The last men standing
After nearly five months of jaw-dropping plays, bone-crunching hits, unbelievable comebacks, season-making wins and season-breaking losses, only 20 prep football teams remain standing with a chance at a California State Title.
Among those 20 teams, four hail from the Sac-Joaquin Section, giving validity to what coaches in the section already know — the Sac-Joaquin Section produces quality football that is on par with that of any other section in the state.
The selection committee, comprised of the 10 CIF section commissioners, has selected the following teams to participate in the 2012 CIF State Regional Football Championship Bowl Games with contests kicking off Friday and continuing through Saturday.
Here is a breakdown of the upcoming Northern California Regional matchups.
North: Folsom (14-0, 5-0) vs. De La Salle (13-0) 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Sacramento State
Folsom: The Bulldogs put a hurting on Elk Grove in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship game, winning 44-18 on their way to a perfect 14-0 season. Folsom is no stranger to CIF Bowl games, winning the Division II state championship in 2010. Folsom is currently ranked No. 13 in the state and No. 63 in the nation by MaxPreps. The Bulldogs run a spread offense that has steam rolled teams all season, averaging more than 490 yards per game and 46.9 points per game. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning has tormented defenses throwing for 4,964 yards with 61 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Folsom run game isn’t left behind though as the Bulldogs average 140.9 yards on the ground and have a pair of rushers with more than 750 yards on the season.
De La Salle (Concord): The Spartans routed James Logan, 52-7, to win its 21st consecutive North Coast Section Championship and at the same time pushed their unbeaten streak against Northern California competition to 235 games. The Spartans are ranked No. 6 in the state by MaxPreps and No. 20 in the nation. If those weren’t enough credentials, the Spartans have won the last three Open Division championships. The De La Salle defense is led by four potential Division I players with USC-bound linebacker Michael Hutchings, Cal-bound defensive end Victor Egu, uncommitted defensive end Austin Hooper and uncommitted strong safety D.J. Moffitt. Leading the Spartan offense, which averages 40.1 points per game, is senior running back Tiapepe Vitale. The talented runner averages 141.3 yards per game and has 26 touchdowns on the season.
CIF Southern California Regional Bowl game: Narbonne (14-0, 5-0) vs. Centennial (Corona) (13-1, 5-0) 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Cerritos College
North: Granite Bay (11-3, 5-0) vs. St. Ignatius (10-3, 5-2) 7:30 p.m. Friday at Sacramento State
Granite Bay: The Grizzlies overcame a 1-3 start to the 2012 season by winning 10 straight games including a 35-23 victory over Oak Ridge in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game. The Grizzlies were snubbed last season when the selection committee overlooked them but are getting their shot this season despite three losses. As usual, Granite Bay is a very balanced team. Senior quarterback Grant Caraway leads an offense that averages 36.3 points per game. Caraway averages only 117 yards per game but makes very few mistakes amassing 27 passing touchdowns to only five interceptions. The Grizzlies tote a pair of 1,000-yard rushers with John Cooley and Tony Ellison. Cooley leads the rushing attack with 1,341 yards and 13 touchdowns. Ellison averages more than 8 yards per carry, amassing 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 135 carries. The Grizzly defense boasts a bear at linebacker with sophomore Cameron Smith. The 6-foot, 3-inch tackling machine leads Granite bay with 178 tackles this season to go with 3.5 sacks and four interceptions.
St. Ignatius (San Francisco): The Wildcats earned a spot in the Northern California Bowl Championship game by outlasting Bellarmine, 13-10, in the Central Coast Section Championship game. Like Granite Bay, St. Ignatius enters the bowl championship game with three losses but got the nod by virtue of a strong playoff run. Leading the Wildcats is senior quarterback Jack Stinn with 1,928 pass yards and 21 touchdowns. Stinn has also rushed for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Completing the balanced Wildcat attack is junior running back Elijah Dale. The 5-foot, 8-inch, 175-pound back leads the Wildcats with 1,348 yards and 12 touchdowns.
CIF Southern California Regional Bowl game: Long Beach Poly (11-3, 6-0) vs. Clovis North (12-1, 4-1) 7:30 p.m. Friday at Veterans Stadium Long Beach City College
North: Clayton Valley Charter (12-1, 5-0) vs. Oakdale (13-1, 7-0) 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln High School, Stockton.
Oakdale: The Mustangs won their third Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title this season, defeating Vista Del Lago, 22-9, earning their first berth into a state bowl. Oakdale scores points in bunches, averaging 41 points per game. The Mustang defense holds up its end as well allowing only 11.2 points per game. Oakdale enters the contest on a 12-game winning streak having outscored their playoff opponents by a combined score of 162-47.
