Who wins out between Folsom's offense and De La Salle's defense? Can Joe Protheroe and Clayton Valley's run game move the ball against Oakdale? These are just some of the matchups we look at in the Regional Bowl previews, which include predictions on all five games.
Open Division: #1 De La Salle (13-0) vs. #2 Folsom (14-0) 7:30 PM Saturday at Sacramento State
Recruits - De La Salle: Michael Hutchings 6-foot-2, 210 pounds LB 4-star (USC), Austin Hooper 6-foot-4, 233 pounds DE 3-star, Victor Egu 6-foot-3, 217 pounds LB 3-star (California), David Moffitt 6-foot-2, 205 pounds LB 3-star, Sumner Houston 6-foot-3, 242 pounds OL/DL (2014), Larry Allen Jr. 6-foot-3, 250 pounds OL (2014) Folsom: Phillip Carter 6-foot-1, 195 pounds WR/DB 2-star (San Jose State), Rodney Ellison 6-foot-2, 175 pounds WR (2014), Jake Browning 6-foot-2, 185 pounds QB (2015), Bailey Laolagi RB/LB 6-foot-1, 205 pounds (2015)
Tale of the Tape - De La Salle is outscoring its opponents by 29.3 points (40 to 10.7) while Folsom has an average winning margin of 27.3 points (46.8 to 19.5). De La Salle is powered by the ground game in the veer led by Tiapepe Vitale at 1,734 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Spartan runners have run harder as the season has worn on while quarterback Chris Williams had his best game of the year against Logan last week. The defensive front seven is the best in the region, led by edge rushers Egu and Hooper with linebackers Hutchings and Moffitt. Being able to get pressure with the front four and giving support to the secondary in pass defense is the key for the Spartans. Folsom's spread passing attack hasn't skipped a beat with Browning at the helm. He has thrown for 4,763 yards and 58 touchdowns on 66 percent passing. He has three receivers with at least 42 catches, including Troy Knox with 90 grabs for 1,107 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Bulldogs are running for about 140 yards per game behind junior Harry Lipnosky. They have also shown "wildcat" looks this year. The defense has shown improvement in being more aggressive. Can they create negative plays to get De La Salle's offense off script? It is vital if Folsom wants to pull the upset.
And the Winner is...De La Salle. Folsom will get its yards and points, but will have to deal with the physicality of De La Salle. The Spartans will make enough stops on defense and produce a very efficient night of offense to win 38-28.
Division I: #3 Granite Bay (11-3) vs. #7 St. Ignatius (10-3) 7:30 PM Friday at Sacramento State
Recruits - Granite Bay: Beau Hershberger 6-foot-2, 230 pounds LB 3-star, Tony Ellison 6-foot-0, 170 pounds ATH, Cameron Smith 6-foot-3, 220 pounds LB (2015) St. Ignatius: Elijah Dale 5-foot-8, 175 pounds RB, Noah Bull 6-foot-0, 210 pounds LB
Tale of the Tape - Granite Bay has been rolling since a 28-27 loss to Pittsburg in all phases. The Grizzlies can run it inside and outside in the fly offense with Ellison as the fly man and Taft Partridge and John Cooley between the tackles. An underrated part of this offense is the quality play from quarterback Grant Caraway, who doesn't wow you with his arm but makes sound decisions and pressure throws. It all operates behind an offense line which has shined in the playoffs. After struggling early, the defense has defended the pass much better, especially down the field. Hershberger is an x-factor as an athletic rusher or someone you can drop into coverage. St. Ignatius is a balanced offense in averaging around 175 yards passing and rushing. Jack Stinn is averaging about seven yards per completion and is elusive in the pocket. He has a big target to throw to in 6-foot-5 senior Andrew Vollert. Elijah Dale leads the ground attack at more than 100 yards per game. The defense has been vulnerable to the run in losses to Bellarmine and Serra, but played better en route to the Central Coast Section Open Division title.
