Analyzing the top CIF state championship football bowl games

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Analyzing the top high school football CIF state championship bowl games this week:


Division 1-AA: De La Salle (11-2) vs. Mission Viejo 12-3), 8 p.m., Saddleback College

This is really the opening game of 2024 as two teams with numerous underclassmen battle it out. Mission Viejo’s offense has reached peak form behind rotating quarterbacks Luke Fahey and Draiden Trudeau. De La Salle relies on its offensive line and stingy defense.

Division 2-AA: Sacramento Grant (12-2) vs. La Serna (12-3), 4 p.m., at Saddleback College

Quarterback CJ Ceron keeps delivering for La Serna. Someone will have to contain Grant quarterback Luke Alexander, who has passed for 3,051 yards and 42 touchdowns.

Division 7-AA: Ferndale (10-4) vs. Fairfax (10-4), 4 p.m., at El Camino College

The Lions won the City Division II championship in overtime on a game-winning touchdown pass. Quarterback Ivan Levant will again be called on to deliver in the clutch. Ferndale doesn’t have many players but relies on discipline, team work and a community behind them.

Division 5-AA: Pleasant Valley (10-3) vs. Ramona (10-5), 8 p.m., at El Camino College

Ramona’s defense has come on strong in the playoffs. Quarterback Jeremiah Acosta has 26 touchdown passes. Running back Lucas Benton of Pleasant Valley is the player to stop.

Division 4-AA: Soquel (12-2) vs. Jurupa Hills (9-6), 8 p.m., at Pasadena City College

The Fontana school is led by dual threat quarterback Caleb Ruiz, who has run for 12 touchdowns and passed for 24 touchdowns. Justice Grauel-Tebong is an imposing 6-foot-4 running back-linebacker for Soquel.


Open Division: San Mateo Serra (12-0) vs. Santa Ana Mater Dei (12-1), 8 p.m., at Saddleback College

It’s the final high school game for four-year starting quarterback Elijah Brown, who has a 41-2 record, two Southern Section titles and one state title. Mater Dei’s defense has exceptional linebackers, led by Nasir Wyatt and Abuduall Sanders. Serra has a better defense than last season when it lost 45-0 to St. John Bosco in the Open Division final. The Padres must move the ball on the ground to stay close. Quarterback Maealiuaki Smith is an Oklahoma State commit.

Division 1-A: Folsom (12-2) vs. St. Bonaventure (12-3), 3:30 p.m., at Saddleback College

When quarterback Anthony Wolter came back from a broken collarbone at midseason, the Seraphs took off. Combined with running back Koen Glover and a strong defense, the Seraphs are on the verge of resurrecting their glory days from the Jon Mack era. Folsom has a long history of success and lots of young players with bright futures.

Division 3-AA: Acalanes (10-4) vs. Birmingham (12-2), 11:30 a.m., at Saddleback College

The Patriots needed a miracle tipped pass to reach this final. It’s the final game for three-year standout Peyton Waters, a receiver and defensive back headed to Washington. Acalanes has speed and a top quarterback in Sully Bailey.

Division 3-A: Marin Catholic (13-1) vs. Mayfair (11-3), 7 p.m., at El Camino College

Competing in the same area as Long Beach Poly and St. John Bosco, Mayfair gets its moment in the spotlight. Sophomore Chaz Gilbreath is a star in the making with 11 touchdown catches and three interceptions. Marin has an outstanding defense and is going for its second state title in three years.

Division 5-A: Woodland Christian (14-0) vs. Wilmington Banning (9-6), 3 p.m., at El Camino College

The Pilots threw only one pass in their regional win, turning to their offensive line and running game. This time quarterback Robert Guerrero will need to complete more passes to win. Woodland Christian has recorded seven shutouts this season. Carter Lang had two interceptions last week.

Strathmore (11-4) vs. Bell Gardens (10-5), 11 a.m., at Pasadena City College

Sophomore running back Daniel Tovar has been a big contributor for Bell Gardens. Jacob Poole is nearing 2,000 yards rushing for Strathmore.

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