By Jeremy Balan
There were several extended discussions during the meeting of the 10 CIF section commissioners to decide the regional football championship matchups on Sunday, but one didn’t even get a vote.
Due to the committee’s selection of De La Salle and Folsom for the Northern California Open Division championship, Granite Bay and St. Ignatius were the only eligible teams left to fill the two slots for the Division I game.
Granite Bay, the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion, and the Wildcats, the Central Coast Section Open Division champion, will face off in the Division I NorCal title game on Friday night at Sacramento State University.
The victor will then face the winner of the Southern California Division I regional game between Long Beach Poly and Clovis North of Fresno in the Division I state championship game.
In the first year of regional championships (since 2006, the CIF has had only state championships, with the committee deciding the best representatives from each division in the north and south to play in one game), St. Ignatius is the only San Francisco high school to play for a regional or state football title. Lincoln is the only other San Francisco high school to play beyond a section championship, when it faced off against McClymonds of Oakland in the first and only TransBay title game in 2007.
“We do understand the significance of that, to represent our school, our league – and it’s a great honor to do,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “We also know that we’re a San Francisco school and we represent high school football in San Francisco. It’s an honor and we take that very seriously. There’s a lot of pride there.”
The Wildcats were the only CCS team selected to participate in a regional game, although Division IV CCS champion Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton was considered an outside contender to qualify for the Division III regional game (section divisions are not always compatible with the CIF bowl divisions). Lincoln, by winning the San Francisco Section title, was eligible for the Division II game, but was not considered a contender.
There are, however, Bay Area representatives in each division.
De La Salle and Folsom headline the slate, while Clayton Valley of Concord will take on Oakdale in Division II, Marin Catholic of Kentfield will face off with Sutter in Division III, and McClymonds will meet Central Catholic of Modesto in Division IV.
Despite the five Bay Area representatives, no NorCal games will be played west of Sacramento or Stockton, an issue that was addressed several times with CIF representatives in a teleconference on Sunday.
According to the CIF, eligible schools were asked to submit potential venues for games and Ron Nocetti, the associate executive director of the organization, hinted that not all schools complied.
“We’re not going to sell out any of the schools, but there was a deadline to submit a venue,” said Nocetti, who is a graduate of Sacred Heart Cathedral. “We even asked them if they were still interested in hosting games after the deadline . . . We’re not faulting any schools or organizations for not submitting . . . but with it being a new process, we’ll look at it and see what works and what didn’t. The schools will probably do the same, see what you guys wrote about and we’ll probably get more submissions next year.”
St. Ignatius athletic director John Mulkerrins admitted that the school did not submit an application to host a game.
“We were thinking about our facility only, not a venue bigger than our own,” Mulkerrins said. “With the seasons crossing over, and soccer and other sports using the field, as well as our capacity, it didn’t seem to make any sense for us to put in as a host site.”
Kezar Stadium, with a capacity near 10,000 would have likely been considered, but similar-sized venues at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill and Dublin High School were not chosen in favor of Sacramento State, Lincoln High School in Stockton and Harrison Stadium in Oroville, which is nearly 70 miles north of Sacramento.
“It’s a difficult situation with games in the Bay Area,” said CIF executive director Roger Blake. “There aren’t high schools or stadiums that can handle the capacity. It’s a difficult task.”
The Wildcats, who have a tradition of winning huge games on the road in recent history, have no qualms with the trip to Sacramento.
“I think our guys are past all that stuff,” Regalia said. “We have a good group of guys who just like playing. Of our 13 games, 10 have been away from home and we understand what it takes to play on the road.”
Full Schedule of Regional Games
De La Salle (Concord) [14-0] vs. Folsom [14-0] @ Sacramento State – Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Narbonne (Harbor City) [14-0] vs. Centennial (Corona) [13-1] @ at Cerritos College – Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
St. Ignatius [10-3] vs. Granite Bay [11-3] @ Sacramento State – Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Long Beach Poly [11-3] vs. Clovis North (Fresno) [12-1] @ Long Beach City College – Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Clayton Valley (Concord) [12-1] vs. Oakdale [13-1] @ Lincoln High School (Stockton) – Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Serra (Gardena) [12-2] vs. Edison (Huntington Beach) [13-1] @ Orange Coast College (Costa Mesa) – Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Marin Catholic (Kentfield) [13-1] vs. Sutter [13-1] @ Harrison Stadium (Oroville) – Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Madison (San Diego) [12-1] @ Monrovia [12-2] – Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
McClymonds (Oakland) [9-3] vs. Central Catholic (Modesto) [12-2] @ Lincoln High School (Stockton) – Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) [10-3] vs. Rio Hondo Prep (Arcadia) [12-1] @ Del Norte High School (San Diego) – Friday, 7:30 p.m.