December 8, 2011
Prep football notes on bowls, conspiracy talk, De La Salle, recruiting

Some football news and notes to ponder...

* Enrollment sizes - If you think enrollment figures for playoff teams - D-III in section play, D-II in bowl play - causes confusion and chaos in the Sac-Joaquin Section, consider Southern California. With considerably more schools - 590 in the Southern Section alone - enrollments for schools all vary greatly.

For example: this section's D-I enrollment is higher than those in the Bay Area, and yet smaller than those in SoCal. Since all 10 sections cannot come remotely close to a common ground on enrollment breakdowns per division, the sections then must come up with their own enrollment breakdowns. Consider also that there are schools in southern California with enrollment cutoffs for D-II programs that would clearly make them D-I here, and right on down the line in D-II, D-II, etc.

"Every section decides its top three divisions with enrollment because across the state, we couldn't come close to agreeing, there are that many schools (and differences in enrollment)," section commissioner Pete Saco said.

* Opt this - As for the discussion and conspiracy theorists who insist that schools like Del Oro lobby, beg, plead and petition to move up or down in division each season - been flooded with such talk all week - Saco said that simply is not true.

Larger schools in football absolutely cannot "opt up" any season because it feels like it. Saco said he had an area coach call and debate with him about this, to which he replied, "Del Oro did not opt for D-III; you're telling me I don't know our system?"

* Comparing scores - The 10 section commissioners who meet on Dec. 11 to decide the bowl teams will break it down to the finest detail.

One score that will work against Del Oro for an Open-game argument - never mind the fun idea of a rematch with Westlake - is a game Del Oro had no part in. De La Salle beat St. Mary's of Stockton 35-0, and St. Mary's lost to Granite Bay 35-28, and Granite Bay lost to Del Oro 27-23. Translation for some commissioners: DLS is superior to DO based on scores alone.

And one more: Granite Bay beat Pittsburg 27-7 this season, and De La Salle beat Pittsburg 48-0 in the playoffs in a game DLS lead 48-0 at the half. Translation for some commissioners (and not necessarily Pete Saco, who knows better): De La Salle is far greater than any team in this area.

Yes, it's splitting hairs with score breakdowns, but that's how far the numbers will be crunched, with this final belief (agree or disagree): De La Salle is the overwhelming favorite for the Open because it is the best team in the state (according to Cal-Hi Sports, highly regarded for decades; MaxPreps has Westlake state-ranked No. 1).

It will be brought up that De La Salle hasn't lost to a NorCal team in 20 years, that it has won 20 consecutive section titles (with a win Saturday), that it is state-ranked No. 1. As for Granite Bay in the D-I bowl? It will be argued that Bellarmine, ranked third in the state by Cal-Hi, is the choice since the Bells of San Jose have lost only in overtime to De La Salle.

* More DLS - Can it be argued that Del Oro's lone loss in overtime to MaxPreps state-ranked No. 1 and national No. 4 Westlake is more impressive than the 30-6 beat down De La Salle absorbed at Aquinas in Florida this season, an effort DLS coaches called "awful"?

* Absolutely. But it will be argued that DLS had the guts to travel to the East Coast. That's absurd, of course, since not every team has that sort of budget to hop a jet and head east. And there's this prevailing theme from the Bay Area in general, one we've heard for years from players, coaches, administrators: The Bay Area brand of football is superior to Sacramento.

Not true. De La Salle is impressive, particularly it's overall body of work over the years, and it's hard to argue the power and reputation of the West Catholic League that includes Bellarmine, but to say the Bay Area in general is superior to this region is way off base. It's also interesting to note that De La Salle's section has repeatedly voted against NorCal Regional play, as it surely likes its chances to be voted into a bowl each year.

Saco, in facts, says "this section is the best football in Northern California across the board."

* Debunking theories - Heard plenty this week that Saco clearly has an axe to grind with Vacaville and that's why he was glad to eliminate the Bulldogs from bowl consideration. In truth, Saco has had a strong relationship with Vacaville for years, including deep ties to the family of Tom Zunino, the Godfather of Bulldogs football.

Saco bracing Vacaville for not making a bowl, he said, was better than offering false hope. He also noted that not a single Vacaville administrator or coach has expressed anger, nor have they flooded his office with complaints. In short, when Saco gets pushed by the other commissioners to pick a D-II bowl team from his section, he'd go with Del Oro, viewing Del Oro's loss to Westlake more favorably than Vacaville's setback to Marin Catholic.

* Mock bowls - Our good friend Mitch Stephens of MaxPreps presented this scenario of NorCal Regional playoffs if that format were in play this season, with these likely matchups and the winners landing a state bowl:

Open Division - De La Salle vs. Bellarmine
Division I - Granite Bay vs. Serra-San Mateo
Division II - Del Oro vs. Vacaville
Division III - Marin Catholic vs. Palma-Salinas
Small school - Le Grand vs. Bradshaw Christian

* Football recruiting updates - Tight end/linebacker Nate Iese of Sheldon had home visits from recruiters from Oregon State, Washington, Nebraska, San Jose State and UCLA.

Lineman Steve Moore of Elk Grove has been offered by Cal, with UCLA, Boise State and Arizona also very interested. Moore has a recruiting trip to Boise State on Friday and at Cal on Dec. 16. New Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has invited Moore to Tucson, too.
Lineman Arik Armstead of Pleasant Grove had in-home visits with USC, Notre Dame and Auburn and will visit Cal on Saturday. Notre Dame basketball and football coaches have been on campus this week to visit, too.

* All-purpose star Shaq Thompson of Grant said he's greatly intrigued with USC now, in addition to Cal and Washington.

For updates, news, notes, follow Joe Davidson on Twitter: sb_joedavidson
Also: Our SureWest Sports Radio football wrap-up show is Saturday on ESPN1320 from 9-10 a.m. (linked later in the day on as we offer highlights of the season and MVPs and Coaches of the Year by Division.

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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at or

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