The Bee’s Joe Davidson breaks down the CIF State championship games at Sacramento State and Placer at Crenshaw:
Mater Dei-Santa Ana (14-0) vs. De La Salle-Concord (11-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 8 p.m.
De La Salle is 4-0 all time against the Monarchs, but that’s ancient history (from 1998-2001) when the Spartans were in the midst of their numbing all-levels record 151-game winning streak. Here, Mater Dei looms as a prohibitive favorite as the top-ranked team in the country in a game that will feature as many as 23 college prospects on the field (according to recruiting sites). And 19 of them suit up for De La Salle. The Spartans are 7-4 in state bowls while the Monarchs are in their first dance since the CIF introduced the state finals in 2006.
Joe D’s pick: Mater Dei 48, De La Salle 28
Folsom (15-0) vs. Helix-La Mesa (13-1)
Kickoff: Friday, 8 p.m.
Folsom is 6-1 in championship games at Sac State this decade, all of them Sac-Joaquin Section title conquests with the loss coming to De La Salle in the 2012 Northern California Open final. The Bulldogs can pass with Kaiden Bennett (4,109 yards, 53 touchdowns) and they can run it, having chewed up 3,036 yards with 38 scores behind Bennett, Daniyel Ngata, Brandon Rupchock and Mark Weldy, and the defense headed by safety Tanner Ward has 40 takeaways and eight touchdowns. Helix is led by UC Davis commit quarterback Carson Baker (2,410 passing yards, 33 touchdowns), and the team has rushed for 3,232 yards and 36 scores.
Joe D’s pick: Folsom 42, Helix 35
Pittsburg (9-2) vs. Narbonne-Harbor City (11-3)
Kickoff: Saturday, 4 p.m.
The Pirates of the East Bay are antsy to play more games after having two canceled due to extreme heat and/or smoke concerns from nearby wildfires, and they looked fresh in rolling Granite Bay 37-14 in the NorCal final. Narbonne has college recruits on both sides of the ball – eight total, according to 247Sports.com – and has soared with a nine-game winning streak, averaging 58 points, in what figures to be a fast and fun one.
Joe D’s pick: Narbonne 35, Pittsburg 34
Cajon-San Bernardino (14-1) vs. Serra-San Mateo (12-2)
Kickoff: Friday, 4 p.m.
The Cowboys from Cajon feature dual-threat junior quarterback Jayden Daniels, who has rushed for 1,216 yards and 14 touchdowns and passed for 4,795 yards and 61 scores with just four interceptions, and the team has piled up 7,569 yards. But Serra has survived a record-setting star already. In facing Tulare Union in the NorCal final, the Padres withstood Kazmeir Allen’s national-record 72nd touchdown of the season (and his 347 rushing yards) to post a 76-43 victory. Serra lost to Canyon-Chatworth 42-40 in the final last season.
Joe D’s pick: Serra 44, Cajon 37
Grace Brethren-Simi Valley (13-2) vs. Saint Francis-Mountain View (10-4)
Kickoff: Saturday, noon
Fresh off a 28-23 NorCal win over Manteca, Saint Francis seeks its first state title after falling at Sac State two years ago, and it will ride school rushing record holder Darrell Page. He has 2,204 yards. Grace Brethren has a freshman quarterback in Michael Zele (1,783 yards, 21 touchdowns) and a freshman running back with a cool name – Seven McGee, who has rushed for 1,082 yards and 11 scores.
Joe D’s pick: Saint Francis 24, Grace Brethren 14
Placer (13-1) at Crenshaw-Los Angeles (11-3)
Kickoff: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Radio: KAHI (950 AM)
Placer hasn’t been this bright on the state radar since 1980, when it finished state-ranked No. 1 in Division III by Cal-Hi Sports, and here comes the old school with the old-school Wing-T looking to make history. The ’Shaw, as the school proudly calls itself, has won six Los Angeles City Section titles since 1992 and went 14-1 in 2009, losing to De La Salle in the state finals. The enrollment has dropped from 2,085 students in 2008 to 1,446 four years ago to 800 now, but the region is buzzing at hosting this game.
Joe D’s pick: Placer 24, Crenshaw 21