30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 2): Who will win it all — in D-4 and 5?

We begin our journey of predicting who will win NCS title. This year, we’ll spend a day on each division. We didn’t do so hot with our predictions last year, as Ben and I combined to go 2 for 10 with our selections. We both correctly predicted only one NCS winner and that almost doesn’t even count because it was De La Salle in Division I. Nevertheless, we’ll take another crack at it. We’ll start with Division IV and V today and work our way up over the next three days.


Last year’s Division V field featured a 1-9 (!!!!!) Upper Lake team. No. 5 seed California School for the Deaf was the only East Bay entry as 2009 champion St. Elizabeth did not make the field. It was a tough year for the Mustangs, who also won the 2007 title, as their coaching situation was unsettled until right before the season. But Greg Morris is back and hopefully can get the Mustangs headed back to the postseason. The last time St. Elizabeth had a winless season like it did in 2010, the Mustangs rebounded to win the NCS title. That was their 2007 NCS Class B title that followed up an 0-9 season in 2006. Will that happen again? I can’t say yet.

Hoopa Valley won last year’s title with a junior at quarterback in Sonny Ryles, but the running game often rules at the smaller divisions. Defending runner up Tomales should return running back Michael Guerrero, a near 1,500-yard rusher last year. The Braves’ roster last year also listed just seven seniors. That should bode well and so I’m taking Tomales as my pick to win Division V.

In Division IV, there are a few teams we typically see in the mix, such as Salesian, St. Patrick-St. Vincent and Ferndale. Ferndale’s season gets kicked off at home against McClymonds, where it will try to avenge the loss it suffered in Oakland last year during Mack’s undefeated season. The Bruins will again be among the contenders in the BSAL, but I’m going to stick with Salesian to pull off the repeat. The Pride graduated some key players, but they have enough returning talent that I like their chances once again.


I’m not going to lie, Jimmy seems to know more than me about Division V. Can St. Liz turn it around in one year? Well, we shall see. I would also say look out for St. Vincent-Petaluma, because it seems to me that it is always in the mix come playoff time. I’ll pick Hoopa for the repeat though, as a returning quarterback is always a big deal in small-school football.

Now, for Division IV. For me, it always starts with two teams: Ferndale and Salesian. We’ve seen it nearly every year in recent memory, both of these teams lasting deep into the postseason. In 2010, it was Salesian’s turn to take the crown with an overtime win over Middletown. I expect the Pride to be good yet again, although answering the question at quarterback left by Ikaika Woolsey’s departure will be a top priority early in the season. Still, I like the explosiveness of RB Marcial Malic and the punishing line presence that Freddie Tagaloa brings on both sides. Also, if you look at the all-BFL list from last year, the Pride returns quite a bit of all-league talent.

Remember that Healdsburg was the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs last year. It lost in the semifinals to a Middletown team that gave Salesian quite the run. So, don’t count either of those schools out.

Ferndale is always there at the end, just count on it. I seem to pick them to win Division IV every year. That system, combined with the full support of the community, has this team in the mix every year.

In the end though, I gotta come back to Salesian. Chad Nightingale has built a flat-out winner, and with a bulldozer like Tagaloa in front of a talented backfield, I think the transition to a new QB will be smooth. I’m going with the Pride.

Jimmy Durkin

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

  • Football Watcher

    Ben & Jimmy-

    I think Moreau Catholic is now D-4…… if so I think they should be in hunt…. they lost to Salesian last year by less than a Touchdown.

  • Ben Enos

    Yeah, the scuttlebutt seems to be positive for Moreau. Wouldn’t surprise me to see them take a step forward, especially playing down a division now. They snuck in just under the enrollment cap (they have 889 students, the cap is 899).

  • Good point Football Watcher. Moreau should factor into the mix in Division IV. They haven’t experienced the postseason success the other teams have, so they’ll have to build on that. Moreau actually didn’t play Salesian last year though. Maybe you’re thinking of St. Mary’s, to whom they lost 26-20. I saw Moreau once in their game against Encinal and they were beaten pretty soundly, but I like what Andrew Cotter has done there.

  • Football Watcher

    Your right it was St. Mary’s…… Im getting my BSAL teams all mixed up! Ben they did just have under enough students to fall to D-4. I think this helps them in all the major sports ( football, basketball, baseball-softball) for girls and boys if they can just get into post season.

    You cant qualify for a state bowl bid if you in D-4 correct? so no matter what Salesian, St. Liz, Ferndale, Middletown, Cloverdale cant qualify……. am I right?

  • No, D-4 and 5 teams can qualify. If they have more than 500 students, they are eligible for the state Division 3 game. If they have fewer than 500 students, they qualify for the Division 4 (.ie Small School) game.


    In the D-4 division Salesian is probably the frontrunner,however,it was St Pats who beat Salesian,St Marys and Moreau last year!The key for St Pats will be replacing All-League QB and RB Danny Souza and Naji Patrick.
    Souza was recently named the MVP in the East/West football classic turned down several football offers and signed a baseball scholarship with SF State.Patrick is already working out with Oregon State.
    Coach Blanton always seems to come up with replacements.Watch for big,strong Rojas to take the snaps.
    If it comes down to Salesian and St Pats it wont be until the playoffs because there not scheduled this year during the regular season.
    Good luck to all.Im looking foward to the season getting started.

  • I heard that St. Mary’s, St. Pats both refuse to play Salesian because they opt out of playing in the BSAL. Beautiful.

  • sideliner

    Not sure if these teams refused to play Salesian but it would make sense for them to play in the BSAL.Salesians presence in the BSAL basketball and baseball certainly contributes to strengthening the league in both sports.Salesian and Ferndale are both excellent football programs but the strength of their leagues pretty much gives them an automatic playoff berth with home field.
    For these reasons it may make sense for them to stay put but I for one would like to see them in the BSAL.

