With just one regular season weekend remaining, the playoff picture is coming into focus across all divisions in the North Coast Section. The moratorium on the .500 record rule has multiple teams hopeful of playoff berths who would have been previously left out, and it is important to note that the North Coast Section committees weigh a variety of criteria. One thing that is not a factor, however, are scores of games, as the committee only looks at wins and losses; scores are not even part of a school's application.
Here is a look at our projections heading into the final week.
1. De La Salle
3. Clayton Valley
4. Monte Vista
7. Amador Valley/Heritage/Vintage
8. James Logan
This division went through another shake-up this last week, and the team which had its fate damaged the most was Vintage. The Crushers went from holding the tiebreak scenarios for the Vine Valley, to finding themselves in a two-way tie with Casa Grande, who holds the advantage over Vintage based on an earlier head-to-head victory. Vintage's best chance to get in the field was as an automatic qualifier, and the only way for that to happen now is if Justin-Siena beats Casa Grande. Otherwise, the Crushers could have a difficult argument as they did not play a single Division I team this season.
Antioch all but guaranteed itself of a playoff berth with its win over Liberty, as there remains only one possible scenario in which the Panthers could be left out. That scenario would involve an Amador Valley win over California, who has a win over Antioch, a Justin-Siena win over Casa Grande, which would give Vintage an automatic berth, and a Panthers' loss to Pittsburg in a Big Little Game that is for the Bay Valley Athletic League title for the first time since Najee Harris' junior season.
Clayton Valley's win over Monte Vista last week moved the Ugly Eagles into the top three, still with a shot at the two seed. That said, if Pittsburg beats Antioch, it would be hard to overlook the Pirates for the second seed as outright league champions with non-league wins over Valley Christian and Wilcox, and a lone loss to Folsom. Monte Vista, California and Antioch are in order right now based on head-to-head results among those three teams.
James Logan is in as the automatic qualifier out of the WACC-MVAL Foothill Division, which just leaves the seven seed as the big question mark entering the final week. Amador Valley has the best strength of schedule, and a win over Dublin which gives them a common opponent edge over Heritage and Liberty. If Liberty beats Heritage, that Dublin result will carry significant weight. However, if Heritage beats Liberty, the Patriots have a win over James Logan, and they would be the only team among the four remaining with a win over a team in the field, unless Amador Valley beats California. If Amador Valley beats California, they are in the field.
1. San Ramon Valley
2. Rancho Cotate
5. San Leandro
San Ramon Valley and Rancho Cotate both strengthened their resumes last week with wins over California and Cardinal Newman, and Rancho has a win over a Vanden team that beat Foothill. Foothill clinched the EBAL-Valley title last week.
What gives SRV an edge over Rancho for the top seed right now is the Wolves' win over Foothill, who is in line for the three seed. Rancho Cotate could make a case for the top seed, however, with a win over Windsor this week. Livermore's win over Dublin last week shook up the next few slots, as Livermore is now in line to finish ahead of the Gaels in league play. The biggest beneficiary of that result would be Campolindo, which was previously behind Dublin in our projections, but especially with last week's win over Las Lomas, moves into the top four. Campolindo also has an earlier win over San Leandro, who has a solid win over Cardinal Newman to place them ahead of Livermore.
Redwood looks like the best of the rest at this point, even with a suspect loss to Ukiah, and can move higher if they can upset San Marin this week. There should be some debate, however, between the Giants and Castro Valley, as long as the Trojans defeat Berkeley this week. Granada can also make a case if the Matadors beat Livermore this week.
3. El Cerrito
4. Las Lomas
6. Casa Grande
7. Northgate/College Park
8. Santa Rosa
Windsor's earlier victories over Benicia and East Union-Manteca - plus its undefeated record - have the Jaguars in the driver's seat for the top seed. Even a loss to Rancho Cotate this week would likely not be enough to displace them from the top seed. Benicia now sits in outright possession of the DAL-Foothill lead after Campolindo beat Las Lomas last week, and the Panthers should be a likely two seed if they wrap up the outright title against the Knights this week. El Cerrito has quality wins over Vintage and De Anza, but winning the TCAL-Rock this year is not as impressive as winning the DAL-Foothill.
Despite losing to Campolindo last week, Las Lomas still has its win over Acalanes, which keeps the Knights in line for a top four seed. The debate between Acalanes and Casa Grande for the five seed should be an interesting one. Casa Grande will likely be an automatic qualifier, and has a win over Vintage, but Acalanes has a more impressive win over Rancho Cotate, so we are giving the Dons the edge for now.
Either Northgate or College Park will get in as an automatic qualifier, as they face each other for the DAL-Valley title this week. Likewise, Santa Rosa can win the outright NBL-Redwood title with a win over St. Vincent de Paul this week. A Panthers' loss would create a three-way tie for that league between Santa Rosa, Montgomery and SVDP, so the league's tie-breaker would determine the auto berth in that case.
