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The high school football season was supposed to begin in California this weekend, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the revised California Interscholastic Federation sports calendar into the spring semester.
Although there were no games this weekend, West Coast Preps has decided to take a look at some of the marquee matchups that would have begun the 2021 slate (note: a majority of those games will still be played in January).
De La Salle at North Shore
This was the country’s biggest game of the weekend that was scheduled for Saturday at Houston North Shore, but it was ultimately canceled.
Both teams came in as some of the best in the nation. North Shore just won its second consecutive 6A state title – Texas’ highest classification – and outscored opponents by nearly 500 points (785-289), which was just 12 months following a dominant 2018 campaign when it was a perfect 16-0 and outscored teams 854-199.
Meanwhile, De La Salle is coming off another trip to the CIF Open Division state championship game before falling to eventual national champion St. John Bosco. The Spartans also won their 28th consecutive North Coast Section crown.
This matchup was filled with talent all across the board. In the 2021 class alone, North Shore has three players in the top 210 players by 247Sports – Texas A&M receiver commit Shadrach Banks, Auburn offensive line commit Jaeden Roberts and Auburn quarterback pledge Dematrius Davis – while multiple De La Salle skill players announced their college intentions this summer in quarterback Dorian Hale (Sacramento State) and receiver Lu-Magia Hearns (Cal).
Over the past six years, few teams possess the same success like these two – North Shore has a combined 73-15 record with three state titles in that span, and De La Salle is 73-8 with two state titles.
Serra at Pittsburg
With two of some of the region’s premier programs set to square off, this was going to be another opening weekend matchup in August that everybody had their eyes on.
Not to worry, though, as the two will instead open up what is now the winter 2021 slate on Jan. 8 in Pittsburg – and it is a contest nobody will want to miss.
Serra compiled a 13-2 overall record in 2019 en route to winning Central Coast Section and CIF Northern California titles in a run that saw the Padres advance to a state title game, when it fell by just eight points to Corona Del Mar. It was their second trip to state in the last three years, following up a banner year in 2018 when they also went 13-2 and ended up as the top dog in California.
Pittsburg, like Serra, has been a force for years. The Pirates went 11-2 and won the Bay Valley Athletic League in 2019 to hang their second BVAL banner in the past three seasons.
Their only two losses came to a pair of teams with a combined 25-4 record – one of those was Serra, 58-21, and the other was to De La Salle, 49-7, in the NCS championship.
Numerous players in this matchup announced their college destinations over the past month, as Serra tight end Christian Pedersen will play at Louisville and Pittsburg offensive lineman Ryan Lange will stay home and play at Cal.
Oak Grove at Los Gatos
Another can’t miss contest, Oak Grove and Los Gatos were coming off the heels of a Central Coast Section championship showdown less than a year ago.
Los Gatos played Oak Grove twice last year actually and won both meetings – 44-0 in week No. 1 and then 21-0 in the CCS Division II title game, but Oak Grove was a far different squad from the beginning to the end of that campaign.
Oak Grove dealt with the injury bug in that first week and lost two of its first three contests before rattling off nine straight wins and advancing to the section championship as a No. 7 seed.
The two will still square off, with the 2021 affair now scheduled for the same night as Serra at Pittsburg on Jan. 8.
Los Gatos did graduate its starting quarterback and top two receivers from 2019, but a slew of marquee players return. Senior back Adam Garwood – a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago who ultimately finished with 1,260 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns – and senior linebacker Will Schweitzer- who recently committed to Notre Dame after flipping from Nebraska and who registered 130 tackles and a team-high three picks in 2019.
Oak Grove gets a full season from quarterback Jessie Miller, who missed multiple games, along with bringing back its top receiver and three players who made at least seven stops in the backfield.
Other notable matchups
Amador Valley at Milpitas
Bellarmine at Clovis North
Cal at James Logan (Rescheduled for Jan. 8)
Cardinal Newman at San Leandro (Rescheduled for Jan. 8)
Casa Grande at Windsor (Rescheduled for Jan. 8)
Freedom at Hayward
Monte Vista at Acalanes
Moreau Catholic at Campolindo (Rescheduled for Jan. 8)
Branham at Mountain View (Rescheduled for Jan. 8)
Rancho Cotate at Las Lomas (Rescheduled for Jan. 8)
Skyline at Galena-Reno
St. Ignatius at Palo Alto
Valley Christian at Wilcox
Vintage at San Ramon Valley (Rescheduled for Jan. 8)
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