Bay Area high school football 2022: NorCal regional championship weekend preview

It’s regional championship weekend in the state of California for the very few high school football teams that are still playing.

In total, 11 teams from the Bay Area News Group’s coverage area qualified by winning section championships.

NorCal’s top team, Serra, has a bye to the state Open Division championship game, which will take place against St. John Bosco-Bellflower at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo on Dec. 10 as the last of five state finals played there over two days.

Will De La Salle, Pittsburg, McClymonds and San Ramon Valley join Serra in Mission Viejo?

And which of the lower-division teams will advance to play state title games at home on Dec. 10?

If you haven’t done so, please subscribe here for digital access all school year long. Our high school coverage does not stop when football season ends.

Here’s a preview of this weekend’s games:


De La Salle (9-3) at Folsom (12-1) in 1-AA North championship game, 7:30 p.m.: De La Salle got the rematch it wanted, another game against an opponent that won on the road over the Spartans in this round last season and again in September. De La Salle has battled through injuries all season, including two more in the North Coast Section Open Division final against Pittsburg two weeks ago when tight end/defensive end Cooper Flanagan, a Notre Dame commit, and lineman Derek Thompson were unable to finish. Coach Justin Alumbaugh anticipates both to be available Friday after the team had last weekend off. The Spartans did not have defensive tackle Chase Tofaeono and lineman Cooper Powers when they lost to Folsom 24-20 on Sept. 23. Both are back now. Folsom, meanwhile, lost another top-level talent when receiver Rico Flores Jr., who also is committed to Notre Dame, suffered a broken foot in a Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal against Central Catholic-Modesto. The Sacramento-area power lost star tight end Walker Lyons to a broken leg in the season opener. Folsom was tied 6-6 in the fourth quarter last week against Oak Ridge before pulling away for a 23-13 victory in the SJS Division I final. De La Salle held off Pittsburg 30-23 in the NCS Open final on Nov. 18. DLS had won five in a row over Folsom before losing to the Bulldogs 28-27 in the Division 1-AA regional last season in Concord. If Folsom wins Friday, it would join St. John Bosco-Bellflower as the only teams to win three consecutive games over DLS in the MaxPreps era (2004 to present).’s computer picks Folsom, 28-20. The winner will play Lincoln-San Diego or Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth in the 1-AA state final on Dec. 9 in Mission Viejo. — Darren Sabedra

CONCORD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 2: De La Salle's Cooper Flanagan (17) sacks Serra quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) during the third quarter of their game at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. Serra defeated De La Salle 24-21. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)De La Salle’s Cooper Flanagan sacks Serra quarterback Maealiuaki Smith on Sept. 2. Serra won 24-21. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Lemoore (12-1) at McClymonds (11-1) in 2-AA North championship game, 7:30 p.m.: A year after winning 3-A regional and state championships, McClymonds was placed in a higher division this time around. The Oakland powerhouse played a brutally challenging non-league schedule that included North Coast Section Division I champion Pittsburg, NCS Division II champ San Ramon Valley and Central Coast Section Division II winner Bellarmine. Mack’s only loss was on the road to Pittsburg. As usual, Mack cruised through the Oakland Athletic League. The team won every league game by at least 30 points and beat Castlemont 45-12 to grab its 13th consecutive Oakland Section championship trophy. Now Mack has its sights on a sixth NorCal title and a shot at capturing a fifth state crown. Jaivian Thomas and Ferrari Miller Jr. lead a Mack offense that has averaged 336 rushing yards per game and 13.3 yards per carry this season. Thomas has rushed for 2,149 yards and 25 touchdowns and Miller has added 948 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. They will probably need to be extremely productive Friday because Lemoore, the Central Section Division II champion, has averaged 48.8 points per game. Lemoore features a balanced offense, with Andrew Moench, Anthony Garcia and quarterback Ty Pele each having rushed for 12 touchdowns. Pele has thrown for 36 touchdowns, too. He’ll be up against a Mack defense that has 37 sacks this season. Lemoore has shut out three opponents but gave up 46 points to Central Valley Christian in a section final last weekend and 42 in an early-season loss to Clovis West.’s computer predicts Lemoore will beat Mack 44-34. The winner will play Downey or Mater Dei Catholic-Chula Vista on Dec. 9 at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. — Joseph Dycus

