In The Bee on Tuesday or just after midnight tonight for the late crowd, we will unveil our top 20 regional rankings. We released our Sac-Joaquin Section rankings last week.
Below are the NorCal bowl preseason rankings, by division, as crafted by our good friends from Cal-Hi Sports/ESPN (for more go to espn.go.com/blog/high-school/california).
There are some very interesting changes to the state-bowl process this fall. For starters, there will be a regional playoff game for NorCal and SoCal teams to decide who plays in state-bowl games (unlike before when it came down to the state's 10 section commissioners voting).
And there's a "very, very, very, very good chance a game will be hosted in Sacramento," according to Sac-Joaquin Section Commissioner Pete Saco, who told me Monday that Sacramento State is a big-time player in this race for the D-I regional bid.
We'll know more as the weeks pass and the CIF folks sort out bids. For now, imagine three-time defending Open Bowl champion De La Salle - unbeaten against NorCal competition in regular season and playoffs since 1991 - taking on an area heavyweight such as Grant, Del Oro, Lincoln-Stockton, Elk Grove, Granite Bay, Pleasant Grove, Franklin, Nevada Union or Vacaville in the D-I Regional Bowl.
Before you choke on your whistle and squawk, "Del Oro, Vacaville and Elk Grove ain't D-I, you blithering idiot!" consider this...those teams are indeed classified D-I for NorCal regional bowls from here on out.
Del Oro, the two-time defending D-III section champion, played in the D-II bowl last year but can only qualify for D-I now. Del Oro will compete for a D-II bowl, based on enrollment.
Confusing? A bit, yes, but this much is for sure: it'll be a lot more difficult to reach a state bowl than ever before, and that's not a bad thing at all.
Division I North Bowl Rankings
(with last year's record)
1. De La Salle (Concord) 13-1
2. Bellarmine (San Jose) 12-2
3. Del Oro (Loomis) 13-2
4. Lincoln (Stockton) 11-2
5. Elk Grove 12-1
6. San Ramon Valley (Danville) 10-4
7. Granite Bay 12-2
8. Vacaville 13-1
9. Palma (Salinas) 11-1-1
10. St. Mary's (Stockton) 9-3
11. Serra (San Mateo) 11-2
12. Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 12-2
13. James Logan (Union City) 10-1
14. Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 7-4
15. Grant (Sacramento) 8-4
Bubble Teams: Bethel (Vallejo) 11-2, Buhach Colony (Atwater) 12-1, Folsom 11-3, Foothill (Pleasanton) 4-6, Franklin (Elk Grove) 8-4, Freedom (Oakley) 10-2, Los Gatos 11-1-1, Monte Vista (Danville) 8-5, Palo Alto 10-3, St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 6-6-1,
Defending Champion: De La Salle, which rolled Westlake to three-peat as Open champions.
Division II North
1. Oakdale 13-1
2. Placer (Auburn) 9-3
3. Concord 10-4
4. Casa Grande (Petaluma) 8-4
5. Paradise 11-1
6. Los Banos 10-2
7. Windsor 14-0
8. Foothill (Palo Cedro) 10-2
9. Monterey 9-3
10. Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) 9-3
Bubble Teams: Casa Roble (Orangevale) 10-3, Inderkum (Sacramento) 10-2.
Defending Champion: Del Oro (lost to Helix in bowl game).
Division III North
1. Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 13-1
2. Campolindo (Moraga) 14-1
3. Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 11-1-1
4. Sutter 10-2
5. Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) 9-3
6. Salesian (Richmond) 13-0
7. Carmel 12-1
8. Eureka 8-4
9. Hilmar 12-2
10. Escalon 13-1
Bubble Teams: Aptos 9-2, Colfax 11-1, El Cerrito 7-3-1, Encinal (Alameda) 11-2, Miramonte (Orinda) 10-2, Novato 9-3, Orland 10-1.
Defending Champion: Campolindo (lost to Washington of Easton near Fresno in bowl).
Division IV North
1. Central Catholic (Modesto) 10-3
2. Ferndale 11-2
3. Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 11-1
4. McClymonds (Oakland) 10-2
5. Willows 10-3
6. LeGrand 12-1
7. Modoc (Alturas) 10-3
8. St. Bernard (Eureka) 7-4
9. Valley Christian (Dublin) 9-3
10. Hamilton (Hamilton City) 10-3
Bubble Teams: Berean Christian (Walnut Creek) 8-4, Durham 9-3, Millenium (Tracy) 10-1.
Defending Champion: LeGrand didn't lose last year until the D-IV when the Bulldogs fell to Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth.
-By Joe Davidson
Joe D here, there and everywhere...
On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
On Facebook: sacbeepreps
On the desktop: The SureWest Sports Show at SureWestSports.com with Mike Finnerty.
On the radio: Podcasts with analysis and interviews with co-host Finnerty on The SureWest Sports Show on ESPN1320.net. The show airs live Saturday mornings from 9-10 a.m.
On the air live: Every Tuesday night between 7-7:30 p.m. on KAHI950 or www.kahi.com on The High School Football Show with Pete Dufour and Matt Folsom.
On the tube: Every Friday night to introduce the area's big game for Fox 40's Final Quarter from 11-11:30 p.m. and on Fox40.com