Home Depot Center will house some of the state's best teams and players this weekend as Northern California looks for improvement on a one win performance in 2011. How many wins should the region expect this year? Read on for game predictions and a list of the top recruits on hand.
Open Division: De La Salle (14-0) vs. Centennial (14-1) Saturday at 8:00 PM
Austin Hooper 6-foot-4, 247 pounds DE De La Salle (2013): Hampered by injuries early in the year, Hooper is back and a playmaker at defensive end and tight end. He is a good athlete for his size who gets off the line well in getting after the quarterback. He also has good hands on offense as a threat in De La Salle's passing game. He holds 18 offers and is a 3-star prospect on the rise.
Michael Hutchings 6-foot-2, 215 pounds LB De La Salle (2013): The USC commit was outstanding in last week's win over Folsom. He is a hard hitter who can drop into coverage. He made a nice interception to start off the game on Saturday night. He is ranked No. 71 in the country and No. 7 for outside linebackers according to Rivals.com. Hutchings is one of the top linebackers to come through the region in a number of years.
David Moffitt 6-foot-2, 205 pounds LB De La Salle (2013): An athletic linebacker, Moffitt is good in pass coverage and has the frame to add weight at the next level. He is ranked as a 3-star prospect with Arizona and Colorado reportedly high on his list. He is a prospect on the rise.
Garrett Hughes 6-foot-2, 230 pounds DE Centennial (2013): Hughes is one of two Cal commits suiting up for Centennial. Undersized a bit, he has 60 tackles and three sacks this year as a quick, explosive defender off the ball. Hughes is a 3-star prospect.
Cameron Hunt 6-foot-5, 270 pounds OL Centennial (2013): The 4-star tackle prospect has been committed to Cal since the summer, but has recently picked up offers from Michigan, Nebraska and Oregon. Following his performance at the Oakland Nike Camp, Rivals.com analyst Adam Gorney wrote, "Hunt comes from one of the most-respected programs in Southern California and it's easy to see he's well coached, disciplined and, maybe most importantly on the offensive line, not shy of contact. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound prospect showed great hands and extended into defensive linemen with ease, controlling them at the point of contact. He never was on his heels and almost always showed off great balance to keep complete control during one-on-ones." He is ranked No. 27 for offensive tackles in the country.
Anthony Juarez 6-foot-6, 310 pounds OL Centennial (2013): A lumbering lineman, Juarez is a 2-star recruit who is at his best when he can engage a defender and lean on them. He can make plays at the second level, but is better in close contact. He holds offers from New Mexico State and Idaho.
Viane Talamaivao 6-foot-3, 300 pounds OL Centennial (2014): The offensive linemen recruits continue to roll for the Huskies. Talamaivao is on the 2014 Rivals250 watch list and offers from Colorado, Ole Miss, UCLA, Utah, Washington and Washington State. He has been out since October with a foot injury though.
Game Prediction: This is the third game these two programs will play in the state bowl format. De La Salle is coming off back-to-back dominant performances with its power running game behind Tiapepe Vitale and an offensive line featuring junior linemen Sumner Houston (6-foot-3, 242 pounds) and Larry Allen Jr. (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) and sophomore Drew Sullivan (6-foot-3, 270 pounds). The defense also slowed down Folsom's spread this past week, but now will contend with Centennial attack which is averaging 276 yards passing and 266 yards rushing. Junior quarterback Robert Webber is also third on the team in rushing behind a pair of 1,000 yard rushers. The Huskies have won their last three games by 10 points or less in giving up an average of 29 points per game. They will need to make more stops on Saturday to pull the upset. Nobody has played the Spartans as well in-state as Centennial the past five years, but De La Salle is playing too well after a slower start. De La Salle wins 35-21.
Division I: Granite Bay (12-3) vs. Long Beach Poly (12-3) Friday at 8:00 PM
Beau Hershberger 6-foot-3, 232 pounds OLB Granite Bay (2013): Hershberger is a threat to rush the passer and drop into coverage as a good athlete for his size. He is also good in run defense to hold the edge and stay disciplined. He is a 3-star recruit with offers from Army, Navy, Air Force, Colorado State, Northern Colorado, Sacramento State, UC Davis, Weber State and Yale.
