The number of high school football teams capable of qualifying for the California state bowl games has narrowed, but that doesn’t mean the CIF selection committee won’t be without some options.
With the Open Division, the selection committee can essentially take a team from any enrollment division. The hope here is to create a matchup between the best two teams in the state, one from the North and one from the South, regardless of division.
The committee has a similar option at the Division III level. While the committee will likely take a team that is in the Division III enrollment level, the committee has the option of choosing a team from the Small Schools Division and putting it in the Division III contest.
Here’s a look at how those two options could play out when the committee makes its choices Sunday.
The bowl berths will be announced by the CIF from the Home Depot Center in Carson on Sunday afternoon.
SoCal Division I
A total of 14 teams are still in contention, although that number will be pared down by the results of this week’s San Diego, Southern and Los Angeles City Section finals. The two games that bear watching include the Edison-Servite matchup for the Pac-5 championship and the Chaparral-Vista Murrieta contest for the Inland Valley Division title.
If Edison and Vista Murrieta both win, the committee can breathe easier because it will have two quality, undefeated candidates to consider for the Open and Division I berths. The only dilemma then is to decide which team plays where. Our guess is that Edison would get the Open berth and Vista Murrieta would play in the Division I game, based on the rankings provided by CalPreps.
If Edison and Vista Murrieta both lose, things get a little messy. For one, the Open Division could then be up for grabs, possibly by Oaks Christian, if it defeats Serra for the Northwest Division title.
Upsets also open the door for Oceanside of the San Diego Section and possibly even Bullard of the Central Section to make an argument for their inclusion in the Division I discussion (assuming both win their section title games this week).
Best Guess: Open – Edison; Div. I – Vista Murrieta.
NorCal Division I
Bellarmine has already qualified and is waiting for the results of the North Coast and Sac-Joaquin Section championships. If De La Salle defeats Pittsburg, it will most assuredly gain either an Open or Division I berth. The wrench in the works is the Rocklin Thunder.
If Rocklin defeats Del Oro, the Thunder could make a good case to be the Open Division entrant. After all, Bellarmine is currently ranked No. 1 in the Division I CalPreps rankings ahead of De La Salle, but Rocklin, with a Del Oro win, could make a better argument since it would have beaten a team (Del Oro) that defeated St. Mary’s, which defeated Bellarmine. Granted, that’s an extrapolated use of the geometric transitive property, but it’s an argument that could (and probably will) be made.
The guess here, however, is that De La Salle, Northern California’s premier program for the past 30 years, will be awarded the Open Division berth with Bellarmine getting the Division I berth.
Best Guess: Open – De La Salle; Div. 1 – Bellarmine.
SoCal Division II
Servite has pulled out some close wins in the Pac-5 playoffs and certainly can’t be discounted in the championship game against Edison. A Friar victory makes the decision process a little more difficult since Crenshaw is the Los Angeles City Section favorite and the selection committee would probably like to include an L.A. City Section team if possible.
Should Servite win, however, it becomes a candidate for the Open Division game, thus opening the way for Crenshaw to be the Division II pick. The only other game that will figure into the mix is the Northern Division matchup between Westlake and Moorpark. Westlake defeated St. Bonaventure, the two-time Division III state champion. Westlake is undefeated and has already played Moorpark once. Should it win the Northern Division, Westlake can make a good case to be the Division II representative.
Best Guess: Crenshaw.
NorCal Division II
The winner of the Rocklin-Del Oro game looks to be the hands-down favorite to gain the Division II berth. The only question would be whether or not Rocklin would be considered for a spot in the Open Division game. If that were to happen, the winner of the Inderkum-Del Campo game likely moves into the Division II spot.
Best Guess: Rocklin.
SoCal Division III
The winner of the Oaks Christian-Serra game will receive the berth. The only question is whether or not Oaks Christian gets any consideration for the Open Division game. The list of quality Division III candidates gets slimmer if that were to happen as the smaller divisions from the Central and San Diego Sections come into play.
Best Guess: Oaks Christian.
NorCal Division III
Modesto Christian, which is in the Small Schools enrollment division, could actually gain consideration for the Division III berth. The Crusaders already knocked off Central Catholic, which had been the favorite in this division. Modesto Christian will have to defeat Placer this week to even qualify, however.
If the committee decides not to elevate Modesto Christian to the Division III game, or the Crusaders don’t qualify, then several teams from the Central Coast Section could come into play. Carmel won the Central Section Division III championship and is undefeated. However, Seaside won the Central Section Division II crown. Carmel is undefeated and ranked higher by CalPreps, while Seaside has two losses and a tie but played in a higher playoff division.
Precedent shows that Seaside would be the choice. Last year the committee chose Hamilton, which had two losses, over Modoc, which was undefeated, out of the Northern Section as the Small Schools NorCal rep. Hamilton’s stronger schedule and championship in a higher playoff division were two of the reasons for its selection over Modoc.
However, if Seaside is deemed the better pick from the Central Coast Section, then Marin Catholic, which is 12-1 in the North Coast Section heading into its matchup with Encinal, could emerge as the favorite with a win due to its better overall record.
Best Guess: Modesto Christian.
SoCal Small Schools
Parker continues to be the choice. If Parker loses in the San Diego Section playoffs, look for St. Margaret’s to defend its state title.
Best Guess: Parker.
NorCal Small Schools
If Modesto Christian is chosen to play in the Division III game, the choice comes down to Capital Christian and Portola. Capital Christian has already won the Division IV section title in the Sac-Joaquin Section. The Cougars have three losses, but the losses are to Modesto Christian, Monterey Trail and Placer, all three of whom are playing in the section championships this week.
Portola, meanwhile, is undefeated but does not quite have as strong of a schedule as Capital Christian. Nevertheless, the undefeated record may look enticing to the committee.
Best Guess: Capital Christian