With the state bowl games returning to the Home Depot Center on Friday, December 17th and continuing on December 18th in Carson, GoldenStatePreps.com takes a crack at who could be the respective division representatives from Northern California and Southern California as the playoffs continue to shake out.
Northern California candidates: Concord De La Salle, Sacramento Grant, Palo Alto
Southern California candidates: Mission Viejo, Anaheim Servite, Corona Centennial, Mission Hills Alemany, Chula Vista Eastlake, Gardena Serra
The Prediction: Concord De La Salle vs. Anaheim Servite
The Reason: De La Salle continues to roll and if they win their 19th straight section title, expect them back here in the Open Division title game. If they fall, Sacramento Grant, assuming they win, likely becomes the frontrunner. We're still going with Servite in the Pac-5 over Mission Viejo, which we'd expect to see in the Pac-5 finals. Basically, the only way you wouldn't see the Pac-5 champion here is if Mater Dei wins the Pac-5.
Northern California candidates: Concord De La Salle, Palo Alto, San Jose Valley Christian, Elk Grove Pleasant Grove
Southern California candidates: Corona Centennial, Chula Vista Eastlake, Westlake, Ventura St. Bonaventure, Los Angeles Crenshaw
The Prediction: Palo Alto vs. Corona Centennial
The Reason: The Paly-Valley Christian winner could sneak into the Open Division title game if De La Salle and Grant both lose their respective section titles but Elk Grove Pleasant Grove could have something to say about that. We'll assume Palo Alto will beat Valley Christian and the winner of that is almost assured the D-I spot from Northern California. In Southern California, Corona Centennial will likely be the D-I pick, unless Mater Dei wins the Pac-5, then Centennial could sneak in there. If Centennial loses, we think the winner of the Northern Division gets in here.
Northern California candidates: Sacramento Grant, Folsom, Loomis Del Oro, Concord
Southern California candidates: Gardena Serra, La Mesa Helix, Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, Fontana Kaiser, West Hills Chaminade
The Prediction: Sacramento Grant vs. Gardena Serra
The Reason: Assuming De La Salle does what they always do, win their section title, the Northern California spot will come down to the winner of Friday's SacJoaquin Section title game between Folsom and Grant. If Grant wins and DLS loses, Grant likely moves up to the Open Division so the door opens for Loomis Del Oro or Concord. If DLS loses and Folsom wins, we think Folsom won't go any higher than the D-II game. If DLS wins, then it's as we'd expect- the winner of Folsom/Grant here. In the South, Serra is the heavy favorite to return to Carson, and they'd need a lot of things to break their way (like Centennial not winning the Inland and Mater Dei to win the Pac-5) and it still might not be enough. So lets put Serra here as still the prohibitive favorite. But if Serra goes down, and loses to Chaminade in the process, Chaminade could jump Rancho Verde, Helix or Kaiser based on schedule strength.
Northern California candidates: Kentfield Marin Catholic, Alameda Encinal, Carmel
Southern California candidates: Valley Center, Ojai Nordhoff, Dos Palos, Lancaster Paraclete
The Prediction: Kentfield Marin Catholic vs. Valley Center
The Reason: Marin Catholic looks to be in good shape to make a return trip to Carson, after losing a heartbreaker to Serra a year ago, and would likely be the favorite in this game. Alameda Encinal and Carmel wouldn't mind a Marin Catholic loss because that puts them into position. In Southern California, Valley Center will be the likely pick if they win out, not just because of talent but also because you'd be hard pressed to see the San Diego Section be shutout and five Southern Section teams. Nordhoff has some impressive wins too, but this might be a political move for Valley Center. At the same time, Dos Palos would like to see Valley Center and Nordhoff lose and try to position themselves as the first Central Section team to ever make the state title game.
SMALL SCHOOLS DIVISION
Northern California candidates: Stockton Brookside Christian, Middletown, Ferndale
Southern California candidates: Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, Boron, Rio Hondo Prep, San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's
The Prediction: Stockton Brookside Christian vs. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon
The Reason: Brookside Christian has won and now waits, and it's likely the winner of the D-IV title in the North Coast Section is their toughest competition. Middletown is the favorite there. In the south, we liked Aquinas but they lost early. So now Sierra Canyon becomes the favorite with St. Margaret's, already a state champion in the small schools division from 2008, looming.