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State of Play by Mark Tennis    Heading into the closing weeks of the last two California high school football seasons, there weren’t many...

State of Play by Mark Tennis

   Heading into the closing weeks of the last two California high school football seasons, there weren’t many certainties except it was pretty obvious that whichever teams were going to play in the CIF Division II State Bowl game, the Northern California team was going to get steamrolled by a very strong Southern California squad.

   That’s exactly what happened, too. Two years ago, it was Oakdale being outclassed by Serra-Gardena 42-15 while last year Enterprise-Redding was in a similar contest, losing to Chaminade-West Hills 41-9.

   The CIF itself has done nothing to try to change the landscape, but playoff realignment within the CIF Southern Section has dramatically altered it.

   What many NorCal fans don’t realize, the Southern Section has a long history of moving teams into a stronger playoff division once they’ve proven dominant at the lower playoff division.

   This is why many of the vaunted programs that seemed poised to romp over a NorCal team in the Div. II state bowl game in recent years “” whether it’s Chaminade, Serra-Gardena, Edison-Huntington Beach, Hart-Newhall and a few more “” won’t be in the Division II mix this season. All of those teams instead will be trying to win a CIF Southern Section title in Div. I.

   Chaminade and Serra, in fact, will be in the new Mission League with CIFSS regulars such as Alemany-Mission Hills, Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks, Loyola-Los Angeles and Bishop Amat-La Puente. They will need to beat teams like St. John Bosco-Bellflower, Mater Dei-Santa Ana and Centennial-Corona to even get eligible for a CIF state bowl game.

   The CIF San Diego Section also has implemented a change this year in which teams will no longer be pre-determined for its own Open Division. What this means is that strong programs that were in the running for a CIF Div. II South bowl bid “” such as St. Augustine or Cathedral Catholic-San Diego “” will now have to win the section Open Division and then go into the Div. I state bowl field. 

   It’s not like the CIF Southern Section will be devoid of top teams going for the Div. II state bowl bid, but instead of the others mentioned above it may be teams like Redlands East Valley-Redlands or Rancho Verde-Moreno Valley. 

   Still, top NorCal teams that could be going to this year’s CIF Div. II bowl game “” such as Clayton Valley Charter-Concord or even Oakdale again “” won’t be penciled in as an automatic loser. Those teams may not have known this, but their chances of winning a CIF state bowl game were improved greatly by all of these changes hundreds of miles away.

   Yes, there also are equally big changes for NorCal prep football this season “” including Folsom joining the Sierra Foothill League and two-time defending CIF Division IV state champ Central Catholic-Modesto joining the Valley Oak League “” but none of them will impact the possible lineup of teams for the CIF NorCal bowl games.


Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports is the authority in state rankings for football, basketball, baseball and softball, as well as the recognized state record keeper for all high school sports. Contact him at  HYPERLINK “” and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.


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