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December 5, 2013

Championship Fact Sheet

12 games remain before the 10 regional bowl teams are selected on Sunday. We take a look at the squads still standing with a lethal passing duo in Sacramento, St. Mary's run to the section finals and St. Ignatius looking for a third straight title.

Folsom is playing in its third section final in the last four years, but is aiming for its first Division I title during this stretch. Folsom has won 72 games over the last six seasons, including the 2010 Division II state championship against Serra-Gardena. It gets a second meeting with Oak Ridge for win No. 73 and a third section crown. The Bulldogs shutout the Trojans 35-0 in Folsom earlier this year.

After beating Pleasant Grove 26-20 last weekend, Oak Ridge is making its second straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division I final. After failing to win more than seven games in the first five years under head coach Eric Cavaliere, Oak Ridge has gone 24-3 in the last two years. It will look to win the program's first section title since 2004.

Del Oro is known for being a power running team, but Michael Moore has given the Golden Eagles a passing threat this season. He has thrown 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions in three playoff wins. Running back Dylan Kainrath has surpassed 1,500 rushing yards. Del Oro was eliminated by Elk Grove 35-32 in the Division II semi-finals last year.

Wadus Parker has 1,670 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns to help pace the Thundering Herd back to the Division II title game. Defensively, Elk Grove is holding opponents to less than 10 points per game. Over the last three years, Elk Grove is 36-4 with losses to just Folsom and Franklin-Elk Grove. A win for the Thundering Herd likely puts them in the Division I regional bowl game.

Alex Laurel has gone from an unknown on the NorCal scene to a back with more than 1,600 rushing yards for the Buffaloes. Last week against Inderkum, he rushed for 173 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-36 win. With a win over Sacramento, Manteca will finish the year 13-1 with a loss to De Anza league champion Wilcox. However, it looks like the Buffaloes will be left out of the regional bowl picture.

The passing combination of Sacramento High's Caden Voges and Damen Wheeler, who hooked up eight times for 380 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-38 win over Christian Brothers, is certainly one to watch. On the year, Wheeler has tallied 1,840 yards and 22 touchdowns. After not winning a playoff game before this year under head coach Paul Doherty, the Dragons have won three this year, including a win over defending champion Oakdale.

Central Catholic will try to keep its state title defense alive as it takes on undefeated Hilmar on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln High School in Stockton. Running back Matt Ringer has rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. He finished with more than 200 yards for the third time this year against Ripon last week.

Hilmar has the fourth most section championship in SJS history at six, including the 2008 Division V title against Central Catholic 17-6 at UOP. This year's Yellowjackets are 13-0 behind the two-way production of quarterback Jonathan O'Brien. The Division IV title game has major bowl implications. A Central Catholic wins locks up a Division IV spot while a Hilmar victory should send them to the Division III regional game.

Can NCS boast three undefeated champions?

De La Salle has ruled over some of the best teams in North Coast Section Division I, including a 55-0 regular season win over California. The Spartans have had only one game decided by less than 20 points (21-14 win over Serra). They go into Saturday's finale as a major favorite and will head to the Open Division regional game with a win. De La Salle owns a 38 game winning streak and has a 56 game winning streak against in-state competition.

This is the second NCS finals appearance for Cal under head coach Eric Billeci after making it in 2010. The Grizzlies lost to De La Salle 49-21 in 2010 and face the Spartans again this year. Continuing the success built under Tony Sanchez (now at Bishop Gorman), the Grizzlies make a compelling argument as the top public school program in the section.

After numerous losses in the Division II semi-finals, Casa Grande has advanced to the NCS Division II finals after beating Montgomery 42-13. The Gauchos are paced by dual threat quarterback JaJuan Lawson, who has more than 3,000 total yards and 35 touchdowns. He teams with running back John Porchivina (1,514 yards and 18 touchdowns) to form a potent backfield.

There are plenty of quarterbacks who gain headlines, but one who remains under the radar is Miramonte senior Drew Anderson. He has thrown for 3,635 yards with 42 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-34 upset win over Clayton Valley Charter.

