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VARSITY TIMES | CIF state championship bowl games

December 12, 2007|Dan Arritt;Martin Henderson;Austin Knoblauch

The CIF state championship bowl games return to the Home Depot Center on Saturday. Here's a look at the matchups:

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DIVISION I

Concord De La Salle (12-0) vs. Corona Centennial (13-1), 7:30 p.m. -- The key matchup will be Centennial's high-powered spread offense against De La Salle's small but technically sound defense.

The Huskies feature a two-pronged attack led by running back Ryan Bass and quarterback Matt Scott, who have committed to Arizona. Bass is nearing the 2,500-yard mark for the season and Scott bettered the 1,000-yard rushing plateau Saturday in his team's 42-7 victory over Corona Santiago in the Southern Section Inland Division championship game. Scott has also thrown for just over 2,300 yards and 18 touchdowns.

The closest De La Salle has to a Division I recruit is middle linebacker/tight end Brady Amack, a three-year starter on defense. At 5-foot-7 and 207 pounds, Dominic Russo also plays linebacker for the Spartans. He's especially strong in pass coverage, returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown in a North Coast Section semifinal.

The Spartans won their 16th consecutive section championship with a 37-0 victory over San Ramon California in the North Coast 4A title game Saturday.

De La Salle scored 35 points against Mission Viejo in early October, but the Diablos were hardly a defensive force this season, allowing fewer than 14 points only once in 11 games. Mike MacGillivray, a senior, and Blake Wayne, a junior, alternate at quarterback, and Kylan Butler and Tito Pica are the main ballcarriers in the Spartans' veer option. On the offensive line, Jordan Bouey (6-0, 270) is a three-year starter.

Centennial will counter with one of the top linebacking corps in the Southland, led by junior middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the team's leading tackler and one of the nation's top recruits for his class.

If Centennial, ranked No. 2 in the state by CalHiSports.com, can match top-ranked De La Salle's discipline and avoid costly penalties, the Huskies should win by seven to 10 points.

-- Dan Arritt

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DIVISION II

Oceanside (11-1) vs. Novato (13-0), 3:30 p.m. -- This matchup is perhaps the best example of why this is called a bowl championship rather than a state championship.

According to CalHiSports.com, Oceanside is ranked behind three Division II powers from Southern California that were ineligible for the berth because they failed to win section titles: Orange Lutheran (10-2), Encino Crespi (12-2) and Santa Ana Mater Dei (9-2).

Despite its poor strength of schedule, Novato was chosen to represent Northern California although being ranked behind Palo Cedro Foothill (12-0). Top-ranked Stockton St. Mary's (12-2) failed to win its section title.

Avocado League champion Oceanside is a balanced squad led by junior quarterback Jordan Wynn and senior running back Armani Taylor. Anchored by senior linebacker Matt Segi, the defense allowed fewer than 180 yards a game.

The Pirates were beaten in their season opener by La Mesa Helix, 28-20. In that game, Coach John Carroll was injured on a sideline play that is responsible for the cane he now uses. The Pirates have since won 11 straight. Oceanside's 27-10 victory in the San Diego Section Division II final over San Marcos Mission Hills was the Pirates' 10th section title and fourth in a row, a section record for non-small schools.

Novato, of the Marin Athletic League, has won 25 consecutive games and three straight North Coast Section 2A titles.

The Hornets' lineup isn't filled with college prospects, but they have had different players step up each week, though they look for fullback/linebacker Jose Mendez to make the big plays.

Well-balanced on offense, the defense hasn't allowed more than 22 points, and the team has three victories by four points or fewer.

-- Martin Henderson

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DIVISION III

Modesto Central Catholic (11-1-1) vs. Ventura St. Bonaventure (13-1), 11:30 a.m. -- After winning its seventh division title in nine years with a 42-28 victory over Newhall Hart in the Southern Section Northern Division finals last weekend, St. Bonaventure enters its first state bowl championship game as the favorite. First-year Coach Todd Therrien becomes the first rookie coach to steer his team into a state bowl game and he'll be guiding the Seraphs against another top-notch parochial program fresh off its seventh consecutive Sac-Joaquin Division V title.

For most of the season, Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman was the favorite to earn the North Division III bowl berth. But that changed Saturday when the Cardinals lost to Danville San Ramon Valley in the North Coast Section Division 3A championship game. Central Catholic, which tied Cardinal Newman in its season opener, received the berth thanks to its 24-6 victory over Patterson in its section final.

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