North Coast Section 2021 high school football preview: Top 10 teams, players to watch, new coaches, top games

The CIF North Coast Section is loaded with talent this year and it will all be on display this weekend as a full football schedule kicks off across the section.

Before this weekend’s slate of games, here’s a look at the top storylines in the NCS this season, from top teams to new coaches to top players.

MORE: PRESEASON ALL-NCS TEAM | TOP 50 TEAM PREVIEWS | TOP 25 STATEWIDE RANKINGS

REIGNING NCS CHAMPIONS

Due to COVID-19, there were no football championships held anywhere in the state in 2020. Therefore the reigning champions are from 2019.

  • Division 1: De La Salle
  • Division 2: Clayton Valley Charter
  • Division 3: Rancho Cotate
  • Division 4: Cardinal Newman
  • Division 5: Del Norte
  • Division 6: St. Bernard’s
  • Division 7: Salesian College Prep

TOP 10 TEAMS

10. Cardinal Newman: With a new head coach and an amazing senior class gone, the Cardinals are a mystery team for a change. LB/RB Santino Acevedo is still a problem to be dealt with though.

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9. California: The Grizzlies have a lot of upside with the QB/WR tandem of Teddy Booras and Jake Calcagno among those returning.

8. Windsor: This might be the year Windsor takes over the throne for best team in the North Bay. The Jaguars are also major favorites in Division 3 as well, along with Benicia.

7. Marin Catholic: After losing last season’s senior cast, there’s not a ton to go by for MC. But the Wildcats still have nationally-ranked QB Michael Ingrassia, and a penchant for reloading year-to-year.

6. Benicia: Defense-minded Benicia is not only a major threat in Division 3, but one of the top sleeper teams in the section/area overall. Landen Croinex, Janari Boone, and Miles Bailey headline a dominant front seven, and the Panthers have key starters returning on offense too.

5. Clayton Valley Charter: The Ugly Eagles lost a spectacular senior class, but numerous key returners are back, including RB Rahsaan Woodland II. This will be Tim Murphy’s last season as head coach after a decade.

4. Liberty (Brentwood): Liberty went 4-1 in the Bay Valley League with a new head coach and a litany of first-time starters in key roles last season. Dual-threat QB Nate Bell is one of many key returners ready to build on the Lions’ spring campaign.

3. San Ramon Valley: After a strong showing in the spring, this could be one of the best Wolves teams in recent memory. 3-star QB Jack Quigley headlines a litany of star senior returners, particularly on the offensive end.

2. Pittsburg: Pittsburg made the Division 1 finals in 2019 and would’ve been the heavy favorite to return there if there’d been a postseason last season. 4-star juniors Jaden Rashada (QB) and Rashid Williams (WR) form what could be the top battery in NorCal for the next two seasons.

MORE: READ PITTSBURG’S SEASON PREVIEW

1. De La Salle: The Spartans have won 28 straight NCS championships, and their win-streak against Northern California teams spans 315 games (including two ties). The overwhelming Division 1 favorite remains very talented across the field in 2021.

MORE: READ DE LA SALLE’S SEASON PREVIEW

PLAYERS TO WATCH

We released our preseason All-North Coast Section team earlier this week, featuring more than 50 players to watch.

NEW COACHES TO WATCH

In the section’s biggest coaching splash, Paul Cronin left Cardinal Newman to take over for Brad Stibi at Windsor.

Jeff Turner, the only head coach Bethel has had since it started in 1998, has resigned, and is replaced by Daniel Martinez.

Monte Vista hired former NFL running back C.J. Anderson as its new head coach after Matt Russi stepped down.

Zach Sims is in at Freedom after Andrew Cotter stepped down. Sims was previously the offensive coordinator at College Parker, and was also a coach at St. Patrick-St. Vincent during the team’s state championship run in 2016.

Luke Bodwin resigned at Pinole Valley after 12 seasons, and has been replaced by Troy McConico.

After Analy and El Molino merged to become West County, Dan Bourdon of Analy will be head coach, and ElMo’s Jerod Brown is the associate head coach.

TOP REGULAR SEASON GAMES

Aug. 27: Bishop O’Dowd @ Liberty (Brentwood)

Aug. 27: Serra @ Pittsburg

Aug. 27: Windsor @ East Union

Aug. 27: De La Salle @ St. Mary’s (Stockton)

Aug. 27: Marin Catholic @ El Cerrito

Aug. 27: Vintage @ San Ramon Valley

Aug. 27: San Leandro @ Cardinal Newman

Aug. 27: Rancho Cotate @ Las Lomas

Sep. 3: Pittsburg @ Folsom

Sep. 3: Los Gatos @ Liberty (Brentwood)

Sep. 3: El Cerrito @ Vintage

Sep. 3: Bishop O’Dowd @ San Ramon Valley

Sep. 3: Vacaville @ Cardinal Newman

Sep. 3: Rancho Cotate @ Acalanes

Sep. 10: Valley Christian @ Pittsburg

Sep. 10: Bishop O’Dowd @ El Cerrito

Sep. 10: Vintage @ Cardinal Newman

Sep. 10: Northgate @ Las Lomas

Sep. 10: Canyon Springs (North Las Vegas, NV) @ Liberty (Brentwood) – Honor Bowl

Sep. 11: Clayton Valley Charter vs. Liberty (Bakersfield) @ Liberty (Brentwood) – Honor Bowl

Sep. 17: Cathedral Catholic @ De La Salle

Sep. 17: Marin Catholic @ McClymonds

Sep. 17: San Leandro @ Campolindo

Sep. 24: Cardinal Newman @ St. Mary’s (Stockton)

Oct. 1: Saint Frances (Baltimore, MD) @ De La Salle

Oct. 1: Pittsburg @ McClymonds

Oct. 1: Benicia @ Windsor

Oct. 1: Pleasant Valley (Chico) @ Rancho Cotate

Oct. 8: Clayton Valley Charter @ California

Oct. 8: De La Salle @ Folsom

Oct. 8: De Anza @ El Cerrito

Oct. 8: Benicia @ Campolindo

Oct. 8: Acalanes @ Las Lomas

Oct. 8: Fortuna @ Del Norte

Oct. 15: Livermore @ Foothill

Oct. 15: San Ramon Valley @ Clayton Valley Charter

Oct. 15: Salesian College Prep @ El Cerrito

Oct. 15: Monte Vista @ Amador Valley

Oct. 15: Campolindo @ Acalanes

Oct. 15: Bishop O’Dowd @ Moreau Catholic

Oct. 16: Del Norte @ Eureka

Oct. 16: Marin Catholic @ Redwood

Oct. 22: De La Salle @ San Ramon Valley

Oct. 22: Cardinal Newman @ Windsor

Oct. 22: Benicia @ Acalanes

Oct. 22: Monte Vista @ California

Oct. 22: James Logan @ Hayward

Oct. 23: San Marin @ Marin Catholic

Oct. 29: San Ramon Valley @ California

Oct. 29: Del Norte @ Fortuna

Oct. 29: Campolindo @ Las Lomas

Oct. 29: Bishop O’Dowd @ James Logan

Oct. 29: Cardinal Newman @ Rancho Cotate

Nov. 5: Clayton Valley Charter @ De La Salle

Nov. 5: Liberty (Brentwood) @ Heritage

Nov. 5: Windsor @ Rancho Cotate

Nov. 5: Las Lomas @ Benicia

Nov. 5: California @ Amador Valley

Nov. 5: James Logan @ San Leandro

Nov. 5: Miramonte @ Campolindo

Nov. 5: Eureka @ Del Norte

Nov. 5: Redwood @ San Marin

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