NCS football playoffs: Matchups are set. What are the top storylines?

De La Salle is seeded first in Open/Division I. SRV receives the No. 2 seed over Pittsburg. Liberty is upset about being left out. Why was the No. 5 seed chosen? Clayton Valley, the No. 4 seed, is playing in California.


San Ramon Valley will face Campolindo in the first round of the Open/Division I playoffs on Friday, one year after the teams met in the Division II championship game. Both were promoted as a result of the North Coast Section’s competitive-equity formula. SRV, which returned many players from last year’s section and regional championship teams, was a foregone conclusion to make the playoffs. The only question on Sunday was whether the Wolves or Pittsburg would be seeded second behind De La Salle. Last month, SRV had a higher computer rating and took De La Salle to overtime before falling to the Spartans. SRV was the second seed. Campo entered last weekend on the outside looking in, but secured an at-large spot after rallying in the fourth quarter to defeat Acalanes 25-24 on Friday, giving the Cougars a share of their league title. Campo coach Kevin Macy, who has long expressed his dissatisfaction with competitive equity, recognizes the challenges that the top division will present for his team. “This was our championship,” Macy said following the thrilling victory on Friday. “If we do get in, we’ll say fine. I think we’ll just go to show North Coast that the competitive equity format has to go.” It remains to be seen whether SRV will buy what Macy is selling. Campo defeated SRV 17-14 in a Division II semifinal in 2021 to win the championship before falling to the Wolves 35-21 in the final the following year. Darren Sabedra’s


According to CalPreps’ computer rating, Liberty is the 13th best team in the NCS. So how did the Lions miss out on the section’s seven-division, 55-team playoffs? Liberty finished 7-3, with losses to San Ramon Valley, Pittsburg, and Los Gatos. Last season, a similar resume earned Liberty the No. 4 seed in Open/Division I. This time, however, that is not the case. Liberty was the best of the schools left out, with 11 teams competing for eight spots. Pittsburg, Amador Valley, and James Logan all secured three spots as league champions. De La Salle, which receives an automatic berth in its league, took another. According to, San Ramon Valley is the second-best NCS team. It received a spot, as did Clayton Valley, California, and Campolindo, both of which are higher ranked than Liberty. However, the outcome did not sit well with Lions coach Mike Cable. “We’re frustrated and upset, to say the least,” Cable told the Bay Area News Group. “It’s just sad for the seniors to all of a sudden be told, ‘No, we’re not going to be going on despite our record and despite what we were able to accomplish.'”— Dycus, Joseph


Last month, San Ramon Valley came dangerously close to becoming the first NCS team to defeat De La Salle in 32 years. The Wolves finished 9-1 and were ranked 23rd by on Sunday morning, four spots behind De La Salle and eight spots ahead of Pittsburg. The NCS selection committee seeded SRV second, potentially setting up a rematch with De La Salle for the Open Division title in the second week of the playoffs. If SRV loses that game, the Wolves will play for the Division I championship of the section in the third week of the playoffs, most likely against No. 3 seed Pittsburg. Who would have the upper hand in that situation? Which team is coming off a physical thrashing at the hands of De La Salle, or the team that did not face De La Salle? The winner of the two championship games advances to the regional round. The loser of the Division I championship game is sent home. Darren Sabedra’s


California did not win its league and fell to Clayton Valley Charter 33-24 at home last month in league play. However, when the teams meet in the first round of the Open/Division I bracket on Friday, the fourth-seeded Clayton Valley will be on the road to face the fifth-seeded Grizzlies. This is why: Clayton Valley players excessively celebrated in the middle of the field following the teams’ game last month, resulting in eight suspensions for the game last week against De La Salle (48-0 CVC defeat) and the loss of a home game Friday. The suspended players will be eligible to play in the playoffs. “It was very uncharacteristic,” Clayton Valley coach Nick Tisa admitted on Sunday. “They were waving on the 50.” It was inappropriate gestures that did not reflect well on the Clayton Valley program.” The winner on Friday will advance to the semifinals, where they will face either third-seeded Pittsburg or sixth-seeded Amador Valley. Darren Sabedra’s


Because the NCS divisions are determined prior to the start of the season, a slew of unavoidable blowouts populate the first round in each of the seven brackets. Division IV is the most visually appealing bracket. According to, No. 1 San Marin is 541 spots ahead of No. 8 Kennedy-Fremont. Acalanes will face Mt. Diablo, which is 550 spots lower than Lafayette. No. 1 El Cerrito is 392 spots ahead of No. 8 seed Berkeley in Division II. In Division V, No. 1 seed Miramonte will host San Rafael, which is ranked 243 spots lower than the Mats according to Marin Catholic was promoted to D-III after defeating Newark Memorial 69-0 in the first round of D-IV last season. However, a running clock victory is still possible. The Wildcats’ first game is against Bishop O’Dowd, whom they defeated 52-0 this season. — Dycus, Joseph


— De La Salle has won 30 consecutive NCS championships, last losing in a 1991 final to Pittsburg, and 39 section titles overall.

— Acalanes, seeded second in Division IV, could face top-seeded San Marin in the final. In the season opener, the North Bay school defeated Acalanes 27-20.

— Herschel Turner of Mt. Diablo is 43 yards shy of 3,000 yards rushing this season. On Friday, the Red Devils will play Acalanes in the first round.

— El Cerrito won the Division III championship last year, defeating Windsor. If they meet again in the playoffs this year, it will be for the D-II championship. El Cerrito is seeded first, followed by Windsor.

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