And the Winner is...Granite Bay. This game will come down to Granite's Bay's ground game versus St. Ignatius' run defense. The Wildcats have improved in this department, but the Granite Bay is operating at a high level in both play calling and execution. Grizzlies win 31-21
Division II: #15 Oakdale (13-1) vs. #20 Clayton Valley Charter (12-1) 7:30 PM Saturday at Lincoln HS (Stockton)
Recruits - Clayton Valley: Joe Protheroe 6-foot-1, 205 pounds RB
Tale of the Tape - Oakdale is averaging 41 points per game, but has struggled to put offense together against top defenses. It has a physical runner in Nikk Ryan and a dual threat quarterback with senior Spencer Thomas. Misdirection and tempo are primary characteristics for Oakdale's attack. Having the passing game as a threat on Saturday is a big key for the Mustangs. The defense gets good pressure off both edges and hits well at all three levels, but doesn't have great size. Holding up against the power game of Clayton Valley will be important to watch. The Eagles don't have an extensive playbook, but are terrific at what they run. Protheroe is a physical runner with burst who has more than 2,000 yards on the year. As a team, the Eagles are well over 300 yards per game with between 80-90 percent of their plays on the ground. In five of its last six games, the Clayton Valley defense has given up seven points or less. It has played with leads much of the year, so getting off to a good start in important for Clayton Valley.
And the Winner is...Clayton Valley. The explosiveness of the Clayton Valley running game wins out in scoring quick touchdowns and not having to drive against Oakdale. This is a one possession game for much of the night, but the Eagles move on 28-21.
Division III: #6 Marin Catholic (13-1) vs. Sutter (13-0) 7:30 PM Saturday at Harrison Stadium (Oroville)
Recruits - Marin Catholic: Jared Goff 6-foot-5, 190 pounds QB 4-star (California), Gunnar Graham 6-foot-6, 280 pounds OT 3-star (Colorado), Alex Poksay 6-foot-1, 206 pounds LB, Akili Terry 6-foot-0, 205 pounds RB, Morgan Mahalak 6-foot-3, 195 pounds QB (2014)
Tale of the Tape - Marin Catholic runs almost exclusively in a four wide receiver, one running back shotgun with Goff as the maestro of the attack. The Rivals250 member has a live arm, is accurate to all levels and is dangerous in his ball fakes on zone read plays. Terry brings a physical running style to the offense and is a great compliment to what the Wildcats do to the outside in the passing game. While the Wildcats run a lot of catch and run routes, they also push the ball downfield. Andrew Celis is the top receiving threat. Defensively, Marin Catholic is solid in play recognition and tackles well. Its top end speed was tested against El Cerrito last week and showed some cracks. Graham saw snaps on defense last week and could again on Saturday. Sutter is a run heavy team with 494 rushes to 131 pass attempts. It has a pair of 1,000 yard backs in fullback Nathan Ahlers and running back Mat Sanders. The Huskies are averaging about 10 yards per pass attempt. Defensive end Garrett Wallace leads the defense with 112 total tackles and 16.5 sacks as one of three players with double digit sacks. Sutter is outscoring its opponents this year by an average of 32 points as the top team in the Northern Section.
And the Winner is...Marin Catholic. Sutter will need to play a near perfect game by getting pressure on Goff, be able to control the clock with its running game and create a swing play on defense or special teams. That is a tough recipe against a Marin Catholic team which has lost five games the past four years. Wildcats win 38-24.
Division IV: #14 Central Catholic (12-2) vs. McClymonds (9-3) 7:30 PM Friday at Lincoln HS (Stockton)
Recruits - Central Catholic: John Mundt 6-foot-5, 235 pounds TE 3-star (Oregon), Rey Vega 5-foot-10, 185 pounds RB
Tale of the Tape - Central Catholic has been considered the runaway top team in this division since August. The Raiders have 434 rushing attempts to 180 passing attempts as a physical team. Ray Lomas IV is the leading rusher at 1,765 yards, but Rey Vega has stepped in after sitting out due to transfer rules to add another dimension to the ground attack. Both backs are averaging more than eight yards per carry. When it does pass, Central Catholic has a big target in Mundt and 6-foot-0 Nathan Loya, who leads the team in catches, yards and touchdowns. In their 12 wins this year, Central Catholic has given up just over eight points in the first half after giving up more than 40 points in two of its first three games to Placer and Downey. Mundt has also been a terror on defense with 15.5 sacks while the defense as a whole has forced 39 turnovers. Joey Abbate has nine interceptions. McClymonds has a good one-two punch in the backfield with senior dual threat quarterback Keith Williams and senior running back Kenyatta McGee Jackson, who has rushed for 285 yards and three touchdowns the past two weeks. The Warriors are big up front in providing the Raiders with a different look than it has seen since the early season. Defensively, McClymonds has dominated opponents, but how will it hold up against a developed attack like Central Catholic? In its three losses against quality competition, McClymonds is averaging to give up just shy of 27 points per game.
And the Winner is...Central Catholic. The Raiders were expected to be a heavy favorite in this game if they became eligible. McClymonds will test Central Catholic and can keep it close early, but too many weapons for the Raiders win out. Central Catholic moves onto Carson with a 35-19 win.