For The First Time In Our 11 Year History, A New Team Closes The Season At No. 1 As We Expand Our Final NorCal Football Rankings To 35 •
Typically we close out the season by making our Final NorCal Football Rankings 33 percent bigger and expanding it from our usual Top 20 to a final Top 30. But this year, because we’re just so darn happy that football returned and made it through all 16 weeks, we wanted to honor an extra five teams.
So this year we offer up 35 teams for our Final NorCal Football Rankings. And we even list the first five teams who just missed the cut.
The biggest news of these rankings resides at the top, though. In the history of these rankings, Folsom becomes the first team other than De La Salle to close the year at No. 1. Despite Serra-San Mateo being given NorCal’s CIF Open Division State Bowl slot, we had De La Salle slightly above the Padres based on a comparison of overall resumes. Then Folsom came to Concord and defeated De La Salle 28-27 in the 1-AA NorCal regional, and the top three were pretty much set.
State bowl game results did lead to some slight movement within the rankings. McClymonds-Oakland hopped three spots into the Top 10. The Warriors dominated their 3-A championship game. Also, 5-AA state bowl champion San Marin-Novato went from unranked to debuting at No. 19.
Here we go, enjoy our commentary for all 35 teams and let us know how we did.
Final NorCal Football Rankings
Previous rank in parenthesis / Records are FINAL.
PICTURED AT TOP: Players From No. 1 Folsom Celebrate Their Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championship Win Over No. 5 Rocklin. (Ike Dodson photo)
1. (1) Folsom 11-4
Lost hard-fought 1-AA State Bowl game 32-21 to Cathedral Catholic-S.D., but these are NorCal rankings. And the Bulldogs had five wins over teams from our final Top 7 (two of them avenged earlier losses).
2. (2) De La Salle-Concord 10-3
Spartans finish with wins over three section champions, and their two NorCal losses coming by a combined four points.
3. (3) Serra-San Mateo 11-2
Avenged their lone NorCal loss by topping No. 4 St. Francis to claim their fourth Central Coast Section title since 2016
4. (4) St. Francis-Mountain View 11-1
Began the year with 11 straight wins. Snapped De La Salle’s 318-game NorCal unbeaten streak. WCAL champs. (There are five WCAL programs on this list.)
5. (5) Rocklin 12-1
The 51-48 track meet win (featuring LEGIT track stars) over St. Mary’s-Stockton was easily a Top 3 game this season. But it may have left them out of gas in a 20-3 section final loss to No. 1 Folsom the following week.
6. (6) Pittsburg 9-3
Pirates caught some bad breaks, but were still the clear-cut No. 2 in the North Coast Section by a pretty wide margin. With so many juniors, they will almost certainly open 2022 as a Top 3 team.
7. (7) Jesuit-Sacramento 10-2
Only two losses were to No. 1 Folsom. The second one (22-21) came in a section semifinal and required a last-minute score and 2-point conversation by the Bulldogs.
8. (8) Bellarmine-San Jose 8-4
The Bells announced their presence with authority with a 56-41 win over No. 14 Menlo-Atherton on CCS opening night. It was the first of four wins over teams in our final Top 15.
9. (9) Central Catholic-Modesto 13-2
This team won a Sac-Joaquin Section title, and went unbeaten in a Valley Oak League that placed four teams on this list.
10. (13) McClymonds-Oakland 12-1
Perpetually under appreciated, the Warriors just keep winning state bowl titles. This recent one was a 54-7 obliteration of Birmingham-Van Nuys in the 3-A final.
11. (10) St. Mary’s-Stockton 10-2
All three Rams losses were to Top 10 teams, and the last of the three required an incredulous last-minute comeback by No. 5 Rocklin.
12. (11) Los Gatos 10-1
Undefeated SCVAL De Anza League champions suffered only loss to No. 8 Bellarmine on a last-minute pick six in a CCS Div. I opener.
13. (12) Valley Christian-San Jose 6-5
Only No. 4 St. Francis played No. 3 Serra better than the Warriors; Valley Christian lost to the Padres by 7 and 11. Wins included CCS Div. I champ No. 16 Wilcox-Santa Clara and 4-A State Bowl champ No. 21 Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F.
14. (15) Menlo-Atherton-Atherton 9-3
Bears get a small bump after No. 10 McClymonds stormed its way to a 12-1 finish and dominant state bowl win. M-A was the only team to beat Mack this season.
15. (14) Clayton Valley-Concord 9-4
Ugly Eagles won the EBAL-Mountain title for a second straight season before having season end to No. 6 Pittsburg in the NCS Div. I final.
