30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 11): Dissecting Division III

Ben tackled a question about NCS Division II the other day, so since I’ve watched every NCS Division III championship game the past four years, I figured I would take a look at the always entertaining division.

Division III is always a hot topic, particularly on this blog. (You can thank our strong following at Encinal for that). It’s definitely a very fun division to follow because it’s loaded with good programs and unlike in Division I, you never know who is going to take it all. We’ve had five straight years with different champions in this division and one of the cool things is that three of the schools to win it (Campolindo, Encinal and Novato) have been public schools. So this is definitely a division that’s shown good history of the public schools competing well with the private schools.

You’ve got to start looking at this division by checking out defending champion Campolindo. What a run the Cougars had last year to win the NCS title and earn the trip to Carson. I think it’s fair to say that outside of their playoff opener against Hercules, the Cougars weren’t favored in any of their playoff games. Bishop O’Dowd seems to fast and physical, Cardinal Newman too skilled and experienced, and Marin Catholic had the whole package. But Campo got it done each time, and nearly got it done in the state title game. The fact that QB Brett Stephens is back makes them a threat.

Marin Catholic, of course, should be a huge threat again. QB Jared Goff is committed to Cal and is a tremendous player. Quite frankly, he didn’t play very well in the NCS title game against Campolindo. A lot of that can be attributed to Campo’s great secondary. But I’m sure that’s a game that will eat at him and he’ll be motivated to have a great season. For those who saw Goff a week before that game when Marin played Encinal, you know how good he is.

O’Dowd also should receive great quarterback play from third-year starter Dominic Miroglio. WR/DB Kevin King  is a stud, with several offers, including from Cal. Dominic Gomes was an All-East Bay receiver last year and is very productive. The Dragons always seem like a team you expect to be there at the end and I think that could be the case this year. They could be, at minimum, a semifinalist.

Of course, Encinal has earned to right to always be in the discussion. Three straight trips to the championship game, plus last year’s semifinal appearance, do that. I think this year’s team may have more question marks than the Jets teams of the past few years, but they still should find a way to be competitive.

Cardinal Newman is another program to never count out. Coach Paul Cronin is too good a coach and considering some of the mistakes made that helped Campolindo rally for the semifinal win last year, you’d have to think the Cardinals would be a motivated team coming back.


Jimmy Durkin

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

  • HAAL Fan

    The NCS site and CALPREPS have Marin Catholic and Cardinal Newman listed as division 4 this year. Calpreps also has pre-season rankings up already when you go to sneak peak and ratings by division.
    Here is there top 10

    1. Campolindo (DFAL) 44 rating
    2. Bishop O’Dowd (WAC-Foothill) 26.1
    3. Novato (MCAL) 22.6
    4. Encinal (WAC-Foothill) 20
    5. Eureka (HDNL-Big 5) 17.5
    6. Miramonte (DFAL) 16.1
    7. Alhambra (DFAL) 12.7
    8. Del Norte (HDNL-Big 5) 12.4
    9. El Cerrito (TCL-Rock) 10.6
    10. Tamalpais (MCAL) 8.9

  • Oh Boy

    @HAAL Fan

    I believe MC and CN are division iv every year and then opt to play up to D3 for playoffs. Makes D3 a loaded and wildly competitive one. Not sure how play-in games and open divisions will affect that now

  • HAAL Fan

    Oh Boy:

    If MC and CN play up in d3 the winner will be battle tested and have a great resume for the play in/regional game. If they stay in d4 then a semi-final CN-MC, CN-Salesian or MC-Salesian would be very entertaining. and just like in the other scenario the winner would be tuff to leave out of the play in/regional game.

  • Voice of Reason

    With the outstanding graduating class at Campolindo now gone, they will certainly not be able to maintain the same level of play this fall. However, with a 9-1 & 10-0 freshman & JV record, respectively, last year, they should still be very competitive. They return most of their OL & DL and of course, they have QB Stephens coming back. The defense is where the question marks arise.

    Campo starts off the season with 3 Catholic Schools: Moreau, SPSV, & Sacred Heart (at Kezar Stadium). The Sacred Heart game will be their real first test, but the following week against El Cerrito will be just as big a test, prior to league games.

    In the DFAL, only Las Lomas & Dublin look to be able to slow down Campo. Bottom line, a 44 rating appears to be too high, but after last year’s season, who would bet against them?

