Last week, we started the weekly process of identifying our projected seeds for the North Coast Section playoffs, despite still being in the first half of the season schedule. Following section seeding criteria, especially head-to-head and common opponent results, we will rank teams accordingly each week, and discuss the criteria used and how these seeds may change in the near future.
We started the process last week by seeding all eight teams in each division, but with limited analysis, which will continue to evolve each week. This year features more divisions, but half as many teams getting into each bracket. We will try to note match-ups which will have the largest impacts on our projections. Also, we do this under the assumption that every eligible team will apply for the post-season, and only change that assumption in the final couple weeks if a coach makes it clear that their program does not intend on applying.
1. De La Salle
3. Monte Vista
5. James Logan
6. San Ramon Valley
8. Amador Valley
Rationale: The top seed in the annual no-brainer, and with Liberty’s win over Monte Vista, the Lions have themselves in the two slot right now. Most of this division will shake out fairly easily with head-to-head and common opponent results, especially when Pittsburg and Liberty meet in mid-October.
With five EBAL teams projected in our top eight, head-to-head will actually take care of a lot of the seeding. James Logan’s win over Heritage, coupled with Heritage’s win over Amador Valley, gives the Colts a big edge in avoiding that dreaded eight seed. In fact, looking at common opponent scores, we have moved Logan all the way to the five seed, under the assumption that the Colts are now the favorite to win the MVAL, and have the better result against Heritage compared to California.
It is important to note that Amador Valley is right now projected as our EBAL-Valley Division champion, hence the eight slot. But if the Dons don’t win their division and get that auto berth, that would open the door to Freedom, Antioch, Heritage or Berkeley, depending on which teams can meet eligibility criteria through the process of league play.
1. Clayton Valley Charter
4. San Leandro
Rationale: The top spots here are pretty straightforward at this point, especially after Clayton Valley pushed Liberty into overtime. Campolindo has a quality win over Amador Valley already notched on its belt, and the Cougars should be no worse than a second-place team in the DAL-Foothill. Vintage and San Leandro could really go either direction, depending on league finish. If the Crushers win the VVAL, they will have a strong claim to the three seed, but if San Leandro wins the WACC-Foothill, we would actually move the Pirates up to the three seed since that would mean wins over O’Dowd and/or Encinal.
San Leandro also has an earlier win over Foothill, which just needs to reach .500 to get a solid seed in this division, but that is easier said than done. The Falcons should get win number four over Dougherty, but the fifth win could come down to a rivalry game with Amador Valley late in the season, as the EBAL-Mountain schedule is brutal.
After Foothill it gets really up in the air at this point. Right now Livermore, Dublin, Napa and Redwood all have very similar resumes for the committee to consider. Livermore’s win over Windsor is the best of the bunch at this point, and the Cowboys could in fact contend for the EBAL-Valley title this year, as could Dublin. Dublin’s only loss to this point is to James Logan, and it was a competitive game. As for Napa or Redwood, we are taking the easy way out for now and listing them both as contenders for the eight seed. Granada and College Park are two other teams to keep an eye on.
1. Las Lomas
2. Rancho Cotate
4. Bishop O’Dowd
7. American Canyon
8. El Cerrito
Rationale: Las Lomas already has a win over O’Dowd and should be a top-two finisher in the DAL-Foothill. Rancho Cotate should be a top-two team in the NBL-Oak, but unless the Cougars beat Cardinal Newman, they won’t have the same number of quality victories as the Knights, though the recent win over Pleasant Valley looks better right now than the O’Dowd win for Las Lomas.
Benicia is a heavy favorite to win the DAL-Valley and played Sutter real close, but if O’Dowd ends up repeating as WACC-Foothill champions, then the Dragons should go ahead of Benicia and into the three seed. A top three finish in the WACC-Foothill should get O’Dowd a top four seed with its strength of schedule, while Windsor’s win over Eureka gives the Jaguars a boost to go with the fact that their league schedule will boost overall strength.
Hayward could very well finish 9-1, but playing in a lower-tier division won’t help their cause, especially with the out-of-league struggles for the majority of the teams in the WACC-Shoreline this year. American Canyon is off to an unbeaten start, but the Wolves have yet to notch any quality victories. However, they do have a better league schedule than Hayward, so if they can beat teams such as Vintage, Napa or Justin-Siena, a higher seed could await.
El Cerrito has struggled mightily to start the year, but is still considered a top-three team in the TCAL-Rock. The Gauchos could easily move into the top five seeds by placing in the top two of their league.