Marin Catholic hasn't played many competitive games this year, but will get one on Friday night against El Cerrito. The Wildcats have a pair of Division I commits on offense in quarterback Morgan Mahalak (Oregon) and Andrew Celis (Nevada). They are averaging more than 40 points per game, including a 45-14 season opening win over section finalist Miramonte.

There aren't many teams that can match up with the top end talent of El Cerrito, which makes its second straight appearance in the NCS Division III title game. Adarius Pickett, Derik Calhoun and Jalen Harvey combined for five touchdowns against Campolindo with Keilan Benjamin and Keith Benjamin also providing good running threats. James Houston adds a power dimension to the ground attack.

St. Mary's is 9-4, but all four losses have been to section finalists in Miramonte, El Cerrito, Salesian and Valley Christian-Dublin. The Panthers posted double digit point wins against Fort Bragg and St. Helena before knocking off top seed San Marin 35-29. They have a senior trio on offense with quarterback Ian Bonde, running back Lorenzo Logwood and wide receiver Liam Godfrey.

Outside of a pair of losses to Eureka, Fortuna is a perfect 10-0 and is averaging just shy of 35 points per game. There are no common opponents for Fortuna and St. Mary's, but the Huskies go into the Division IV finals as an underdog. The game will be played at Humboldt State on Saturday.

WCAL can claim three of four section championships

After stumbling against St. Francis-Mountain View in the regular season, Serra has the team to beat status following a 31-7 win over Mitty three weeks ago. The Padres face Mitty for second time with a section title and regional bowl spot on the line. Serra's defense hasn't given up more than 17 points in any of the four games since the loss to St. Francis.

Mitty hasn't won a section title since the Division III title in 1999, but have the pieces to make a run at one Friday night at San Jose City College. Junior Dakari Monroe is a playmaker in all three facets to go with a strong running game and good defense. Over the last five games in this series, the results are 2-2-1.

Squally Canada has rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 of 12 games this year in totaling 1,657 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has 331 yards and eight touchdowns in two playoff wins. Milpitas fell to San Benito 35-28 in the 2012 CCS Division I finals. Look for it to change the result this time around.

The Haybalers sat at 2-4 following a 35-21 loss to Monterey, but have won five out of six games after beating previously unbeaten Alvarez 37-7. Among the losses for San Benito are to section finalist Los Gatos, Division II semi-finalist Palo Alto and league champion Palma.

St. Francis is in serious bowl consideration after a semi-final win over Palo Alto. The Lancers, 9-3, have beaten Open Division finalist Serra and own close losses to Mitty, Bellarmine and Valley Christian-San Jose. The Lancers have scored at least 41 points in each of their last five wins.

If you haven't been following Joey Wood this fall, you have missed out on a big season. The junior has rushed for 1,827 yards and 27 touchdowns. In two playoff games, he has rushed for season highs in yards (313 and 213) to go with 10 touchdowns. Another big game on the ground could signal a section title in year one under head coach Mark Krail.

Aptos has won at least nine games in each of the last three years, but don't have a section title to show for it. The Mariners lost in the Division III finals to Valley Christian-San Jose in 2012. Both of the Mariners' losses this year (Encinal and Clovis West) have come by a combined five points and are averaging more than 40 points per game.

The playoff success of St. Ignatius has prompted plenty of controversy in the CCS as the 2-8 Wildcats have rolled to two playoffs wins in Division III. Whether West Catholic Athletic League teams should be sent to the Open Division or not, St. Ignatius is playing for a third straight section title. The Wildcats have seen four of their eight losses come by one possession.

Giving up eight points per game, Sacred Heart Prep's defense has been a hallmark for the program, which defeated Menlo in the 2012 Division IV title game. The Gators are 23-2 over the last two years and a section title could extend Sacred Heart Prep's season with a regional bowl bid. If they are chosen, they will be the third different team from the CCS to be part of the state bowl process.

Pacific Grove avenged its only loss of the year in beating Carmel 77-53 in last week's Division IV semi-final. The Breakers have 16 rushing touchdowns apiece from Jake Speed and Jason Leach. Quarterback Luke Lowell has passed for 31 touchdowns to round out an offense scoring 47 points per game. Pacific Grove will make a good case for a regional bowl spot with a win. It would leave the Breakers 12-1 with a loss to Carmel that they later avenged.


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