Cameron Smith 6-foot-3, 220 pounds LB Granite Bay (2015): He has very good size for an underclassman that reads plays well and is a good tackler. Smith is a key aspect of Granite Bay's tough run defense and will be counted on for another strong performance this Friday.
Jayon Brown 6-foot-1, 195 pounds LB Long Beach Poly (2013): The 3-star linebacker and UCLA commit is a tough, aggressive linebacker who is good in pass coverage. He had offers from Colorado and Colorado State prior to committing.
David Price 6-foot-2, 200 pounds S Long Beach Poly (2013): A big safety, Price is physically imposing and has also been an offensive playmaker at points. He is a 3-star recruit and in the top 60 safeties in the country. He has offers from Arizona, Colorado, Fresno State, New Mexico State and SMU.
Thomas Tucker 5-foot-10, 170 pounds WR Long Beach Poly (2013): Tucker could be a name Northern California fans learn more about if his commitment to San Jose State holds. He is ranked as a 2-star prospect and part of an 11 prospect class for the Spartans.
Gerard Wicks 5-foot-11, 185 pounds RB Long Beach Poly (2013): Wicks is a 3-star prospect and No. 51 for running backs in the country. He is a physical back who can get yards after contact. Wicks has been committed to Washington State since the summer, but is starting to look around. He has reported offers from Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State and Nevada with other Pac-12 schools calling.
John Smith 6-foot-1, 185 pounds WR Long Beach Poly (2014): Already holding offers from Fresno State, San Jose State and UCLA, Smith is a junior who could use the State Bowl stage as a springboard into the camp circuit. He competes well for the ball and is a playmaker in the open field. He is one of two Division I wide receivers for Poly.
Iman Mitchell 6-foot-0, 175 pounds DB Long Beach Poly (2015): Just a sophomore, Mitchell already holds offers from UCLA and Washington State. He has good size and fluid motions and has the early potential to be one of the better corners on the West Coast in his class.
Game Prediction: Both teams want to run the ball first with Granite Bay's trio of John Cooley, Taft Partridge and Tony Ellison against Manusoma Lunga and Gerard Wicks of Poly. Long Beach Poly ran for 216 yards against Clovis North last week while holding Clovis North to just 77 yards. The defenses have played well of late, but look for the battles at the line of scrimmages to play a big factor on Friday night, especially with the size of Long Beach Poly. The Grizzlies' offensive line play has been outstanding during the playoffs. Also which team can hit timely passes and provide a complement for the running game is important. Granite Bay's Grant Caraway has been very good of late in making key throws, so go with the Grizzlies in a 24-21 win.
Division II: Oakdale (14-1) vs. Serra-Gardena (13-2) Saturday at 4:00 PM
Emerald Faletuipapai 6-foot-6, 339 pounds OG Serra (2013): Faletuipapai has imposing size which translates to playing inside at guard. He is a 2-star prospect with offers from Hawaii and Houston. Serra is averaging 261 yards per game on the ground.
Ardis Perez 5-foot-10, 209 pounds LB Serra (2013): Though he is unranked by Rivals.com, Perez has offers from Air Force and Idaho. He has 109 tackles and 2.5 sacks this year.
Adoree' Jackson 5-foot-10, 172 pounds CB Serra (2014): Jackson is an early 5-star prospect for the 2014 class and one of the best juniors in the country. He has early offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Nebraska, Northwestern, SMU, UCLA, Utah, Washington and Washington State. Rivals.com wrote of him this season, "Jackson will not blow anyone away from a physical standpoint. He's not small by any means, but his gifts are more concentrated in his athleticism, feel for the game and his playmaking ability. He is the rare cornerback that can be running full speed in coverage, stop immediately to knock down a pass or intercept it or even jump higher than anyone on the field to make a play on the ball. Jackson has outstanding vision in coverage and always seems to know exactly when the ball is arriving so he can knock it away."