  • HAAL Fan

    Campolindo being rated a 44 by calpreps seems about right. In high school football if you a strong OL/DL and a high level QB returning then your going to have a real good season. Here are the top 5s by calpreps in D1-D4

    NCS Division I
    1. De La Salle (EBAL) 73.5
    2. Freedom (BVAL) 48.1
    3. San Ramon Valley (EBAL) 42.8
    4. Logan (Independant) 38.6
    5. Pittsburgh (BVAL) 38

    NCS Divison II
    1. Concord (DVAL) 39.2
    2. Windsor (NBL) 28.9
    3. Casa Grande (NBL) 24.3
    4. Las Lomas (DFAL) 24
    5. Rancho Cotate (NBL) 21.5

    NCS Division III
    1. Campolindo (DFAL) 44
    2. Bishop O’Dowd (WAC-Foothill) 26.1
    3. Novato (MCAL) 22.6
    4. Encinal (WAC-Foothill) 20
    5. Eureka (HDNL-Big 5) 17.5

    NCS Division IV
    1. Marin Catholic (MCAL) 46.3
    2. Cardinal Newman (NBL) 40.2
    3. Salesian (TCL-Rock) 36.8
    4. Fortuna (HDNL-Big 5) 14.7
    5. St. Helena (NCL-I) 12.8

  • MiraMan

    Oh Boy & HAAL,

    MC and CN will petition up to D3 by the 9/30 deadline. If history is any indication, Salesian will stay in D4. In my opinion there is zero chance of a Salesian/MC or Salesian/CN game.

    The benefit for moving up to D3 for MC and CN (and Salesian should they choose to do it) as I understand it is that all of these teams are considered D3 from a CIF standpoint, so winning a D4 NCS championship, while you are in the CIF playoff pool, your NCS championship would not be looked upon favorably from a CIF D3 standpoint. Short answer, Salesian winning D4 will likely get overlooked for a state playoff berth while MC or CN winning D3 would likely get selected for a state playoff berth.

    Voice of Reason,

    I agree that rating Campo as a “40+” team going into the season is pretty ridiculous. They’ll be good, perhaps a “25”, but they will be a much lesser team this year… somewhere 6-4 and 8-2 regular season with a quarter- or semi-final exit in NCS. In the longer term I think their program is on the upswing. If you look across the range of sports programs you would be hard pressed to find a public school with as many great sports programs as Campo and I think that continues and includes football.

  • HAAL Fan


    Thanks for info. I didnt know that by state bowl standards MC, CN, and Salesian were division 3. I think all sections should have their divisions determined by cif. Then teams wouldnt have to make the choice of playing up or staying down. NCS Divisions 3 has a chance to be one of the most competative in the state if the big 3 d4 schools step up.

  • HAAL Fan

    Does anyone know who, when and where Hayward, Mt. Eden, Moreau, and Tennyson will scrimage?

  • Pawn Star

    Moreau is scrimaging at St. Mary’s High School on Aug 18 at 1:00 pm. Not sure if other schools will be participating. Moreau is playing Mt. Eden on at home on Sept 7 at 7:00 pm.

  • moreaufan2

    What a difference this year will be for us, can’t wait to see how we fare! Hopefully we can do well.

  • MVAL44

    Mt. Eden is scrimmaging Kennedy- Fremont at home on August 17th at 4:00pm

  • MiraFaithful

    No love for Miramonte? Sadly, I understand. Hopefully a player or two on the team reads what I have to say here and passes it along:

    You’re getting soft. No, not every player, but a lot of you are trying to live off a reputation that was earned when you were but 4 or 5 yrs old. True, the drop off hasn’t been overly extreme – you’re still making it deep into the playoffs each season – but an ever-decreasing number of dedicated players will not be able to continue carrying an ever-increasing number of players coming out just for the jerseys. When guys on the FOOTBALL team are unwilling to get BIG because they’re concerned with keeping that svelte look for the “ladies”, you know you have a problem. Newsflash to those guys who have actually gotten past the HS flirting stage: it’s almost a guarantee that your “relationships” are not going to last past freshman year of college, so stop wasting your time with something you have your whole life to work on, and start focusing on a sport most of you will never get to play ever again after you graduate.

    So buck up, go push some iron, focus in, and pave your own path this season. Please prove me wrong…

  • MiraMan

    Weird comment MiraFaithful!

    Like most of those “back in the good ole days…” comments I can’t really dispute with you because I wasn’t around Miramonte in those days. However, usually one finds the good old days weren’t as good advertised. Were these the same good old days in which we used to do steroids to get “BIG”? Were these the days when you would find some hard-luck transfer to plug holes in the lineup? Were these the good old days in which we had a 300 pound line because there were a lot of obese people walking around campus?

