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December 31, 2013

Final Football Top 20

Another high school season is in the books and the final rankings are set. How close does the final Top 20 resemble our preseason picks? Look at how we graded out for the 2013 campaign.

Preseason Rankings

1. De La Salle
2. Folsom
3. Granite Bay
4. Pleasant Grove
5. Elk Grove
6. Bellarmine
7. El Cerrito
8. Marin Catholic
9. Serra
10. Del Oro
11. St. Mary's-Stockton
12. California
13. Valley Christian-San Jose
14. Cardinal Newman
15. Deer Valley
16. Clayton Valley Charter
17. Casa Grande
18. Burbank
19. Napa
20. Freedom

Final Rankings

1. De La Salle
2. Folsom
3. Oak Ridge
4. Del Oro
5. Pleasant Grove
6. Serra
7. Mitty
8. Elk Grove
9. Granite Bay
10. California
11. Pittsburg
12. Deer Valley
13. Rio Linda
14. Valley Christian-San Jose
15. Bellarmine
16. Terra Nova
17. Sacred Heart Prep
18. El Cerrito
19. Marin Catholic
20. Campolindo

On the Mark

Most everyone had De La Salle and Folsom 1-2 in Northern California to start the season and this prognosis didn't disappoint. A year after reaching the inaugural Open Division regional bowl game, the two programs combined for a 27-0 record and a pair of section titles before the Spartans cruised past Folsom in the NorCal Open Division finals. Expect the programs to remain No. 1 and No. 2 in 2013.

California remains the top public school program in the North Coast Section with another trip to the NCS Division I finals. The Grizzlies' losses this year came against Pittsburg and De La Salle twice. They avenged their loss to the Pirates in the NCS semi-finals. It is the second section title game appearance for California under head coach Eric Billeci.

Valley Christian had a bounce back year in reaching the Central Coast Section Open Division semi-finals. The Warriors, with a strong running game and good line play, took a step forward thanks to improvements on the defensive side of the ball. They lost to Mitty twice, Serra and Vacaville. Starting the year at No. 13, the Warriors end the season at No. 14 and return star running back Kirk Johnson.

Teams we missed on

From unranked to No. 3, Oak Ridge finished 12-2 with a pair of losses to Folsom. The Trojans beat Pleasant Grove twice with other wins over Granite Bay, Jesuit, Rocklin and Grant. They will return quarterback Ian Book, who played well beyond his sophomore class. Oak Ridge will move with Folsom to the Sierra Foothill League next year.

The West Catholic Athletic League was deemed as a wide open race to start the fall, but one team not receiving much attention was Mitty. The Monarchs won their first nine games to vault up the rankings and reached the CCS Open Division finals. Both of their losses came against eventual champion Serra. After starting unranked, Mitty finishes the year No. 7.

Pittsburg was picked to finish third in the Bay Valley Athletic League, but the Pirates did what they usually do. They won the BVAL behind a power running game led by Oregon State bound Harris Ross with only early season losses to Analy and Granite Bay before falling to California in the semi-finals. They did all of this with Ross battling injuries in the second half of the year.

In the final season of head coach Michael Morris, Rio Linda made the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semi-finals utilizing a run dominated attack. Marcel Brown and Leonard Skattebo were the workhorses as the Knights lost to Elk Grove to finish the year 11-2. They had an 11 game winning streak.

Too High to start

St. Mary's had high hopes at No. 11 with a quarterback, good skill talent and overall team speed returning. The Rams struggled to live up to the preseason ranking, including seeing their league winning streak snapped by Stagg and a first round playoff exit at Yuba City. They ended the year unranked.

The Cardinals have made two trips to the state bowl games, but they fell out of the rankings quickly in going 7-3 in the regular season. They lost to Analy in the second round of the NCS Division III playoffs. Four losses are the most losses for Cardinal Newman since losing five games in 2009.

Napa was made the surprise preseason pick to win the Monticello Empire League, but the Indians weren't able to unseat Vacaville. They finished the regular season 6-4 before a first round loss to final No. 3 Oak Ridge in the SJS Division I playoffs. Napa graduates Oregon bound offensive lineman Braden Eggert.


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