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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 27): Bowling for titles

Today, I take a broader look at the Northern California prospects for the California Interscholastic Federation bowl series.

First off, if you want some quality statewide knowledge, check out the Cal-Hi Sports preseason Top 50. Mark, Harold, Paul and Ronnie do an awesome job. It’s a quality read.

Last year was a banner year for Northern California when it came to success in Carson. That discounts, of course, the pair of shoes I sacrificed to the Home Depot Center quagmire. Four of the five Northern reps brought home a title, headlined by De La Salle’s romp over Servite in the Open Division game.

So, what teams could find their way south this time around? Of course, it starts with the Spartans. If they run the table, there won’t be an argument as to the strength of their schedule thanks to their cross-country trip to Florida. But, I think the case still exists that even without a win in that game, if they win all their Northern California contests, they’re still the big favorite to reach the Open game. Tough games right off the bat against Bellarmine and St. Mary’s-Stockton loom, so even without a win at Aquinas, I think DLS is still a good bet to get to the Open game.

So, what teams could challenge for that spot? I really think Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove is the team to beat. The Eagles almost got there last year (they qualified but Palo Alto was selected), and return key players like DE Arik Armstead and RB Mark Jenkins. An Oct. 28 showdown with defending D-II champ Folsom could be high noon for Pleasant Grove.

We can’t forget Grant, led by ATH Shaq Thompson and QB Terry Shine. The Pacers lose some key pieces from 2010, but does anyone really think Coach Al won’t have them hungry again this year? I expect Grant to be good and in the conversation again.

I’ll be interested to see aforementioned Folsom, after last year’s team was so dang good. Even though we had some local guys up for the award, I completely agreed with the selection of Dano Graves as last year’s California Mr. Football. That kid did it all. What I think helps the Bulldogs this year is that Tanner Trosin, who replaces Graves at QB, saw a little time last year. I think he’ll be ready to keep that ball rolling. Also, local fans get to see Folsom as it has games against SRV (@ DVC) and Deer Valley this year.

There are some other teams that bear watching this year, like Granite Bay and Lincoln-Stockton. Lincoln and St. Mary’s battle for 209 area code bragging rights on Sept. 23. Del Oro is always good. In general, I think Sacramento-area football is still riding the upswing that it has of late. Really good quality.

Of course, if you’re talking bowls, you always have to respect the winner of the West Catholic Athletic League. Bellarmine and Valley Christian have gotten most of the pre-season buzz, and we’ll find out just how good the Bells are on Sept. 2 when they visit Owen Owens Field to take on the Spartans.

And, don’t forget about Palo Alto, last year’s Division I winner. Christoph Bono is gone, but the cupboard is far from bare. Paly will be in the mix again.

When it comes to the smaller divisions, I really think Cardinal Newman gets back to Carson this year. The Cardinals just have so much coming back. I’d have to flip a coin in the small-school division, so if anyone wants to drop some knowledge there, be my guest. The takeaway, at least to start the year, is that last year’s showing by NorCal probably isn’t a fluke.

Ben Enos

  • HAAL c/o2000

    instead of just erollment size the state title games should be public school and private school just like in New Jersey

  • nfl

    all private schools should have to play d1 they dont play by the same rules publics do in ncs.

  • Joe

    Jersey has roughly 1/18th the physical space of Ca. So that’s not realistic. Factor in that NCS has only two private schools larger than 900 kids (and a small number that are REALLY athletics driven) and that plan, while mostly the result of pettiness, is still full of holes. How about you just call Encinal and Cal the “Public section champions”? It really delivers the same hollow glory as throwing out the private schools.

    And why would you want to copy a state with 20 difference state champions?

  • junior

    Looks like a new batch of public school wussies.

  • Oh boy

    I hate to agree with the usual DLS homers but in this case Joe is correct.

    I can never understand why people want to lump all privates together. College Prep, Bentley, St Elizabeth and St. Mary’s don’t belong with DLS and WCAL. Valley Christian and Berean Christian are privates and they wouldn’t stand a chance in an all privates section.

  • http://aol big joe

    Your right, the privates don’t play by the same rules-just the correct rules. Players required to keep their grades up. Parents involved with the program.
    Extra work during the off season. Weight room and conditioning. I guess that’s called an advantage.Wow!
    If the publics want seperate leagues, there could be a new CAL. St. Mary’s, Salesian, Moreau, O’Dowd, St. Liz, St. Patrick’s. De La Salle goes quasi independant, as the WCAL doesn’t want them. The Christian acadamies could group together in the Bay Area as a seperate league with a couple of very small publics.

  • David

    [Sarcasm]I, too, think public/private schools should be seperated and we shouldn’t declare winners/losers or keep scores. I also think that everyone that participates should earn a participation trophy. We wouldn’t want to hurt ANYone’s feelings after all.[/Sarcasm]

  • norcalfball

    i agree with most of you..you can’t have private separate leagues it just doesn’t work in NCS, because of the lack of quality private schools…DLS is already head and shoulders above everyone else, match them against just privates they might as well go independent again then..

    my argument is let DLS play in the EBAL it is the most competitve league for them…

    but after that…everyone should head to a state playoff system regionally. NCS would be included with CCS, San francisco, OAL, etc…at this point private schools would be lumped together and public schools would be…public’s would have divisions 1-5…privates probably not quite that many probably jsut a large medium and small and geographically might cover a larger area…then the winners of here go on to play vs another region and so on until we get the the last 2 teams standing in each division in each sector…

    think of the first round matchups we would see…other states who sorry are much much further along in high school football formats than we are can do it, then why can’t we. yes california is large and spread out, but so is texas…yes california has lots of schools, so does texas…

    play 9 games instead of 10 or take away the bye week…and let’s go…you DLS supporters can’t honestly be happy winning NCS every year winning every game by 40+ points…playing teams like american in the 1st round…playoffs should be reserved for the best and should be competitive throughout…how about DLS opening up vs a WCAL 1st round game..now that is somewhat intriguing…