One thing is for certain in the California state Division III bowl game - Serra (Gardena, Calif.)
will not be able to defend its state title.
The Cavaliers, who defeated
Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.)
in last year's state championship, no longer qualify for the Division III bowl game based on the new parameters set up by the California Interscholastic Federation. Instead of enrollment based parameters that have been used the past five years, the CIF has divided the state sections into their respective bowl divisions. Serra, which plays in the Western Division of the Southern Section, no longer qualifies for the Division III bowl game and will instead vie for a spot in the Division II bowl game.
Marin Catholic, Serra's opponent, still has a chance to qualify for the Division III bowl, and could be the favorite coming out of the North again this year.
Here's a look at the top teams from each section who could qualify for the Division III bowl game.North
North Coast Section
- Returning Division III bowl finalist Marin Catholic moves down to Division IV in the North Coast Section after winning the Division III title last season. The Wildcats look like the most likely candidate from NCS Division IV, however the Wildcats will also have to beat out the NCS Division III champ in order to return to the Division III state final. Teams among the contenders in Division III include Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)
, Miramonte (Orinda, Calif.)
and Encinal (Alameda, Calif.)
- The Lassen (Susanville, Calif.)
Grizzlies appear to be the favorite to win the Division II championship in the Northern Section for the second year in a row. Lassen has the bulk of the starters returning from last year's championship team and have opened the year at 3-0. Perennial champion Sutter (Sutter, Calif.)
can't be counted out while Wheatland (Wheatland, Calif.)
and Central Valley (Shasta Lake, Calif.)
also have to be considered.Sac-Joaquin Section
- The Sac-Joaquin Section will qualify section champions from Division IV, V and VI, however all three of the expected section champs in those divisions are also solid candidates for the small schools bowl game. There is a chance Central Catholic (Modesto, Calif.)
could win the Division IV section title in the Sac-Joaquin Section and accept the Division III berth, however it seems more likely that the Raiders would vie for the small schools bowl title.
The Sac-Joaquin Section doesn't split up its teams into the respective divisions until the playoffs begin, but likely Division IV candidates include perennial contender Escalon (Escalon, Calif.)
and upstart Livingston (Livingston, Calif.)
, which upended defending section champ Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.)
two weeks ago.Central Coast Section
- Hard to tell exactly what teams will qualify for the Division III and IV since some teams may opt to play in the Open Division. Seaside topped Terra Nova for the Division III title last year while Carmel (Carmel, Calif.)
finished undefeated in beating Menlo (Atherton, Calif.)
for the Division IV championship.
Menlo extracted a measure of revenge last week with a win over Carmel, however the Knights are also 1-1 on the season. Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton, Calif.)
is the early leader in the Peninsula Bay League at 2-0.South
- All of the teams from the Central Section Divisions IV, V and VI qualify for Division III with only a handful likely considered for the Small Schools bowl. Kingsburg (Kingsburg, Calif.)
(13-0 in 2009), Corcoran (Corcoran, Calif.)
(11-2) and Strathmore (Strathmore, Calif.)
(9-3) are the defending section champions. Kingsburg has moved up to Division III this year, however, leaving the likes of Bakersfield Christian (Bakersfield, Calif.)
, Washington Union (Fresno, Calif.)
, Coalinga (Coalinga, Calif.)
and Chowchilla (Chowchilla, Calif.)
as the teams to beat in Division IV.
Corcoran is already off to a 2-0 start in Division V but could get a push from Fowler (Fowler, Calif.)
, although the Bearcats already have a loss on their record. Caruthers (Caruthers, Calif.)
could be a another team to watch from the West Sequoia League.San Diego Section
- While Parker (San Diego, Calif.)
will likely be the small schools bowl participant from Division V in the San Diego Section, teams from Valley Center (Valley Center, Calif.)
, Brawley (Brawley, Calif.)
and Palo Verde Valley (Blythe, Calif.)
could be contenders for a berth from Division IV. Palo Verde Valley has one of the section's top passers in Roger Shupe, who threw for 340 yards in the season opener. Valley Center also usually sports a strong passing game and has opened with a pair of close wins over San Pasqual (29-14) and La Quinta (18-15).Southern Section
- Five divisions make up the bowl qualifiers from the Southern Section, including the Mid-Valley, Southern, East Valley, Northeast and Northwest divisions. The winner of the East Valley Division likely makes its case for a small schools bowl bid, leaving the other four divisions as possible contenders for a Division III bowl berth.Arroyo (El Monte, Calif.)
is 2-0 in the Mid-Valley Division and holds the top rank by the most recent coaches poll. Whittier Christian (La Habra, Calif.)
is ranked second at 2-0 while San Dimas (San Dimas, Calif.)
In the Northeast, Bishop (Bishop, Calif.)
and Salesian (Los Angeles, Calif.)
are the two top-ranked teams. Bishop is 1-0 after a 38-7 win over Linfield Christian while Salesian is 2-0.Templeton (Templeton, Calif.)
and Nordhoff (Ojai, Calif.)
are 1-2 in the Northwest Division, both at 2-0. Garden Grove (Garden Grove, Calif.)
and Santiago (Garden Grove, Calif.)
lead the Southern Division with 1-0 records.