High school football Week 15 preview: CIF North regional championship matchups, schedule

Top matchups

Folsom (10-3) at De La Salle (10-2) in 1-AA North championship game, Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.: For the second time in less than two months, these Northern California powerhouses will meet. In the first game, Oct. 8 in Folsom, De La Salle won comfortably, 31-10. Zeke Berry returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown as De La Salle scored the first 24 points in a physical game. Folsom quarterback Tyler Tremain was injured in the fourth quarter on a hard hit from Berry, 247Sports.com’s top-rated senior in the Bay Area. Folsom lost two more games while Tremain was out. De La Salle had appeared in 11 consecutive Open Division state championship games, winning six but none since 2015. Sunday, the run ended when the California Interscholastic Federation gave Serra the nod for the Open, moving De La Salle one tier down. So instead of preparing for Mater Dei this week, the Spartans get a rematch against Folsom, a team De La Salle has beaten five times without a loss since 2012. Calpreps.com’s computer projects the Spartans will win again, 34-21. When the teams played in two Open Division regionals, which the CIF no longer has, De La Salle won 49-15 in 2012 and 45-17 in 2013. The winner Friday will play Cathedral Catholic-San Diego or Orange Lutheran for the 1-AA state championship on Dec. 10 at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. — Darren Sabedra 

Pittsburg (9-2) vs. Liberty-Bakersfield (10-2) in 1-A North championship game at Bakersfield College, Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.: The CIF picked Bakersfield as the site for this game instead of Pittsburg even though results against the teams’ common opponent favored the Bay Area powerhouse. Pittsburg beat Clayton Valley 28-14 for the North Coast Section Division I championship last week. Liberty lost to Clayton Valley 14-13 at the Honor Bowl in Brentwood in September. But Pittsburg will make the 265-mile bus trip to the southern end of the Central Valley as it aims to win its second regional championship since 2017. The Pirates reached this stage after backup quarterback Christian Aguilar, filling in for “dinged up” starter Jaden Rashada, threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns against Clayton Valley. Rashada, a four-star junior, is expected to play Saturday. Liberty, which lost to Del Oro-Loomis in 2015 in its only previous regional appearance, will bring a seven-game winning streak to Memorial Stadium, a double-deck facility that holds more than 20,000. Last week, Liberty won the Central Section Division I championship, routing Central-Fresno 42-14. Liberty led 35-7 at halftime and 42-7 after the third quarter as Carson Woods threw for three TDs and Jalen Hankins ran for two. Calpreps.com’s computer predicts Liberty to win, 31-28. The winner will play Long Beach Poly or Serra-Gardena for the 1-A state championship on Dec. 11 at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. — Darren Sabedra

Manteca (10-3) at Wilcox (9-4) in 2-A North championship game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.: Unless this game goes to overtime, it should finish fairly quickly, as both teams rely heavily on the run. Wilcox senior Luther K. Glenn has rushed for 2,086 yards and 25 touchdowns for a Chargers team averaging 287.2 yards per game on the ground. Manteca, which runs for 293.7 yards per contest, is led by 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior Blake Nichelson. He leads the Buffaloes in rushing (1,887 yards, 33 TDs) and receiving (19 catches, 381 yards, seven TDs). He is a 247sports three-star recruit at linebacker with offers from Boston College, Fresno State and Oregon State. The teams have met twice before in the regular season, splitting two games in 2013-14. Wilcox won the first game 28-27 in overtime; Manteca got even the following year, winning 20-14. The Buffaloes have struggled in North championship games with an 0-4 record since 2013. Two years ago at McClymonds, the Buffaloes lost 46-14. They trailed 24-7 after the first quarter. In 2017 they lost at home to St. Francis 28-23. Both were 2-A matchups. Wilcox’s last appearance in a North title game was in 2018 on the way to the CIF State 3-A title. The Chargers beat Capital Christian 34-30 for the North crown, then clubbed Kaiser-Fontana 41-27 to win state. Calpreps.com is predicting a 34-31 victory for Manteca. The winner will play next Saturday, Dec. 11, at noon against South winner Scripps Ranch-San Diego or Valencia. The game will be at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. — Mike Lefkow

Campolindo (10-3) at McClymonds (10-1) in 3-A North championship game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.: Campolindo coach Kevin Macy is no stranger to the Oakland Athletic League. He was the head coach at Oakland Tech from 1989-94, then spent one season as an assistant at Bishop O’Dowd before taking over at Campolindo in 1996. Despite Macy’s experience in the OAL, Calpreps.com is forecasting a 35-21 win for McClymonds. This game matches two superb strategists in Macy and Mack coach Michael Peters. The key could be whether Campolindo can match the physicality of the Warriors. McClymonds will also have an edge in size and speed. Both teams are familiar with big games. McClymonds has been to six NorCal championship games since 2013 and has won the last three. That includes the 2-A title game two years ago when it ran over Manteca 46-14. Campolindo went to four straight NorCal games between 2014-2017, winning the first three before losing to a bigger, faster, more talented Milpitas team in the 4-A game. The Cougars were classified Division 3-A in 2014 when they beat Sutter for the NorCal title and El Capitan-Lakeside at state to complete a 16-0 season. The Campo-Mack winner will be at home next Saturday to take on South champion Birmingham-Van Nuys or Patrick Henry-San Diego. The kickoff will be at 6 p.m. — Mike Lefkow