OAKLAND - McClymonds haflback Jaivian Thomas runs with the football. McClymonds and Castlemont played in the Oakland Section championship game on Saturday, Nov. 26 2022 in Oakland Calif. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)McClymonds tailback Jaivian Thomas runs with the football in the Oakland Section championship game against Castlemont on Saturday at Fremont High. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

Grant-Sacramento (10-2) at El Cerrito (13-0) in 3-AA North championship game, 7:30 p.m.: There is a saying in football that offense entertains but defense wins. Visiting Grant, the Division III Sac-Joaquin Section champion, averages 51 points per game. El Cerrito, which won Division III in the North Coast Section, allows seven points per contest. So which way will it go Friday night? Will El Cerrito win a defensive struggle? Could this game turn into a high-scoring affair, with the winner needing at least 35 points? Neither Grant nor El Cerrito stuck to their usual scripts during their section title tilts. Grant edged Christian Brothers-Sacramento 20-12. The Gauchos beat Windsor 34-27. Grant has earned a lot of attention in the state capitol this season. The Pacers went from one forfeit win last year to raising a championship flag. They have surpassed 75 points three times, including an 84-0 rout of Kennedy-Sacramento. Two players to watch are Alani Noa, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound offensive lineman who is headed to USC, and junior safety/wide receiver Kingston Lopa, whose 10 offers include Oregon, USC, Washington, LSU and Oklahoma, according to 247 sports. Lopa and senior Kyrell Goss-Pruitt had combined for 74 catches and 1,744 yards through 11 games. They each had 15 TD catches. QB Joseph McCray needed only 13 passing yards against Christian Brothers to surpass 3,000 for the season. They will face a loaded El Cerrito secondary that includes Warren Smith (Washington State commit), junior Kamani Jackson (San Jose State offer) and safety Jermaine Hargraves, who is hearing from Colorado, Hawaii and Eastern Washington. Gauchos RB Tony McAdoo had a huge game against Windsor, collecting 267 yards and three touchdowns. This should be a very good game, with a lot of big-time college talent to keep an eye on.’s computer is taking Grant, 35-34. — Mike Lefkow

El Cerrito quarterback Michael Vanhook (12) falls backwards into the end zone to score a touchdown against Windsor in the second quarter of their NCS Division III Championship game at Benicia High School in Benicia, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. El Cerrito defeats Windsor 34-27. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)El Cerrito quarterback Michael Vanhook (12) falls backward into the end zone to score a touchdown against Windsor on Friday at Benicia High. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Santa Teresa (8-5) at Palo Alto (7-6) in 6-AA North championship game, 7:30 p.m.: A few eyebrows were raised Sunday when the CIF regional matchups were set with the Saints visiting Palo Alto. It’s likely both teams expected to be on the road, given their overall records. Also, didn’t Santa Teresa deserve the home game in this matchup since it was the Division IV Central Coast Section champion and Palo Alto was D-V? CIF officials intended to make the Saints the home team until they learned Santa Teresa’s stadium was unavailable Friday night. Santa Teresa will be home for a state championship game on Dec. 10 if it beats Palo Alto. The Saints were 5-5 in the regular season but feasted on three 9-1 teams, all from B leagues, in the D-IV playoffs. Santa Teresa is in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Mt. Hamilton, which is an A league. Palo Alto was 4-6 in the regular season, but it’s also in an A league, the Santa Clara Valley Atheltic League De Anza. The Vikings were the No. 2 seed in Division V, the lowest bracket in the CCS playoffs. The other seven teams in that division were all from B and C leagues. Ikinasio Tupou, Palo Alto’s 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior offensive tackle, will be the most-watched player on the field Friday night, at least among college scouts. He already has offers from Cal, San Jose State and Washington, according to The Vikings have a fairly balanced offense, but running backs Jack Newman and Jeremiah Madrigal are their go-to players, especially with Tupou blocking. Newman and Madrigal have 1,610 yards and 19 TDs between them. Santa Teresa favors the run, with Joshua Reyes doing much of the work. Saints coach Steve Pappin calls for the run on about two of every three plays.’s computer picks Santa Teresa, 22-21. — Mike Lefkow

Santa Teresa quarterback Jayden Arevalo (4) throws a pass in the fourth quarter of their Central Coast Section Division IV football championship football game against Branham High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)Santa Teresa quarterback Jayden Arevalo throws a pass in the fourth quarter of their Central Coast Section Division IV football championship football game against Branham High in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) 


