Here's our final Sacramento Bee football rankings. We go with a Top 20 in the print edition of The Bee but go with a Top 25 here because it's football, it's fun and there's endless space to do so.
Folsom finishes No. 1 because it roared to a 14-0 start, beat a superb Elk Grove team for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship and was the overwhelming pick to represent the region in the first Northern California Regional Open game. That means De La Salle and Folsom were considered the two best teams in Northern California, and media polls everywhere showed that, too.
And this: there isn't a single NorCal team that has beaten De La Salle since 1991. That's a remarkable run of 238 games without a defeat against the North. I fielded quite a bit of Twitter, Facebook, texts and e-mails notes over the weekend that Granite Bay would beat De La Salle. False start, friends.
Hey, we all know Granite Bay is loaded, on a roll, superbly coached, anchored by a great offensive line, has a 4-headed backfield machine in Grant Caraway, Taft Partridge, Tony Ellison and John Cooley. But again, De La Salle hasn't lost to a NorCal team since before the Internet, before the bubble screen and when the first Bush was in office, saying, "Read my lips. No more taxes."
And no more De La Salle losses to NorCal competition, apparently.
In polling 15 media and coaches on Saturday night, it was overwhelmingly unanimous that De La Salle would've beaten Granite Bay this weekend. The key theme was that De La Salle is so dominant as a defensive team, particularly against the run.
How good is Granite Bay? Better than perhaps the rest of the Bay Area. At least at this point. Yes, the Grizzlies lost to Pittsburg in September on a 2-point conversion, and yes De La Salle shelled Pittsburg 35-13 in the playoffs, en route to its on-going record 21st consecutive North Coast Section championship. Again, it's De La Salle.
It's important to understand also that Granite Bay battered St. Ignatius-San Francisco 45-17 in the NorCal Division I game, and that's the same SI team that beat Bellarmine-San Jose 13-10 in overtime for the Central Coast Section Open title. And that's the same Bellarmine team that got hammered by De La Salle 41-7 in a season opener.
Bellarmine was NorCal ranked in the top 5 all season by MaxPreps. So was Serra-San Mateo, which beat Buhach Colony on a 2-point conversion run this season. Buhach lost to Folsom in the D-II section playoffs 49-22, and it wasn't even that close. It was 49-6 at one point before Folsom emptied the bench.
Just in comparing scores and by watching up close and in person, we can see that De La Salle stands alone. Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper never bets against his Grizzlies, but last week he said that De La Salle has no equal in the North, saying, "They're at a completely different level."
Bottom line: Folsom and Granite Bay are a fine 1-2 to cap the final Bee rankings, and likely No. 2 and 3 in the final MaxPreps NorCal rankings.
What's more, Granite Bay isn't finished. The Grizzlies have an excellent chance to win the region's third CIF State Bowl when it takes on Long Beach Poly on Friday in Carson, joining Grant in 2008 and Folsom in 2010.
And one final thought: Granite Bay and Folsom will meet in Week 1 next season in what very well could be a meeting of The Bee's top two ranked teams. Unless we can drum up a Sunday pick-up game rumble in the coming weeks, that game will have to do.
1. Folsom 14-1
Lost to De La Salle in NorCal Open; Jake Browning set state single-season passing mark; he and an army return.
2. Granite Bay 12-3
Grizzlies won first NorCal D-I Regional; have won 11 straight but badly crave 12 straight now.
3. Oak Ridge 12-2
Lost only to Folsom and Granite Bay; DE Zack Claiborne led the state with 25 sacks.
4. Franklin 12-1
Lost to Granite Bay in Section D-I semis; excelled work by coach Johnson & company.
5. Elk Grove 12-2
Lost to Franklin & Folsom; 1-2 RB combo of Robert Frazier and Wadus Parker fun to watch.
6. Burbank 12-1
Lost to Oak Ridge in D-I semis; lots of stars back for coach Heff and crew.
7. Del Oro 7-6
Recovered from 0-4 start; beat Yuba City, St. Mary's in playoffs.
8. Vista del Lago 12-2
Breakout year for coach Jones; QB Jimison returns.
9. Placer 11-1
Bid farewell to all-time program great Vanderdoes; fell to Escalon in D-IV playoffs.
10. Center 10-3
Amazing season for Cougars who fielded best team in school hstory.
11. Inderkum 10-3
Lost in final seconds to Vista in D-III; lot of key players will return for another run.
12. Del Campo 9-3
Two losses to Elk Grove; won the Capital Valley Conference; lot of guys return.
13. Antelope 10-2
Best team in brief school history with a host of talent coming back.
14. Whitney 8-3
Lost thriller to Del Campo in D-II; close losses to Rocklin and Antelope, too.
15. Pleasant Grove 7-5
Battled injuries but were typically tough; crushing loss in coach Cattolico stepping down.
16. Cosumnes Oaks 9-3
Close D-III loss to American Canyon; a wealth of talent returns.
17. Yuba City 9-2
Best team since 1987 Honkers outfit; lost to Placer and Del Oro.
18. Rocklin 5-6
QB Logan Webb leads an army of returners next season; lost to Antelope in D-II.
19. El Camino 8-3
Entire offensive line among key talents who return for bounce-back Eagles.
20. Grant 5-6
Emitional season amid personal loss; may return more talent than anyone.
21. Rio Linda 8-3
Lost D-II opener at Vacaville; lot of key players back for another run.
22. Capital Christian 10-2
Best start in school history ended with loss to 10-1 Los Banos.
23. Nevada Union 5-6
Battled Franklin for a half before falling 35-14 in D-I opener; top teams always return.
24. Foresthill 10-1
Play for D-VI title on Saturday after losing title last year.
25. Highlands 6-5
Lost to top-seeded D-V Waterford; other losses to larger schools.
Others: Ponderosa (6-5), Monterey Trail (5-5), Christian Brothers (6-5), Sacramento (8-3), Bear River (8-3), Dixon (9-2), Lincoln (5-5), Rosemont (6-5), River Valley (6-5), Davis (5-5).
- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
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