Here are the Top 10 Northern California high school football games to watch in Week 3 of the 2021 spring season (March 25-27).
(Note: Our NorCal list includes all teams and sections north of Kern County.)
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(All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless noted otherwise.)
TOP 10 NORCAL GAMES IN WEEK 2
10. Archbishop Riordan @ St. Ignatius – Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Crusaders debuted last week with a 34-20 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, and now seek revenge over a St. Ignatius squad that beat them 45-0 last year and is yet to play this season. St. Ignatius was third in the deep, brutal West Catholic League last season, and among its returners is RB Jahsai Shannon. The Wildcats are wildcards in their league this season, but with the league split up for just this one season because of the pandemic, they won’t have to face Valley Christian. That means that if they can build momentum for three games, starting this week, the only upset they have to pull off to win the league would be their season finale hosting Serra (San Mateo).
9. Monte Vista @ California (San Ramon) – Saturday at 7 p.m.
Both of these teams are coming off losses against reigning CIFNCS division champions, but the East Bay – Mountain League knows no easy weeks.
Monte Vista is at risk of dropping to 0-3 after losing against Acalanes and De La Salle, and will not see a game against anything less than outstanding team all season long. RB Gavin Cribb has nearly 400 yards of offense through two games, but the Mustangs have given up 96 points through two games, which is mostly a reflection of having faced two of the Bay Area’s top offenses.
California just dropped a nail-biter against reigning North Coast Section Division 2 and CIF 2-AA state champion Clayton Valley Charter, but does have a nice win against Dublin under its belt. Neither of these teams want to fall out of contention for second or third place in the league this week, but one of them likely will.
8. San Ramon Valley @ De La Salle
Speaking of the East Bay – Mountain League, San Ramon Valley now gets its shot at De La Salle. The Spartans looked vulnerable starting off the season in a narrow win against St. Mary’s (Stockton), but hit another gear offensively last week putting up 63 points against Monte Vista.
So, De La Salle looks like De La Salle again, but the Grizzlies are upset-minded after posting one-score wins over Las Lomas and Bishop O’Dowd to start the year. San Ramon Valley is led by QB Jack Quigley, RB Za’Darion Nardi, and one of the state’s best TEs, JP Murphy, who doubles as an impact defensive lineman. The Grizzlies will have to play multiple notches better to even compete with the Spartans, but don’t count out a lot of talented upperclassmen who know that this is one of the best shots they’ll get at a league title.
7. Granite Bay @ Whitney – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
After defeating Christian Brothers in Week 1 and pushing Folsom for four quarters in Week 2, Granite Bay has a chance to make some noise this season in a league where third place would be a major accomplishment. And it was the Grizzlies who took this matchup 23-0 last season. But Whitney looks scary after holding Oak Ridge to 10 points last week, despite only putting up six points of its own. That matchup was the Wildcats’ first of the season too, whereas Oak Ridge had already faced a close test in Folsom. Expect both of these Sierra Foothill League upstarts to come out swinging.
6. Sacred Heart Prep @ King’s Academy
Sacred Heart Prep handed King’s Academy a 24-9 loss last season before the Knights turned it on in the playoffs, and has a mild pre-game edge again this time around as well. So far, the Gators have knocked off Aragon and Burlingame behind strong defense and outstanding QB play from Teddy Purcell. Meanwhile, King’s Academy is yet to play a game, but now has to dive straight into league play in the deep Peninsula – Bay League. Still, don’t count the Knights out.
5. Acalanes @ Campolindo
An undisputed Diablo – Foothill League title for the first time in many years might be within reach for Acalanes, who won this matchup 17-7 last season to force a tie atop the league standings. The Dons are still an underdog to sweep, but they’re off to a hot start behind QB Brady Huchingson and a strong front seven, and have knocked off Monte Vista and Las Lomas by one touchdown each.
Campo is yet to reach peak form after struggling to gain separation from Freedom and Benicia, but still pulled out wins in those games. The Cougars too have a big arm at quarterback with Jacob Griessel, complemented by a consistent producer of short to moderate gains by RB Dillan Thoms. This game should have a championship atmosphere with a league title likely on the line.
4. Monterey Trail @ Clayton Valley Charter – Saturday at 7 p.m.
Unlike the previous games on the list, this one doesn’t have a league title or any other league ramifications on the line, but who doesn’t like a Saturday showcase between two heavyweights? Reigning CIF 2-AA state champ Clayton Valley is still searching for its A-game on offense, but did enough to win narrowly against strong foes in Inderkum and California. The Ugly Eagles will probably need to up their game to knock off 2019 Sac-Joaquin Division 1 finalist Monterey Trail, which rolled past Woodcreek 34-7 last week, but they certainly have it in them. It’s a tossup.
3. Oak Ridge @ Rocklin – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Returning to the Sierra Foothill League, Rocklin was tied for second in league play last season and is looking to make a title push this time around. With a deep, balanced roster, the Thunder beat eventual section champion Oak Ridge by one touchdown last season, and will remain a legitimate threat to make an underdog championship run if they have a repeat performance. But the Trojans are seeking revenge, and are still the favorites to grab second place in the league having already lost to Folsom in Week 1 before bouncing back last week against Whitney.
2. Del Oro @ Folsom – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Once the season is in full swing, every SFL matchup is primetime viewing. Having already knocked off Oak Ridge, the Bulldogs’ biggest threat to keeping the reign going is already under their belt, but every week is going to be a challenge for QB Tyler Tremain, DL Jake Melander and co. Del Oro lost by one score against Rocklin last week, but the Golden Eagles expect to be in this game and potentially give the league race a big shakeup.
1. Buchanan @ Central – Friday at 6:30 p.m.
With Central looking vulnerable, a TRAC title could be within reach for Buchanan this year after the Bears beat Clovis West 38-6 last week. Central was down by 21 points last week, but came roaring back to defeat Clovis 35-31 behind the heroics of dual-threat QB DJ Stevenson. Still, Buchanan comes into this game as an underdog, and a Grizzlies squad with serious championship pedigree is hungry to give their rival a beatdown.
MORE NORCAL GAMES TO WATCH:
In any given week of California high school football, there are dozens of great games to watch between top programs. Here are some other exciting NorCal matchups happening this week:
Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep @ Serra (San Mateo)
Davis @ Elk Grove
Menlo-Atherton @ Burlingame
Archbishop Mitty @ San Jose Valley Christian
Amador @ Sonora
Palma @ San Joaquin Memorial
Placer @ Rio Linda
Bullard @ Selma
Amador @ Escalon
Capital Christian @ Cosumnes Oaks
Kingsburg @ Sanger
Oakdale @ Sierra
Ripon @ Manteca
Jesuit @ Christian Brothers
Grant @ Inderkum
Buhach Colony @ Hilmar
Clovis West @ Clovis East
Pleasant Valley @ Sutter
Rancho Cotate @ Las Lomas
Yuba City @ River Valley
San Leandro @ Moreau Catholic
Antioch @ Freedom
Hayward @ James Logan
Kennedy (Richmond) @ El Cerrito