Chico (9-3) vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral (6-7) in 4-A North championship game at Kezar Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.: From an 0-5 start to one victory from playing for a state championship. Welcome to the story of the fall 2021 Sacred Heart Cathedral Fighting Irish. The San Francisco school rolled to the Central Coast Section Division III championship, beating Leigh 21-0, Mountain View 42-14 and Christopher 27-3. The hot streak also includes regular-season victories over Bellarmine and St. Ignatius. In the section final against Christopher, Ray-John Spears threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Mixon Jr. and also scored on runs from 11 and 9 yards out. Chico won the Northern Section Division II title, edging Foothill-Palo Cedro 27-23 in the final. Calpreps.com projects SHC to advance, 21-19. The winner will play host to Northview-Covina or Colony-Ontario in the 4-A state championship game on Dec. 11. — Darren Sabedra

University Prep-Redding (13-0) at Sacred Heart Prep (6-7) in 5-A North championship game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 1 p.m.: University Prep comes in undefeated while Sacred Heart Prep will need to win Saturday to reach .500. But the Gators have been on fire since completing a 3-7 regular season. They have walloped their three playoff opponents by an average of 31 points. Single-digit losses to St. Ignatius, Mountain View, Hillsdale, Burlingame, Half Moon Bay and Menlo School were an indication that the Gators were better than their record. SHP has been to the North championship game twice before, in 2013 and 2015. The Gators beat El Cerrito 42-7 in the 3-A game before losing to Corona del Mar at state. Two years later SHP throttled McClymonds 56-20 in the 3-A game but lost to Rancho Bernardo for the state championship. University Prep is a charter school that opened in 2004. It is making its first appearance in a CIF North championship. The Panthers prefer to run, picking up two-thirds of their yards on the ground. This will be their first game against a Central Coast Section opponent. Calpreps.com’s computer is predicting a 28-21 SHP victory. The winner will host Righetti-Santa Maria or Northwood-Irvine on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. for the 5-A state title.  Righetti got into the Central Section playoffs with a 1-8 record but is 4-0 in the postseason. — Mike Lefkow

Aragon (9-4) at Salesian (9-2) in 6-A North championship game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 1 p.m.: This is new territory for Aragon, which last week won its first Central Coast Section championship in 27 years. It is not new territory for Salesian, which won a state title in 2019 and last week captured its seventh North Coast Section title under Chad Nightingale since 2005. Aragon, which finished third in the Peninsula Athletic League’s Ocean Division, was the top seed in the CCS’s Division V bracket. The Dons beat Andrew Hill, North Salinas and St. Francis-Watsonville to win the title. In the final against St. Francis, a 38-14 Aragon victory, Ivan Nisa ran for 164 yards on 19 carries to lead the way. Salesian took third in the Tri-County Athletic League’s Rock Division and has won four in a row since losing to El Cerrito and De Anza in consecutive weeks. Last week, Salesian built a big lead against Justin-Siena, then held on down the stretch to clinch the championship. Calpreps.com’s computer is taking Aragon, 34-28. The winner will play host to El Camino Real-Woodland Hills or Arlington-Riverside on Dec. 11 for the 6-A state championship. — Darren Sabedra



Serra (11-1) vs. Mater Dei-Santa Ana (11-0) at Saddleback College, Saturday, Dec. 11, 8 p.m.

DIVISION 1-AA                                                                                          

North: Folsom (10-3) at De La Salle (10-2), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.

South: Cathedral Catholic-San Diego (10-2) vs. Orange Lutheran (10-4) at Orange Coast College, Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.


North: Pittsburg (9-2) vs. Liberty-Bakersfield (10-2) at Bakersfield College, Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.

South: Long Beach Poly (11-3) at Serra-Gardena (9-4), Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.


North: Bullard-Fresno (9-4) at Central Catholic-Modesto (12-1), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m

South: Helix-La Mesa (9-3) at Mater Dei Catholic-Chula Vista (11-0), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m


North: Manteca (10-3) at Wilcox (9-4), Saturday, Dec. 4,  6 p.m.

South: Scripps Ranch-San Diego (12-1) at Valencia (8-4), Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.


North: Vanden (11-2) at Windsor (11-1), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.

South: Newport Harbor-Newport Beach (7-7) at Aquinas-San Bernardino (10-5), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.


North: Campolindo (10-3) at McClymonds (10-1), Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.

South: Birmingham-Lake Balboa (8-5) at Patrick Henry-San Diego (10-2), Saturday, Dec. 4,  6 p.m.


North: Escalon (12-1) vs. Marin Catholic (12-1) at San Rafael HS, Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.

South: Central Valley Christian-Visalia (10-4) at Serrano-Phelan (12-3), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.


North: Chico (9-3) vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral (6-7) at Kezar Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.

South: Northview-Covina (8-6) at Colony-Ontario (8-6), Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.


North: San Marin (12-1) vs. Sutter (10-1) at River Valley HS, Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.

South: Independence-Bakersfield (8-6) at Venice (8-3), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.


North: University Prep-Redding (13-0) at Sacred Heart Prep (6-7), Saturday, Dec. 4, 1 p.m.

South: Righetti-Santa Maria (5-8) vs. Northwood-Irvine (9-5) at Irvine HS, Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.


North: St. Vincent de Paul-Petaluma (11-1) at Argonaut-Jackson (10-3), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.

South: Quartz Hill (9-4) at Palo Verde (11-2), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.


North: Aragon (9-4) at Salesian (9-2), Saturday, Dec. 4, 1 p.m.

South: El Camino Real-Woodland Hills (6-7) vs. Arlington-Riverside (6-8) at Ramona HS, Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.


North: Le Grand (8-5) at Fall River (11-0), Saturday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.

South: Loara (10-6) at Morro Bay (7-6), Friday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.

DIVISION 7-A Championship

Taft (7-7) at Balboa (8-4), Saturday, Dec. 11, 1 p.m.

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Author: Darren Sabedra