16. (16) Vanden-Fairfield 13-2
Vikings delivered the program’s first state bowl title in thrilling, come-from-behind fashion. Vanden also won its section and regional titles in convincing fashion.
17. (17) Wilcox-Santa Clara 10-5
The CCS Div. II champions nearly pulled off an epic comeback in the 2-A state bowl final, surrendering the game-winning TD inside the final 30 seconds.
18. (18) Marin Catholic-Kentfield 14-1
Wildcats bounced Central Valley Christian-Visalia 33-13 to win Marin County’s first state bowl championship. MC’s only loss was to No. 10 McClymonds.
19. (NR) San Marin-Novato 13-1
Mustangs claimed Marin County’s second state bowl title just five hours after Marin Catholic — which was the only team that beat them this season (21-14).
20. (19) Granite Bay 8-3
With its defense leading the way, Granite Bay was a force within the Sierra Foothill League once again. Its 31-21 over No. 1 Folsom kept them in the Top 20.
21. (NR) Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F. 8-7
Not only did they win the 4-A state bowl title, but the Irish also had a regular season win over No. 8 Bellarmine and outscored their two CIF opponents by a combined 79-36.
22. (NR) Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park 10-2
Overlooked among some of the top North Bay/Redwood Empire teams this season, the Cougars owned wins against state-champ No. 16 Vanden and NCS Div. II-champ No. 23 Windsor.
23. (20) Windsor 11-2
Paul Cronin’s first year with the Jags ended with an 11-win season and the program’s first section title in a decade.
24. (NR) Manteca 10-4
Fueled by running back Blake Nichelson’s state-best 288 points (on 44 TDs), the Buffaloes stormed to an SJS Div. III crown. (Pssst: Nichelson returns next season)
25. (NR) Menlo School 12-1
Knights won their first 12 games, including victories over eventual state bowl champion Sacred Heart Prep and CCS Div. V champ, Aragon-San Mateo. Only loss was to the much larger No. 17 Wilcox in the CCS Div. II final.
26. (NR) Salinas 8-1
A 35-31 defeat to No. 14 Menlo-Atherton was the Cowboys only loss on the season. They had wins over two other schools that made this list, plus a shutout of Palma-Salinas.
27. (NR) Aptos 8-2
What could this team had done had it not drawn the 8th seed in CCS Div. I and a pairing with No. 4 St. Francis? A state bowl championship in the Div. 3-4 range isn’t unfathomable. Biggest win was 49-0 trouncing of No. 28 Campolindo-Moraga.
28. (NR) Campolindo-Moraga 10-4
Two blowout losses and a quarterback change in the first half of the season didn’t derail this team. Cougars scored back-to-back wins over East Bay Athletic League teams to secure the NCS Div. II crown.
29. (NR) Monterey Trail-Elk Grove 8-6
No SJS school scheduled tougher, and it paid off with an impressive postseason run that included a win over No. 20 Granite Bay.
30. (NR) Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton 8-7
Our last state bowl champion on this list, the Gators won their 5-A title by way of a shutout (16-0). SHP also had an early season win over 4-A state bowl champ, No. 21 Sacred Heart Cathedral.
31. (NR) Kimball-Tracy 10-2
Nicholas Coronado, the state’s leading passer with more than 4,300 yards through the air, led the Jags to wins over two eventual section champs — including No. 24 Manteca.
32. (NR) Oakdale 9-3
Four of the Mustangs nine wins came via shutout, and the defense allowed 7 points or less in two other victories. Oakdale lost the SJS Div. III final to No. 24 Manteca 35-28.
33. (NR) San Benito-Hollister 9-2
Feisty Haybalers land on this list thanks to an early-season win over No. 17 Wilcox. The team’s only losses were to No. 26 Salinas (17-14) and No. 25 Menlo School (45-35).
34. (NR) San Ramon Valley-Danville 8-4
The EBAL-Mountain Division’s second place team was perhaps a fortunate ball bounce or two away from being at least 10 spots higher on this list. The Wolves dropped one-score games to No. 9 Central Catholic, No. 15 Clayton Valley and No. 28 Campolindo (in the NCS semifinals)
35. (NR) Vacaville 8-3
Senior-led Bulldogs get the nod for our final spot by being the only other team to defeat 3-AA state bowl-champion Vanden. And unlike Rancho Cotate, they didn’t need OT to accomplish it.
FIRST FIVE OUT
These were the five programs in closest consideration for inclusion before the final list was set. (Listed alphabetically)
California-San Ramon (8-4)
Elk Grove (8-4)