CIF-Central Coast Section Playoff Preview

The Open Division should provide the most intriguing storylines, a potential rematch in the finals between the top two teams most of the year in the CCS or an all-San Jose final. And a small school team, who's waited a longtime to get into the playoffs, has a chance to make history...

The North Coast Section may have two of the favorites for the state bowl game berth's from Northern California, but the Central Coast Section has plenty of teams ready to make some noise for a trip to Carson.

The Open Division is loaded with talented teams, including defending champion San Jose Oak Grove and the team they beat in the finals, Gilroy. And the WCAL will be repped in the various divisions.

After a 40-year absence, San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral returns to the playoffs and could be a surprise team in the small division.

OPEN DIVISION

The Favorite: San Jose Oak Grove
The Challengers: Gilroy, San Jose Bellarmine Prep, San Jose Valley Christian
The Darkhorse: San Mateo Serra
Predicted Final: San  Jose Oak Grove over San Jose Bellarmine Prep

Oak Grove returns explosive Jabari Carr, an all-state pick from their CCS championship squad a year ago.  Bellarmine Prep returns the Big Four of Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback, Usua Amanam at running back, Michael Clay at linebacker and Kevin Danser up front.  Gilroy boasts the big arm of Jamie Jensen.  Serra has played a daunting schedule.  Valley Christian features Cameron Marshall, the bruising running back.  What does that all mean?  The Open Division is going to be a dandy to watch.

LARGE DIVISION

The Favorite: Menlo Atherton
The Challengers: San Jose Andrew Hill, San Jose Santa Teresa
The Darkhorse: Cupertino Monta Vista
Predicted Final: Menlo-Atherton over Andrew Hill

A midseason coaching change hasn't stopped Menlo-Atherton, as quarterback Turner Baty has gotten comfortable behind center for MA.  Andrew Hill lost A.J. Ellis to graduation but they've continued the legacy he helped build.  Monta Vista is a tough first-round opponent for MA and could give them some trouble.

MEDIUM DIVISION

The Favorite: San Jose Pioneer
The Challengers: Monterey, San Jose Leigh, Los Gatos
The Darkhorse: Palo Alto
Predicted Final: Pioneer over Palo Alto

Los Gatos suffered some losses to graduation but has been one of the surprises in the CCS this year.  Pioneer has had an excellent season and earned the top-seed because of it and would have to be considered the favorite.  Palo Alto won the title in 2006 and has the experience that makes a run to the finals a very real possibility.

SMALL DIVISION

The Favorite: Scotts Valley
The Challengers: Carmel, Sunnyvale The King's Academy
The Darkhorse: San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral
Predicted Final: SF Sacred Heart Cathedral over Scotts Valley

Picking SHC to win this has more to do with the path they had to go down to make the playoffs.  Going 5-5 in their first year in the WCAL is impressive and we think that their surprising season has prepped them for a deep playoff run.  The King's Academy features all-state pick Travis Johnson while the Carmel passing game is going to be one to watch in their first round game against SHC. 


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