Champions have been crowned in the Northern, Oakland and San Francisco Sections, but the rest of the state is still two weeks away from handing out the championship plaques. Nevertheless, the playoff bowl picture continues to come into focus. Here’s a look at how the divisions shape up after last week’s round of playoff games.
Southern California Division I
The Pac-5 champion remains the best candidate for the Division I SoCal berth, with both Mission Viejo and Edison of Huntington Beach still in the hunt. Lakewood, with only one loss, looms as a candidate, especially if it can knock off Edison this week. The bad news is that both Edison and Mission Viejo won’t be playing in the bowl games even though both appear to be deserving. Only one will qualify, assuming Mission Viejo can knock off Servite this week and move into the championship game.
Should Servite come through and win the Pac-5, then the Inland Valley champion could be the Division I pick. Incumbent Centennial and favored Vista Murrieta are on a collision course in that division, although Chaparral and Norco, their opponents in this week’s semifinals, will have a say.
The San Diego Section remains a possibility, with Oceanside and La Costa Canyon both holding the highest ranking, according to CalPreps, should they win their respective divisions. Oceanside is in Division II in the San Diego Section while La Costa Canyon is Division I.
Best bet: Edison
Northern California Division I
The selection committee could have a difficult decision to make if Grant, De La Salle and Bellarmine all qualify. Bellarmine seems like the odd team out (the Bells need to first defeat St. Francis this week in the Open Division finals) due to their loss to St. Mary’s and tie with Mitty. Grant could end up undefeated coming out of a section division that included St. Mary’s. De La Salle could win its 18th straight section title with the only losses coming against nationally ranked foes Don Bosco Prep and Lakeland.
Our guess is that De La Salle gets the Division I bid and Grant gets the chance to defend its crown in the Open Division.
Best bet: De La Salle
Southern California Division II
The key here is the Pac-5 Division. If Servite comes through with a section title, the committee will be hard-pressed to overlook the Friars. However, Servite will have to get past Mission Viejo this week and either Edison or Lakewood next week in order to qualify. Crenshaw is in much better position at this point. The Cougars have barely been challenged in the L.A. City playoffs, but should get a competitive game from Dorsey this week.
Best bet: Crenshaw
Northern California Division II
Key game this week is the Grant-Rocklin game on Saturday in Folsom. If Grant wins, it knocks off the best candidate from the Sac-Joaquin Section for the Division II bid. Del Oro would also be in the mix, but the Golden Eagles need to beat a talented Folsom team.
If both Folsom and Grant win, they do not qualify for the Division II playoffs because they are both Division I teams at the state level even though they are Division II teams for the Sac-Joaquin playoffs.
With Bellarmine favored to beat St. Francis in the Open Division of the Central Section playoffs, look for the winner of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs to advance to the Division II bowl for Northern California. The winner of this weekend’s Oakdale-Inderkum should take the upper hand, assuming Rocklin loses to Grant.
Best bet: Inderkum
Southern California Division III
Oaks Christian continues to be the best candidate here, and the Lions look like the odds-on favorite to win the Northwest Division. As we mentioned last week, the only question will be if the Lions are considered as a candidate for the Open Division. If that happens, look for St. Bonaventure to gain the Division III berth.
Best bet: Oaks Christian
Northern California Division III
If Central Catholic gets past Modesto Christian and then holds off either Sonora or Placer, then the Raiders figure to get the nod. If Central Catholic loses any of those games, however, look for undefeated Carmel, the favorite to win the Division IV title in the Central Coast Section, to get the bid.
Southern California Small Schools
As long as Parker continues to win in the San Diego Section and St. Margaret’s wins in the Southern Section, then Parker will be the Small Schools representative from Southern California based on its win over St. Margaret’s.
Best bet: Parker
Northern California Small Schools
The key game this week pits Modesto Christian vs. Central Catholic in Modesto. If Central Catholic wins, that eliminates Modesto Christian from contention. If the Crusaders win, they would still need to win next week against the other Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal winner in order to qualify. That could be a tall order.
With Ferndale losing last week, several teams have moved into the Small Schools hunt behind Modesto Christian. They include Valley Christian of Dublin and Capital Christian of Sacramento. Both teams have at least three losses, however, and it might be hard to select one of those teams over a Portola team that has already finished with a 12-0 record and a Northern Section championship.
Best bet: Portola.