  • ManDown

    Salesian will win D-4 this year if they can get production of the QB position. Losing Woolsey was a huge blow but they have a bunch of talent coming back to make another run at the crown. Is it time for the Pride to petition up the tough D-3? I think so they have nothing more to prove down there with the “Little Guys” SPSV will take a downfall this year and I don’t see them beating Salesian who IMO are tops the division. I like Ferndale. A bunch of sophomores on that team but on the flip side the line consisted of seniors. That can be a recipe for disaster on any team.

  • brandonbeard

    Hey I wanted to comment on the earlier blogs about the BSAL. Encinal is still going to be the favorite until they are knocked off, but I think they will have some tougher games than in previous seasons. with St Pats, Moreau,JFK,and St. Mary’s always finds a way to win games and make some noise. Salesians cud join that league and get a much more competitive league schedule.

  • 617lemon

    Brandonbeard encinal will beat everyone in the bsal soundly. St.pats jv wasnt much dont know who they have that can replace naji jfk has sum athletes but not enough in the trenches. Moreau will get smacked there playing at encinal i expect them to put 40+. St.mrys could get it worse saw them at bod tourney there in trouble. Will know about moreau when they play campo & dublin the way i see it theyll lose those games too

  • ManDown

    Brandonbeard, I don’t think any team in the BSAL comes close to wining a game against Encinal this year. The only team that can match up with them is JFK-Rich but there scheme isn’t going to get it done against them.

  • brandonbeard

    Okay but u can’t go off of the previous years and JFK and Moreau have the ability to get them this year. And Moreau was up on them early. SpSv always plays a decent game, at the same time Encinal is the King folklore they are knocked off. But I truly feel they will have a tougher time this year with some teams, that’s all. No need for the two off u to get all excited, just an opinion and we will see in just a few weeks what the deal is.

  • Triton8

    Who would turn down football offers to take a baseball “scholarship” at SF State??? And when did SF State start giving baseball acholarships? Just asking?

  • Salesianfb

    Coming from a Salesian player we have a lot of talent returning this year.. We have 9 returnees on defense, and Much of our offense returning also including a HUGE o-line (Freddie Tagaloa 310lbs, Sy 280lbs, chris Boyett 240lbs, kieran Higgins 215lbs and Tim Curry 280lbs) who will clear the way for returning backs Marcial Malic and Michael page, along with returning wide receivers and a returning TE also. Only strong point lost was a Quarterback, but running back is definitely not a spot to worry about even though prier is gone.

  • SPSV will reload as usual, lost some offensive firepower, but with that system they’ll throw points up on the board- should be a regular 8-9 win season, which is good enough for playoffs and beyond. Blanton averaging 9 wins a season for last 10 yrs.

  • oldcoach

    Triton..SF State started giving scholarships again I believe in 97.Same year as Davis.They joined the CCAA along with the likes of Chico,University of San Diego,Sonoma and others.Today every Div I and II conference in the country awards athletic scholarships.I know this Souza kid was a 3 sport All League guy so he must prefer baseball.I know SF’s new coach Cummins and he was excited to get him.Should be a great fit in a great DII conference.

  • brandonbeard

    Hey Anyone know who the best Tight End in the East Bay is? I will give you all a Hint: Chris Baca from Moreau Catholic. 6’5,about 230 maybe, not sure, but can run good routes and catch anything, saw him a few times last year, and this summer, and can block. Should get a nice deal after this season.

  • Triton8

    Thanks for the info Oldcoach. That would be UC San Diego, not USD. Univ. of San Diego is DI and in the league with USF, St Mary’s and Santa Clara…but I get what you were saying. It just seems a little crazy that a kid would pass on a football scholarship(if that is what was meant by “offers”?) to play baseball at SF State for a tiny partial scholarship. College baseball has no Full Rides. The best players at DI get half rides. Aid and other stuff is usually used for the balance if your good enough. I think DI only has 11 rides total. A guy in the know once told me that at Fullerton, the biggest scholarship they ever gave a player was 70%…and that was Mark Kotsay…NCAA player of the DECADE in the 80’s. That’s a school with multiple National Titles!!!

    Either way, if the kid loves baseball then who are we to question him…..good luck as a Gator….except against my UCSD Tritons!

  • Chs101214

    D1 baseball gives 11.78 scholarships divvied up to the 35 roster players. D2 gives out 9 and NAIA splits up 12. D3, of course, attracts some of their athletes with “academic” tuition assistance since there is no defined funds coming fromt the athletic dept. for tuition/room-board. It’s quite interesting how many athletes who opt for D3 schools, then end up excelling to the degree of moving on to the next level. Players know the rigors of maintaining “football” shape which always requires essentially year round weightroom work in addition to field practice, whereas other sports DO have weight room requirements, many less so. After four years of high school football and VERY dedicated practice and weight room diligence, maybe some high school stars who are dual or tri atheletes then concentrate on a single, other sport, including one they may be better at, or simply enjoy the different facets of it. Likewise, some find out later in their high school careers that their secondary sport is the one they become better at, or start to outperform their peers and then, for any number of reasons, they end up focusing more on it their last year. One of the most interesting examples was last years dLS RB who was EBAL MVP…and ends up at Berkeley playing club rugby for Jack Clark. Guessing there was some tuition/admission assistance involved, which is a considerable factor for many families and so: 1) Great school=better resume. 2)Tuition assistance countered any football offers. 3)Location closer to home than maybe better football offers, and 4) 27 National Championships! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?