Manteca (11-1) at Pittsburg (11-2) in 1-A North championship game, 6 p.m.: Win or lose, this one figures to be emotional for retiring Pittsburg coach Victor Galli. In his final game at Pirates Stadium after 21 seasons leading the storied program, Galli will either celebrate a berth in a state final next week in Mission Viejo or have his coaching career end. Pittsburg reached a second consecutive regional, bouncing back from a loss to De La Salle in the North Coast Section Open Division final on Nov. 18 to beat Clayton Valley 13-3 last week for the section’s Division I crown. Manteca won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title with a 51-48 victory over Granite Bay. The high-scoring affair was nothing new to the champion Buffaloes. They average 52.4 points per game behind running backs Blake Nichelson and Bryson Davis and QB Hudson Wyatt. Nichelson has rushed for 1,547 yards and 26 TDs, Davis has run for 1,122 yards and 15 TDs and Wyatt has passed for 1,228 yards and 20 TDs. Nichelson has committed to Florida State as a linebacker. Pittsburg’s defense was spectacular last week as Odera Okaka led the way with 10 tackles, a sack and four quarterback hurries. If the game Saturday is high-scoring, Pittsburg counters with QB Jaden Rashada, a Florida commit, and standout receivers Rashid Williams, Khai Taylor and Zack Card. Manteca is making its sixth appearance in a regional but continues to seek its first victory. The Buffaloes lost to Enterprise-Redding in 2013, Menlo-Atherton in 2016, St. Francis in 2017, McClymonds in 2019 and Wilcox last season. Pittsburg is 1-1 in regionals, both at the 1-A level. The Pirates won at Granite Bay in 2017 and lost at Liberty-Bakersfield last season.’s computer predicts Manteca to win Saturday, 34-31. — Darren Sabedra

BRENTWOOD - Pittsburg defensive back Giomani Enea holds up the championship banner after the game. Clayton Valley and Pittsburg played in the NCS championship game on Friday, Nov. 25 2022 in Brentwood Calif. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)Pittsburg defensive back Giomani Enea holds up the NCS championship banner after his team beat Clayton Valley on Friday at Heritage High in Brentwood. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

Marin Catholic (13-0) at San Ramon Valley (11-2) in 2-A North championship game, 6 p.m.: San Ramon Valley will try to end an undefeated team’s season for the second week in a row. In the North Coast Section Division II final last week, the Wolves intercepted three passes in a 35-21 victory over Campolindo, which brought a 12-0 record into the title game. Marin Catholic, as expected, powered its way to the NCS Division IV championship, beating Newark Memorial, Del Norte and Cardinal Newman by double-digit margins. Because the NCS’s playoff format is a mix between new-school competitive equity and old-school enrollment classifications, Marin Catholic was placed in a low division even though only De La Salle and Pittsburg were rated higher by’s computer among teams within the section. The CIF uses competitive equity for its regional matchups. So instead of playing down in Division IV, Marin Catholic was moved up. It will have to find a way to slow down SRV’s Luke Baker, who has thrown for 43 touchdowns. Nick Rivera has run for more than 100 yards in each of the past two games, providing balance to the Wolves’ attack as the Danville school has advanced to a regional for the first time. Marin Catholic, which won the Division 4-AA state title in 2021, has allowed just under 10 points per game this season. Last week, the Wildcats held Cardinal Newman to 61 yards, all but eight coming late in the fourth quarter. “The defense is the heart and soul of this team. It’s our motor,” Marin Catholic defensive end Daniel O’Leary told the Marin Independent Journal after the victory.’s computer predicts SRV to prevail 31-28. The winner will play Granite Hills-El Cajon or Etiwanda on Dec. 10 at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. — Joseph Dycus 

San Ramon Valley senior Caleb Padridruns in an interception to start the second half against Campolindo at Dublin High School in Dublin, CA on Friday, November 25, 2022. San Ramon Valley defeated Campolindo 35-21 for the NCS Division II Championship. (Don Feria for Bay Area News Group)San Ramon Valley senior Caleb Padrid returns an interception to start the second half against Campolindo in the NCS Division II final at Dublin High on Friday. (Don Feria for Bay Area News Group) 