    However, I agree that Miramonte football had some amazing years and that it is not the elite program that it was 10-15 years ago. Frankly, I doubt it will be in the immediate future for a number of reasons including the size of school, change in transfer rules, changes in demographics and proliferation of other sports.

    Your comment about guys not working hard is weird since from what I know the team this year has more guys working hard in the offseason than past couple of years. They just don’t happen to be very big guys! I’d never heard that guys were staying slim to impress the ladies, but hey, I can think of worse reasons! I will say this, the thin guys I know are incredibly fit.

    In any case, like a bad archer you shot in the right direction but totally missed the target. Most of the kids today don’t even know or likely care about the Miramonte heros of yesteryear. They just want to play and have fun. If the sport of football and those associated with it are not providing an enjoyable experience they will move on to something else and they have the mobility to move on quickly. I would point to lacrosse as an example. Kids go out and play and have fun. They have expectations, but not because some coach tells them about some team that won NCS 15 years ago, but because they enjoy the game and their teammates. Some kids work hard in the offseason and some kid do not, but no one asks “What did you do in the offseason?” Lacrosse is growing; football is not! Playing for the fun of it. That’s probably what you did back in the good old days!

  • HAAL Fan

    Moreaufan2 & MVAL44:

    Thank you for the info about the scrimages.
    Friday Aug. 17th JFK-Fremont @Mt Eden 4pm
    Satuday Aug. 18th Moreau @St Marys 1pm, Hayward @Mt Diablo (time was not on school web page)

  • MiraFaithful


    I hope what you say about this crop’s work ethic is true! I was only speaking to the kids who can’t be mentioned in the same breath as that group because of a certain degree of apathy. Just trying to light a fire under some butts…

    That said, you did agree with my underlying premise; that the program’s prestige is starting to slack. You seem to decry “the good ole days”, and I agree that they were never as good upon reflection, but the fact remains those were the days of championship after championship – not “Welp, almost, maybe next year…”

    And if what you say is true, about most of the kids today not knowing or caring about “Miramonte heroes of yesteryear”, then that’s downright depressing. I’m well aware that it’s just HS ball, but if you’ve lost your history & tradition, you’ve lost your soul.

    Sure, football should be fun above all. But it’s a hellofa lot more fun and REWARDING when you’ve achieved something great and fashioned your own link in the chain of generations. What great programs don’t idolize and fortify their past, using each year as a stronger base from which to propel itself into the future?

    Believe me, I will always support our team, or my name isn’t MiraFaithful! The faith will always be there, all I ask in return is that it be rewarded.

    Here’s hoping for a great season!


    I totally agree with MiraFaithful in post 15: “When you lose your history and tradition, you’ve lost your soul”.

    I am witnessing this same transformation take place at another East Bay HS. This school is still “winning” games, but has lost its culture and identity. Its alumni base feels distanced and not at all welcomed.

    But those in charge have a vastly different “take”. They continually brag about how much “better” the school is today than it was before they took over.

    Unfortunately, those in charge are missing the memo about culture, history, tradition and soul.

  • MiraMan


    In terms of the current season I would say a couple of things:

    Coach Schram has done a great job of assembling a varsity coaching staff and running an off season training program. He will have the varsity prepared. A concern I have is the coaching staffs at the freshman and JV levels. I think he should look to shake things up.

    The current Miramonte football team should be a pretty good TEAM. And by that I mean that they will have pretty good players at every position and good depth, but only a couple of guys that are standouts. They will be smart and athletic, but not big and overly fast.

    Football will continue to compete more for top athletes with other sports at Miramonte than perhaps in the old days. Water pole, basketball, baseball and lacrosse take athletes from football or relegate football to 2nd-sport status. Coach Schram encourages multi-sport athletes and I support him 100% on that.

    Finally, I’m super excited about this year. We have a tough schedule, so if you’re measuring stricktly by wins and losses you may be disappointed. But I know this team will be well prepared and motivated to win. If they can get a couple of key victories it could be epic!

  • Mira, I will be watching- I have some family interest at the QB spot.

  • Patrick

    Here’s to hoping for some more good D3 playoff games. We’ve had some real classics the past few years. I would love for Newman and Marin Catholic to finally get a shot at each other. They can’t avoid each other in the playoffs forever.