Football

NCS football playoffs: Matchups are set. What are the top storylines?

CAMPO VS. SRV: PLAYOFF REMATCH

One year after San Ramon Valley beat Campolindo in the Division II championship game, the teams will meet again in the opening round of the Open/Division I playoffs on Friday at SRV. Both were promoted as a result of the competitive-equity formula that the North Coast Section uses. SRV, which returned numerous players from last season’s section and regional championship team, was a lock to make the playoffs. The only suspense Sunday was whether the Wolves or Pittsburg would receive the No. 2 seed behind De La Salle. SRV had a better computer rating and took De La Salle to overtime before losing to the Spartans last month. SRV was seeded second. Campo entered last weekend on the playoff bubble but secured an at-large spot after rallying in the fourth quarter to stun Acalanes 25-24 on Friday, an outcome that gave the Cougars a share of their league title. Campo coach Kevin Macy, who has long made known his displeasure with competitive equity, understands the challenges that the top division will present for his team. “This was our championship,” Macy said after the dramatic victory Friday. “If we do get in, we’ll say all right. I think we’ll just go to show North Coast that they’ve got to scrap the competitive equity format.” Whether SRV buys what Macy is selling remains to be seen. Campo beat SRV 17-14 in a Division II semifinal in 2021 en route to the championship before losing to the Wolves 35-21 in the final last year. — Darren Sabedra

LIBERTY NOT HAPPY ABOUT BEING LEFT OUT

Liberty is the 13th-best team in the NCS, according to CalPreps’ computer rating. So how did the Lions miss the seven-division, 55-team section playoffs? Liberty went 7-3, with losses to powerhouses San Ramon Valley, Pittsburg and Los Gatos. A similar resume last season was enough for Liberty to receive the No. 4 seed in Open/Division I. Not so, this time. With 11 teams competing for eight spots, Liberty was the best of the schools left out. League champions Pittsburg, Amador Valley and James Logan locked up three spots. De La Salle, which receives its league’s automatic berth, took another. San Ramon Valley is the second-best NCS team, per calpreps.com. It received a spot, as did Clayton Valley, California and Campolindo, which are ranked higher than Liberty. That said, the result did not sit well with Lions coach Mike Cable. “We’re frustrated and upset, to say the least,” Cable told the Bay Area News Group. “It’s just sad for the seniors to all of a sudden be told, ‘No, we’re not going to be going on despite our record and despite what we were able to accomplish.’” — Joseph Dycus

SRV SEEDED SECOND. IS IT BETTER TO BE THIRD?

San Ramon Valley nearly made history last month, coming oh-so-close to becoming the first team from the NCS to beat De La Salle in 32 years. The Wolves went on to finish 9-1 and were ranked 23rd on Sunday morning by calpreps.com, four spots behind De La Salle and eight spots ahead of Pittsburg. The NCS selection committee seeded SRV second, setting up the possibility of a rematch against De La Salle for the section’s Open Division title in the second week of the playoffs. If SRV were to lose that game, the Wolves would then play for the section’s Division I championship in the third week of the playoffs, presumably against No. 3 seed Pittsburg. Who would have the advantage in that one? The team coming off a physical grinder against De La Salle or the team that did not play De La Salle? The winner of both championship games advances to a regional. The loser of the Division I title game goes home. — Darren Sabedra

WHY NO. 5 CALIFORNIA WILL HOST NO. 4 CLAYTON VALLEY

California didn’t win its league and lost at home to Clayton Valley Charter 33-24 last month in league play. But when the teams play one another on Friday in the first round of the Open/Division I bracket, fourth-seeded Clayton Valley will be on the road to face the fifth-seeded Grizzlies. Here is why: After the teams’ game last month, Clayton Valley players excessively celebrated in the middle of the field, leading to eight suspensions for the game last week against De La Salle (48-0 CVC defeat) and the loss of a home game Friday. The suspended players will return for the playoffs. “It was very uncharacteristic,” Clayton Valley coach Nick Tisa said on Sunday.  “They were on the 50, waving. It was inappropriate gestures that did not represent the Clayton Valley program in a positive way.” The winner Friday will advance to play third-seeded Pittsburg or sixth-seeded Amador Valley in the semifinals. — Darren Sabedra

BIGGEST MISMATCHES

Because the NCS divisions are set before the season, a slew of inevitable blowouts populate the first round in each of the seven brackets. No bracket showcases more than Division IV. No. 1 San Marin is ranked 541 spots ahead of No. 8 Kennedy-Fremont in CalPreps.com’s ranking. No. 2 Acalanes will play Mt. Diablo, which is 550 spots behind the Lafayette school. In Division II, No. 1 El Cerrito is ranked 392 spots above No. 8 seed Berkeley. In Division V, No. 1 seed Miramonte will play host to San Rafael, which is 243 spots behind the Mats in calpreps.com’s ratings. Marin Catholic, which crushed Newark Memorial 69-0 in the first round of D-IV last season, was moved up to D-III. But a running clock victory is still probable. The Wildcats’ opening game is against a Bishop O’Dowd team it routed 52-0 this season. — Joseph Dycus

ODDS AND ENDS

De La Salle has won 30 consecutive NCS championships, last losing to Pittsburg in a 1991 final, and 39 section titles overall.

Acalanes, seeded second in Division IV, could get a rematch in the final against top-seeded San Marin. The North Bay school beat Acalanes 27-20 in a season opener.

Mt. Diablo’s Herschel Turner is 43 yards shy of 3,000 rushing yards for the season. The Red Devils visit Acalanes in the first round on Friday.

— Last year, El Cerrito beat Windsor for the Division III championship. If they meet again in this year’s playoffs, it will be for the D-II title. El Cerrito is seeded No. 1, Windsor No. 2.

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