We currently have teams such as Bethel, Northgate and Casa Grande projected outside the top eight. With Bethel’s strength of schedule, the Jaguars likely have to beat De Anza and win the TCAL-Stone in order to crack this field. Northgate, meanwhile, could cement a berth by beating either Benicia or Las Lomas late in the season, but otherwise the schedule has little in the way of quality opponents, and the loss to Alhambra could hurt. Casa Grande just beat Justin-Siena, but will probably need to beat American Canyon to have a shot.
1. Cardinal Newman
2. Marin Catholic
8. Newark Memorial
Rationale: The top two seeds are pretty much a slam dunk at this point, unless Cardinal Newman gets knocked off by Rancho Cotate. Piner has blasted every opponent thus far, but only one of those will count much for seeding at the end of the year, and that is the recent big win over Miramonte.
Meanwhile, Acalanes played tough against Vintage and has wins over both Berkeley, Sacred Heart Cathedral and El Cerrito already. A 2-2 league record might have been good enough for the three seed, but that is now in question after Piner routed Miramonte, meaning the Dons will need a similar showing against the Matadors.
After Tamalpais, simply filling out this field becomes a matter of who can get eligible, and the resulting first-round games will probably not be what the section had in mind when they reduced the fields to eight teams. Teams like Maria Carrillo or Petaluma would likely be better opponents, but are less likely to get eligible. For Kennedy to become eligible, the Titans simply need to beat each Newark Memorial, which has already guaranteed eligibility by beating Tennyson.
Concord just needs to beat Mt. Diablo in its season finale, though the Minutemen could pick up another win or two along the way as well. Of course, this projection is assuming that every eligible team applies for the post-season.
2. Del Norte
3. De Anza
4. Moreau Catholic
5. San Marin
Rationale: Last week, before the loss to Mazama, we had Del Norte projected in the top spot, but Encinal’s loss to McClymonds registers better as the top quality loss among the top one-loss teams in this division.
The top two or three seeds are going to be pretty up for grabs in this division. Del Norte could certainly go 9-1 in the regular season, but if Encinal beats either O’Dowd or San Leandro in league play, the Jets will have a strong argument for the top seed even at 8-2 overall. The biggest knock against De Anza will be the league that the Dons play in, and it is hard to imagine a team from a lower-tier division getting a top-two seed without a massive non-league victory.
Moreau Catholic’s win over San Marin should keep the Mariners in front of the Mustangs, just like their loss to Del Norte solidifies their place below the Warriors. Eureka will get its chance to fight for a better seed in league play, while Miramonte could be in a position later this year where the Matadors would need to beat Alhambra just to qualify for the post-season.
A team to keep an eye on is Fortuna. The defending NCS champions need to win either two of three games against Del Norte and Eureka, or win two of their final three games, or win four of their final six overall in order to gain eligibility. Piedmont is another team trying to crack this group, but the Highlanders have an uphill climb in the WACC-Foothill.
2. St. Bernard’s
6. St. Patrick-St. Vincent
7. Ygnacio Valley
Rationale: If Kennedy wins the TCAL-Rock, the Eagles will likely be the top seed here, but that is no given considering that El Cerrito and Salesian stand in the way. Justin-Siena and St. Bernard’s are both off to strong starts, especially with Justin-Siena’s win over Riordan, but the Braves’ loss to Casa Grande has to drop them below the Crusaders right now.
Middletown and Kelseyville still figure to be two of the strongest teams in the NCL, and the winner of their head-to-head should get a top four seed. St. Pat’s will end up having common opponents with Middletown and Kelseyville (St. Helena) and Justin-Siena (American Canyon), so those scores could come into play at the end of the year. So far, St. Pat’s and Kelseyville each had comparable losses to St. Helena.
Ygnacio Valley should be eligible and could reach six or seven wins this season. Arcata needs to win the HDN-Little 4 to secure a playoff berth. Pinole Valley could potentially snag the spot from Ygnacio Valley, a development we will watch through the year, and would be a strong candidate to get in the field if Arcata does not win its league. Number of quality wins during league play will be a huge determinant for both Ygnacio Valley and Pinole Valley in the fight for a playoff spot.
2. St. Helena
5. St. Vincent de Paul
6. El Molino
8. Oakland Military Institute
Rationale: Salesian and St. Helena are both building strong resumes, and will have St. Pat’s as a common opponent by the end of the year, but right now Salesian’s wins over Moreau Catholic and Piedmont give them the edge, even though St. Helena established itself as the favorite in the NCL with the recent win over Kelseyville.
Ferndale’s win over Fortuna is a huge boost for the Wildcats, despite an early loss to Clear Lake. Willits has head-to-head wins over St. Vincent and McKinleyville, while St. Vincent beat Cloverdale. Despite a bad loss to Lower Lake, El Mo’s win over Analy moves the Lions into the six spot for now. If Oakland Military pulls an upset in league play, they could have a shot at the six or seven seed.