Here’s a look at the NCS playoff picture in Division III and IV.
Qualifiers (18): Marin Catholic, Cardinal Newman, Campolindo, El Cerrito, Acalanes, Eureka, Novato, Tamalpais, Terra Linda, Analy, Petaluma, Sonoma Valley, Hercules, Bishop O’Dowd, Encinal, Tennyson, Miramonte, Kennedy-Fremont
Needs one more win (2): Alhambra, Piner
The breakdown: Miramonte won its third straight to clinch its playoff eligibility and should receive a pretty decent seed if it wins again Friday against Alhambra. But that Alhambra team will be fighting for its own playoff eligibility. Kennedy-Fremont is officially eligible after beating American and Ygnacio Valley is out after losing last week. Piner is stands a good shot to become eligible (it must beat winless Elsie Allen this week) but that doesn’t guarantee them a spot in the playoffs.
Projected field: 1. El Cerrito, 2. Marin Catholic, 3. Campolindo, 4. Cardinal Newman, 5. Analy, 6. Miramonte, 7. Novato, 8. Acalanes, 9. Bishop O’Dowd, 10. Tennyson, 11. Encinal, 12. Hercules, 13. Tamalpais, 14. Terra Linda, 15. Sonoma Valley, 16. Petaluma
It’s between Marin Catholic and El Cerrito for the top seed. EC (most likely) will be undefeated, so I think they’ll have the edge over MC, even though MC has a higher rated strength of schedule. EC also has a higher power rating on Calpreps and Maxpreps, though is ranked below MC by Cal-Hi Sports’ bowl rankings. It’s also a toss up between Campo and Cardinal Newman for No. 3, though undefeated Analy could be in the mix. There will be at least 18 qualifiers, so who will be left out? I think Piner, even if they win an qualify, could have a hard time making it. Alhambra would have to beat Miramonte to get in, so its chances of making the field are much better than Piner’s. I think Kennedy-Fremont might be out, too. The loser of Petaluma/Sonoma Valley could also be out. Terra Linda and Eureka are on shaky ground, too. Hercules might not get a great seed, but I think they are safe due to their solid record even if they lose to Kennedy-Richmond Friday and do not get an automatic bid.
Qualifiers (16): Arcata, Fortuna, Justin-Siena, San Marin, Moreau Catholic, Fort Bragg, Middletown, St. Helena, Willits, Salesian, St. Mary’s, Valley Christian, Kennedy-Richmond, Piedmont, Drake, Clear Lake
On the bubble (1): Healdsburg
The breakdown: Clear Lake gained its eligibility by beating Kelseyville last week. Healdsburg can get to 2-1 against D-IV teams with a win over El Molino in its final game. It’s not a given they’d get in though since there are already 16 qualified teams.
Projected field: 1. Salesian, 2. Valley Christian, 3. Justin-Siena, 4. Arcata, 5. Fort Bragg, 6. St. Helena, 7. Fortuna, 8. San Marin, 9. St. Mary’s, 10. Middletown, 11. Kennedy-Richmond, 12. Piedmont, 13. Moreau Catholic, 14. Willits, 15. Drake, 16. Clear Lake
This is the division I know the least about and a lot of the teams are from outside the East Bay, so my projected seeding could be way off. I imagine two-time defending champ Salesian would get the top seed if it beats Valley Christian tomorrow, otherwise VC could be at the top. A loss to a St. Mary’s team that’s not having a great year could hurt VC though. The top six teams listed all have 1-2 losses, so they’re looking solid for good seeds.