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.
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.
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.
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.
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