Dwight Williams 6-foot-1, 212 pounds LB Serra (2014): With offers from Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Oregon State and UCLA, Williams is on the Rivals250 watch list for the 2014 class. Rivals.com wrote of Williams prior to his junior season, "Williams is undersized but he's impressive in pass coverage and tougher than he's given credit for. Against outstanding older competition Williams was one of the best linebackers at the (Rivals100 Five-star Challenge) and did an admirable job in a tough situation."
Game Prediction: This game looks like the least likely chance for Northern California to pull out a win. Serra averages 418 yards per game (261 on the ground, 157 through the air) with Malik Roberson tallying 1,454 yards and 13 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Jalen Greene is a dual threat signal caller with more than 200 total yards per game. Oakdale is a hard hitting team with a power running game, but how it deals with the athleticism and size of the Cavaliers will be the issue. Serra beat Marin Catholic in 2009 and lost to Folsom in 2010, but doesn't have the same overwhelming talent at wide receiver as those years. Serra wins 28-7 for its second state bowl win.
Division III: Marin Catholic (14-1) vs. Madison (13-1) Saturday at 12:00 PM
Jared Goff 6-foot-4, 190 pounds QB Marin Catholic (2013): Goff is one of the better quarterbacks to come through in the area in recent memories with a very good arm and also good ball skills in the zone read game. He is ranked No. 134 in the country and is headed to Cal.
Gunnar Graham 6-foot-6, 280 pounds OL Marin Catholic (2013): Graham has good size who moves well in space on the offensive line. He has room to add more weight in college and has seen time on the defensive line. Graham is a 3-star commit to Colorado, which remains firm after the hiring of Mike MacIntyre.
Alex Poksay 6-foot-1, 206 pounds LB Marin Catholic (2013): An under the radar linebacker, Poksay is a good tackler in the middle of Marin Catholic's defense. A big performance on Saturday could help bolster his recruiting, which includes some preliminary interest from local programs.
Morgan Mahalak 6-foot-3, 190 pounds QB Marin Catholic (2014): He will line up at wide receiver on Saturday, but is a future Division I level quarterback in the wings. He is a good athlete who has already picked up an offer from South Alabama.
Pierre Cormier 5-foot-10, 180 pounds RB Madison (2013): With at least a dozen offers to choose from, Cormier decided on Arizona back in August and followed it up with more than 2,000 yards this year. The 3-star back is No. 29 running back in the country.
Lee Walker 6-foot-0, 160 pounds ATH Madison (2013): The second of Madison's Arizona commits, Walker is the leading receiver with 634 yards and 11 touchdowns and is a 3-star prospect. A player with really good speed, his future is as a slot receiver for the Wildcats.
Michael Garner 5-foot-10, 155 pounds WR Serra (2014): He has picked up an early offer from Arizona and was second on the team in yards (356) and touchdowns (five). Garner is another slot type receiver and athlete Marin Catholic will have to deal with.
Game Prediction: This is another one possession game with both teams looking to spread it out. Madison sophomore quarterback Kareem Coles is the second leading rusher as Madison has run it 415 times to 177 passes. This should be a similar game to Marin Catholic's section title game against El Cerrito with the hard running of Akili Terry and winning the turnover battler being the difference. This is a much different Wildcats' team than the one which traveled to Carson in 2009. Marin Catholic becomes the second team to beat Madison in the state bowl games (Escalon did it in 2010) by the score of 35-31.
Division IV: Central Catholic (13-2) vs. Santa Fe Christian (11-3) Friday at 4:00 PM
John Mundt 6-foot-5, 235 pounds TE Central Catholic (2013): Mundt is a big tight end with good hands who can gain separation down the field. The Oregon commit is also a dangerous rush end for Central Catholic. He is a 3-star prospect and the No. 21 tight end in the country.
Game Prediction: Central Catholic has a two-headed run attack with Ray Lomas and Rey Vega, a serviceable passing game and gets good pressure from the edges on defense. The Raiders have more size up front than the usual Division IV team and have won all five postseason games by at least 19 points. Santa Fe Christian is averaging about 300 rushing yards per game, led by junior Tony Miro with 1,133 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Eagles haven't played a team close to the level of Central Catholic this year. The Raiders get their first state bowl win in their second appearance with a 42-21 win.