American Canyon was in line for a berth before last week's loss to Justin-Siena. The Wolves have a win over Casa Grande, but they need Casa Grande or Santa Rosa to lose this week in order to have any shot at a berth. Bishop O'Dowd's hopes are hanging by a thread, and they need to beat San Leandro this week to avoid complete elimination before the seeding meeting.
1. Marin Catholic
2. Cardinal Newman
7. Newark Memorial
8. Mt. Diablo
Marin Catholic has a stranglehold on the top seed in this division, but there can be some debate in the following seeds.
Cardinal Newman does have a somewhat bad loss to San Leandro, but with wins over Vacaville, Vintage and De Anza, their resume is still solid enough for a top two seed. The Vacaville and Vintage, especially, are better than any remaining team has on its resume. Tennyson is unbeaten, but going undefeated and winning the WACC-MVAL Shoreline Division would not be enough for a top three seed were it not for the Lancers' win over James Logan, which clinched an auto berth in Division 1 last week when it captured the WACC-MVAL Foothill Division.
Tamalpais' win over Redwood is better than anything Petaluma has on its slate, though Petaluma did beat a Santa Rosa team which could grab an auto berth in Division 3 and the Trojans beat the same Justin-Siena team that just knocked off American Canyon. Either way, this will be a solid four-five match-up.
There is a huge drop-off after the first five teams in this division. With a win over St. Mary's-Albany, Vallejo appears as the best of the rest, which is why we have them in the six seed. Newark Memorial could get to .500 with a win over Alameda this week, and Mt. Diablo could improve its position with a win over Concord. Maria Carrillo has played a much more difficult schedule, but at 1-8, the Pumas need a win this week against Ukiah after last week's loss to West County.
1. Del Norte
2. San Marin
4. St. Bernard's
5. De Anza
7. West County
Del Norte sweeping St. Bernard's should carry significant weight for seeding in this division, along with its wins over Eureka and Fortuna. San Marin should not be penalized for a loss to Marin Catholic, and the Mustangs could still make a strong case for the top seed if they win their final game against Redwood. Encinal will likely finish as a one-loss team as well, but the Jets' strength of schedule does not warrant a top-two seed.
St. Bernard's can solidify its top-four status by taking care of business against Fortuna this week, after sweeping Eureka and beating Arcata and East Nicolaus. All of De Anza's losses are to quality opponents, and the Dons have a quality win over Salesian. Miramonte is 5-3, with all losses to quality opponents, but the Matadors have yet to post a strong victory that would move them any higher. The Mats are likely to end up 5-4 after another tough game to finish the regular season, but the strength of schedule will increase as a result.
West County gave itself a huge boost last week with the win over Maria Carrillo, while Hercules clinched a berth by beating Vallejo for the TCAL-Stone title.
Fortuna and Archie Williams can still make a case for a playoff berth, especially Fortuna, since a win over St. Bernard's would likely catapult them past West County.
4. Saint Mary's
6. Pinole Valley
7. San Lorenzo
Much like Division 5, this division is struggling with teams who have solid playoff resumes. Salesian has only two quality losses to El Cerrito and De Anza, and wins over Pinole Valley and Hercules. Justin-Siena moves into our two slot this week based on its recent win over American Canyon, which is actually the best win among teams in this field. Were it not for the Braves' loss to Fortuna, they would have a strong case for the top seed. Arcata also has a win over Pinole Valley, and like Salesian, two quality losses to Sutter and St. Bernard's.
Saint's Mary's has a head-to-head win over Middletown, so despite their poor record, we have them slotted ahead for now. That will change if Middletown beats St. Helena this week, a win which would move the Mustangs into the top four and drop Saint Mary's below Pinole Valley, since Pinole Valley beat the Vallejo team that beat Saint Mary's.
San Lorenzo and Kelseyville appear likely to have shots in the field, despite a combined three wins among them. Kelseyville's win over Fort Bragg should have significant impact here, even though it is the Knights' only win of the season. The remaining four teams not listed for this division are all winless.
1. St Vincent de Paul
2. St Helena
3. Clear Lake
4. St Patrick-St Vincent
7. Berean Christian
8. Hoopa Valley
The top three seeds seem like the only fairly sure thing in this division. St. Vincent's win over St. Helena is still holding up, while St. Helena took care of Clear Lake last week to gain the edge for the NCL I title.
It gets messy after the top three, including a SPSV team which has a quality win over Saint Mary's. The Bruins could go as high as the four seed, or as low as the eight seed, or even left out. In fact, that's how the rest of this bracket feels. We had Ferndale in the seeding last week, but have moved them out after a loss to Hoopa Valley. Due to that, Cloverdale is up higher now, with a win over Piner as its top notch on the resume. If Hoopa Valley can bump out Ferndale, that will benefit McKinleyville, since the Panthers beat Hoopa but lost to Ferndale. Ferndale and McKinleyville play again this week, though, so the winner of that game should be in.
Willits can also help its cause with a win over Fort Bragg this week. If the Wolverines do that, their earlier win over Cloverdale could help them land a berth.