Here are the top 10 rankings for this division in Northern California by Cal-Hi Sports after all section championships are complete (previous ranking in parentheses; teams with asterisk are ineligible for bowl game):
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 12-1
2. (2) Bellarmine (San Jose) 12-1
3. (4) Granite Bay 12-2
4. (5) Lincoln (Stockton) 11-2*
5. (3) Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 12-2*
6. (7) Serra (San Mateo) 11-2
7. (6) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 10-4
8. (8) Palo Alto 10-3*
9. (9) Bethel (Vallejo) 11-2*
10. (10) Grant (Sacramento) 8-4*
Other section champs also eligible: None.
Case for De La Salle:
1. After Saturday’s 49-13 victory over San Ramon Valley in the North Coast Section Division I final on Saturday, the Spartans have still not lost to a team designated as Northern California by the CIF since 1991. This includes their current streak of 20 straight section titles.
2. De La Salle handed Bellarmine its only loss with a 23-20 win in two overtimes in the first game of the season for both squads.
3. With that win likely putting De La Salle in the Open Division for the third straight year, the race for the NorCal Div. I berth in the state bowls comes down to Bellarmine against Granite Bay.
Case for Bellarmine:
1. This wouldn’t be for the Bells to obviously be in the Open Division but to be ahead of Granite Bay for the Division I bowl.
2. While Granite Bay played a more than solid schedule with wins over Lincoln of Stockton and Pleasant Grove in its final two outings, the team also suffered losses to Vacaville and Del Oro during the season. Maybe the Grizzlies could beat those teams now, but in the rankings’ criteria that puts them too far down to be ahead of Bellarmine.
3. Bellarmine’s only loss was to De La Salle in two overtimes. It’s the closest any NorCal team has come to beating the Spartans since Serra of San Mateo nearly knocked them off in a one-point loss in 2008.
4. In the CCS Open Division final, Bellarmine defeated defending CIF Division I champion Palo Alto 41-13.