Vanden-Fairfield (12-1) vs. Bellarmine (7-6) in 3-A North championship game at San Jose City College, 6 p.m.: Bellarmine is back in a regional for the first time since prevailing at Folsom for the 1-AA title in 2015. The Bells reached this point by winning playoff games on the road over Menlo-Atherton and Wilcox and beating St. Ignatius 21-14 at San Jose City College for the Central Coast Section Division II crown. Vanden is the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division IV champ. It beat Capital Christian-Sacramento 10-6 in the final to qualify for a second consecutive regional. Last season, Vanden routed Windsor 56-28 in the 3-AA regional and then scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to erase a 13-point deficit and beat Aquinas-San Bernardino 14-13 in the 3-AA state title game, the last on a 4-yard pass by Tre Dimes with about a minute to go. Dimes is now a senior. His favorite targets are Brayden Chavez, Jaxon Clark and Simeon Wydermyer. Elijah Fisherman leads the ground attack. Bellarmine was superb defensively in its section final, with Jae’Von Reels leading the way with 3.5 sacks and Braden Cantlen forcing a late fumble that led to Ben Pfaff’s winning touchdown run.’s computer projects Bellarmine to advance, 21-12. — Darren Sabedra

Bellarmine's Jacob Tatom (24) celebrates after winning against St. Ignatius College Preparatory in the fourth quarter during the the Central Coast Section Division II championship at San Jose City College in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)Bellarmine’s Jacob Tatom celebrates after the Bells beat St. Ignatius in the CCS Division II final at San Jose City College on Saturday. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

Menlo School (9-5) at San Marin (11-2) in the 4-A North championship game, 6 p.m.: Menlo coach Todd Smith said his small roster of about 30 players has gotten healthier as the season has gone on, and that improved vitality coincided with the team’s run to the Central Coast Section Division III title after a 5-5 regular season. The Knights’ 42-6 rout over Hollister on Saturday in Salinas was the program’s first CCS crown. Jake Bianchi threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns and Ty Richardson ran for two touchdowns to lead the way. San Marin won 5-AA regional and state championships last season. The Novato school intercepted five passes last week in a 42-28 victory over Miramonte for the North Coast Section Division V title. Charlie Singleton has rushed for 1,033 yards and 13 touchdowns for San Marin this season. He had two TDs in the NCS final. Junior QB Dominic Ingrassia passed for 2,443 yards and 33 TDs this season. Five of his teammates have at least six touchdown receptions, led by Ben Langford’s nine.’s computer projects San Marin to win 24-21. The winner will play host to Laguna Beach or Granada Hills Charter on Dec. 10. — Joseph Dycus

ATHERTON, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Menlo School's Ty Richardson (3) runs a kick-off return back for a touchdown against Half Moon Bay's Ayden Courtney (5) in the third quarter of a Central Coast Section Division II first-round playoff game in Atherton, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. Menlo School defeated Half Moon Bay 47-28. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)Menlo School’s Ty Richardson, shown here in a file photo, helped lead the Knights to the CCS Division III title. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

Pinole Valley (8-4) at Mendota (9-5) in the 7-AA CIF state championship game, 6 p.m.: This will serve as the Division 7-AA state title game since there were no regional matchups. For those unfamiliar with Mendota High, it’s a public school in Fresno County with between 850 and 900 students. The football team has won three Central Section titles under Robert Mejia, who became the head coach in 2011. After the Aztecs captured Division VI championships in Mejia’s first two seasons, they were featured in a touching story by ESPN. Many of the players spend their summers outdoors in temperatures over 100 degrees picking cantaloupe and grapes on farms that surround Mendota. “This is their two-a-days,” Mejia told ESPN. Pinole Valley is playing for its first CIF state football championship after not having won a North Coast Section title since 1979. But the Spartans have a good football history. They won four NCS crowns in five years between 1975-79. Quarterback Gino Torretta won the Heisman Trophy in 1992 at Miami. Pinole Valley and Mendota could produce the fastest game on this weekend’s menu. The Spartans rarely pass. Instead, they rely on a strong running game. Larry McDonald is the lead back with 1,021 yards, Ellis Shamsid-Deen is averaging 18.5 yards per carry and 6-foot-3, 205-pound James Gordon has scored nine TDs, one about every four carries. The defense has allowed only 58 points in their eight wins. Dual-threat QB Cejaa Ceja is Mendota’s most dangerous offensive player with 1,401 yards passing and 791 yards on the ground. The Aztecs run the ball about 75 percent of the time.’s computer is taking Pinole Valley, 26-17. — Mike Lefkow

ALBANY, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 19: Pinole Valley High celebrate their win against St. Mary's High in their North Coast Section semifinal game at Saint Mary's High School on Albany, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)Pinole Valley celebrates its win over St. Mary-Berkeley in the NCS Division VI semifinals on Nov. 19. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

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