a shot to break through into a title contender and become only the second team from the MVAL to ever win an NCS football title. (Most will be shocked to learn that Mission San Jose is the only school in the league to win an NCS title, doing so in 1977).
Division III: A lot here depends on what Marin Catholic does. As of now, the Wildcats are penciled in as a Division IV school, although they have until Sept. 17 to petition up. Whichever division the Wildcats are in, they will be a contender. If Eureka stays in Division III, they are definitely among the favorites. You certainly can’t count out Encinal, which has been to the past two title games. The Jets will have to answer some questions at QB early on, so for now I will pick Eureka to win Division III (presuming they stay there).
Division IV: Again, this division is tough to predict until we find out what Marin Catholic does. If Marin is Division IV, they are my pick to win it. If not, maybe a team like Salesian or St. Patrick-St. Vincent can contend or another team from the Redwood Empire such as defending champion Fort Bragg or Justin-Siena. Valley Christian is listed as Division V, but could petition up to Division IV where it played last year and also be a contender. Right now, there’s really too many unknows to pick this division but I’ll go with St. Patrick-St. Vincent to ride RB Naji Patrick to a title provided Marin goes up to D-3.
Division V: This is another division that I’ll have to see about petitioning up to decide officially. If Valley Christian stays in Division V, I’d pick them to win. If the Vikings go to Division IV, I’ll go with St. Vincent, which has been to three straight title games and lost last year to St. Elizabeth.
Division I: I also spent a couple seconds thinking about this one… Uh huh, sure. I’ll take DLS.
Division II: I really like Jimmy’s pick of Washington. Now in Division II, the Huskies might have the best game-changing player in Deandre Carter. But, I’m going to stay with the North Bay theme that we’ve seen the last couple years. I just can’t pick against a team with a blue-chip QB, and that team is Casa Grande. The Gauchos have been knocking on the doorstep the last couple years, and I think this is the year Nick Sherry and Co. take the next step.
Division III: Jimmy’s right that a lot depends on what Marin Catholic does because even with the losses from last year’s team, the Wildcats are going to be contenders no matter what. That said, I also agree that you can’t count out Eureka, and you can’t count out Encinal. Also, Alhambra could be in the mix one year after reaching the semis. And then there’s also Novato, a team that’s always in the conversation at season’s end. I’m going to take a flier though with my pick, and I’m going to say Miramonte wins the whole thing. In the years where the Matadors are good, they almost always put their hat in the ring.
Division IV: I’m with Jimmy all the way here. Marin Catholic is the choice if it stays in Division IV, but if not, why not the Bruins of SPSV? I’m never going to count out Salesian, especially with Aaron Prier back in the fold to run the ball. And don’t forget Ferndale, which is always there. But, I have a good feeling about Marlon Blanton’s crew this year, so I’ll pick the Bruins.
Division V: Common sense says Valley Christian is the pick if it stays in Division V. Other than that, it’s a coin flip I guess. St. Vincent sounds as good as anyone, so I’ll take them.
Alright everyone, we hope you enjoyed our month-long look at local high school football. Like Jimmy said, tomorrow is the day our big preview section comes out. Be sure to grab yourself a copy. Join us this afternoon for our live chat, and we’ll see you on the sidelines!