Clayton Valley: The Eagles enter the CIF Regional Bowl game on a 12-game winning streak, including a North Coast Section Championship win over Rancho Cotate, 35-7. Clayton Valley runs the ball and runs the ball well, averaging more than 335 yards per game and racking up 64 rushing touchdowns. Leading the rush attack is senior Joe Protheroe with 2,091 yards on just 132 carries. The 6-foot, 1-inch, 205-pound running back averaged 15.8 yards per carry and has found the end zone 23 times this season. While Protheroe is the Eagles’ main threat, 10 different Eagles have rushing touchdowns this season.
CIF Southern California Regional Bowl game: Serra (12-2, 4-1) vs. Edison (13-1, 5-0) 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Orange Coast College
North: Marin Catholic (13-1, 7-0) vs. Sutter (13-0, 6-0) 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Harrison Stadium, Oroville
Marin Catholic: The Wildcats are returning to the CIF Bowl competition for the second time in four years after defeating El Cerrito, 31-28, in the North Coast Section Championship. Marin Catholic lost to Serra in the Division III state Bowl game in 2009. The Wildcats haven’t lost since Sept. 7 and have been crushing teams ever since. In the 11 games since their loss to Vacaville, the Wildcats have held eight of those opponents to fewer than 10 points. In 2012, Marin Catholic averaged 40.6 points per game while allowing only 13.6 per game. The Wildcat offense is led by Cal-bound quarterback Jared Goff. In his final year with Marin Catholic, Goff has thrown for 3,244 yards and 34 touchdowns.
Sutter: The Huskies breezed through the Butte View League, going 6-0 without a game closer than 17 points. They earned their right to play in the Division III CIF Northern Region Bowl game by defeating West Valley, 38-31, in the Northern Section Championship game. The Sutter offense is high powered, scoring more than 40 points per game, and its defense is stingy, allowing fewer than 10 points per game. The Huskies do much of their damage on the ground, averaging 297.5 yards per game behind senior 1,000-yard rushers Nathan Ahlers and Mat Sanders. Ahlers leads the Huskies with 1,369 yards and a whopping 25 touchdowns. Sanders has accounted for 1,014 yards this season and 10 touchdowns. Leading the staunch Husky defense is Ryan Staas with 150 tackles from the middle linebacker position. Staas also has four sacks and five forced fumbles this season.
CIF Southern California Regional Bowl game: Madison (12-1, 4-0) vs. Monrovia (12-2, 5-0) 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Monrovia High School, Monrovia
North: McClymonds (9-3, 5-0) vs. Central Catholic (12-2, 6-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lincoln High School, Stockton
Central Catholic (Modesto): The Raiders crushed Bear River, 63-20, in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs and continued to wallop teams the rest of the way, concluding with a 52-10 victory over Escalon in the Division IV final. The win over Escalon makes 16 section titles for the Raiders. Central Catholic is back in the CIF Bowl mix for the first time since a 2007 loss to St. Bonaventure in the Division III game. The Raiders had two early-season losses, one to Placer and another to Downey, but haven’t lost or scored fewer than 34 points since. The high-powered Raider offense averages 49.6 points per game and boasts a pair of backs with more than 20 touchdowns each. Ray Lomas IV leads the Raiders rush with 1,765 yards and 28 touchdowns, and Rey Vega is second with 1,200 yards and 22 touchdowns.
McClymonds: The Warriors earned their spot in the CIF Northern Region Bowl game by trouncing Oakland Tech 38-13 in the Silver Bowl. McClymonds is the first team from the Oakland Section to get a CIF Bowl bid. After losing three of their first four games, the Warriors are on an eight-game winning streak and simply demolished their two playoff opponents, winning by a combined score of 92-13. In Oakland Athletic League play, the Warriors pitched four shutouts and won by a six-game combined score of 242-21. McClymonds is led by OAL MVP quarterback Keith Williams, who is joined by ALL-OAL first-teamers wide receiver Jalen Thompson and offensive linemen Kevin Vaugn and Dajon Ford. On defense, the Warriors will rely on All-OAL selections linebacker Antonio Cummings and defensive backs Yusef Sterling Lowe and Lavane Warren.
CIF Southern California Regional Bowl game: Santa Fe Christian (10-3, 5-0) vs. Rio Hondo Prep (12-1, 4-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday at Del Norte High School, San Diego
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford, call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.