About the only suspense here were the logistics.
Where to play the Northern California Regional football games with myriad bids to consider?
On Sunday, the state's 10 high school section commissioners met to decide regional teams and locations, and two area powerhouses in Folsom and Del Oro that were expected to advance did so.
The prestigious Open game, designed to pit the best against the best, will again feature the most decorated team in the country in De La Salle of Concord against Folsom, winners of three Sac-Joaquin Section titles since 2010 and a 2010 state CIF Bowl win. The game will be Saturday at Diablo Valley College, a virtual home venue for De La Salle.
It's also a homecoming of sorts for Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson, who played his College Park High games at Diablo Valley College and who was a DVC Viking lineman in 1987 and '88. He won't need directions to the old place.
Del Oro, a nine-time section title winner and a CIF State Bowl team in 2011, will take on Serra of San Mateo in the Division I game at San Jose City College on Friday. Del Oro has won 11 consecutive games, last losing to De La Salle, which opened the season with a 21-14 victory over Serra.
Folsom (14-0) is 28-1 the last two seasons, falling only to De La Salle (13-0) in last year's NorCal Open at Sacramento State, located just a few miles down Highway 50 from Folsom. Unbeaten against NorCal foes since 1991, a span of 250 games, the Spartans went on to win their fourth successive CIF State Open title and finish nationally ranked No. 1 for the 10th time. De La Salle is fresh off its 22nd consecutive North Coast Section Divsion I title and 27th out of 28 years. It has been named state-ranked No. 1 by Cal-Hi Sports 17 times since 1992. Folsom has been NorCal-ranked No. 2 all season behind De La Salle and state-ranked No. 3, too.
The game will pit Folsom's prolific offense led by Jake Browning (state-record 5,393 yards, state-record 74 touchdown passes) after he tossed five touchdowns, four to Troy Knox, and ran for two to beat Oak Ridge 49-17 on Saturday in the section D-I finals.
Serra (11-2) is coming off its first Central Coast Section Open championship and won the West Catholic Athletic League, one of the top leagues in the state, under veteran coach Patrick Walsh, a former De La Salle star running back and assistant coach.
Del Oro (12-2) rallied from 19-0 down in the fourth quarter to beat Elk Grove in the section D-II finals as Michael Moore tossed three late touchdowns, two to Trey Udoffia and the game winner with just over a minute to play to Dylan Kainrath.
The Sac-Joaquin Section earned four NorCal berths in another show of staying power.
Said section commissioner Pete Saco on Saturday, "our section speaks for itself. We have great football here."
In the NorCal D-II game, Manteca (13-1) will face Enterprise (12-0) of the Northern Section at Lincoln of Stockton on Saturday. Manteca beat Sacramento in the section D-III title at Lincoln.game. Teams can move up in division in the NorCal and State games as enrollments vary drastically across the state.
The section's other team still alive is defending NorCal and state champion Central Catholic of Modesto. The Raiders (13-1) will play McClymonds of Oakland (10-2) in the D-IV NorCal game at Lincoln of Stockton on Friday.
In the D-III game, El Cerrito (11-2) will play Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton (12-1) at De Anza High on Saturday.
A year ago, all of the NorCal Regional games were played outside the Bay Area, which infuriated Bay Area teams, fans and administrators. The Bay Area now hosts the Open, D-I and D-III games, and grumbling is reversed, but CIF officials said Sunday afternoon that they are fully confident in the venues.
Diablo Valley College has hosted quite a few high-profile prep events with De La Salle, be it for national showdowns or big rivalry games. DVC seats 6,500, and the CIF will add additional seats if the fan ticket sales warrant as such.
San Jose City College seats up to 8,000, which seems plenty for Del Oro and Serra. The CIF absolutely wants fans to be able to get in, those affiliated with the participating teams and general fans curious about the product.
Folsom (14-0) vs.De La Salle-Concord (13-0) at Diablo Valley College, 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Del Oro (12-2) vs. Serra-San Mateo (11-2) at San Jose City College, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Enterprise-Redding (12-0) vs. Manteca (13-1) at Lincoln HS-Stockton, 7:30 p.m. Saturday
El Cerrito (12-2) vs. Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton (12-1) at De Anza High, 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Central Catholic-Modesto (13-1) vs. McClymonds-Oakland (10-2) at Lincoln-Stockton, 7:30 p.m. Friday
- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
- On podcast: ESPN1320.net