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CIF-Central Coast Section football championship game previews, predictions

Mitty hopes to finish off one of greatest turnaround seasons with one of section's greatest championship-game upsets over indomitable Serra

The goal for all high school teams in the Central Coast Section is to practice on Thanksgiving.

Break out the pads, then the fixings for these 10 teams below.

These games not only put a section banner in school gyms, but each winner also qualifies for the CIF State Bowl championships with pairings announced on Sunday.

The winners of regional bowl games get to play for state titles the second week of December. 


Division 1
No. 1 Serra (12-0) vs. No. 6 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (9-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: San Jose City College
Section titles (last one): Serra 7 (2021), Mitty 2 (1999)
Series history (since 2004): Serra owns 17-3-1 lead
Points for (against): Serra 434 (133), Mitty 352 (249)
Breakdown: Great matchup of one of the most dominating teams in CCS history — Serra won two playoff games 57-7 and 57-21 — against one of the great comeback tales. Mitty was 1-9 last season (1-12 over two) and won playoff games against higher seeds 29-28 and 42-41, both in overtime. Serra won the regular-season game 35-7 on Sept. 30. As Serra junior QB Maealiuaki Smith's play continues to rise — he has 11 FBS offers — so does Serra's dominance. He was 17 of 19 last week for 284 yards and four touchdowns and played just a half. computer score: Serra 41, Mitty 17
SBLive predicted score: Serra 35, Mitty 7

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Maealiuaki Smith, Serra. Photo: Dennis Lee

Maealiuaki Smith, Serra. Photo: Dennis Lee

Division 2
No. 2 St. Ignatius (6-6) vs. No. 5 Bellarmine (6-6)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: San Jose City College
Section titles (last one): St. Ignatius 3 (2012), Bellarmine 7 (2015)
Series history (since 2004): Bellarmine owns 13-6 lead
Points for (against): St. Ignatius 244 (243), Bellarmine 256 (255)
Breakdown: Two also-rans in the West Catholic Athletic League have found their footing in the playoffs. St. Ignatius, aided by a terrific sophomore class that includes QB Soren Hummel and RB Jarious Hogan, hope to turn around a 34-14 loss to the Bells on Sept. 23. Bellarmine fought through a tremendous injury bug and have scored big wins over Menlo-Atherton (30-7) and top-seed Wilcox-Santa Clara (21-17). Ben Pfaff is the Bells' No. 1 offensive threat. computer score: Bellarmine 20, St. Ignatius 17
SBLive predicted score: Bellarmine 28, St. Ignatius 27

Ben Pfaff, Bellarmine. Photo: Dennis Lee

Ben Pfaff, Bellarmine. Photo: Dennis Lee

Division 3
No. 3 Menlo School-Atherton (7-5) vs. No. 5 Hollister (7-5) 

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rabobank Stadium, Salinas
Section titles (last one): Menlo School 0, Hollister 7 (2014)
Series history (since 2004): Menlo School beat Hollister 44-35 last season in only meeting, the CCS semifinals
Points for (against): Menlo School 288 (227), Hollister 331 (198)
Breakdown: Menlo hopes to end a streak of five straight CCS finals’ defeats but will need to contain speedy Hollister QB Isaiah Molina, who last week carried 11 times for 216 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-28 win over top-seeded Soquel. QB Jake Bianchi and running back Ty Richardson lead Menlo. computer score: Hollister 27, Menlo 21
SBLive predicted score: Hollister 28, Menlo 24

Division 4
No. 3 Branham-San Jose (11-1) vs. No. 4 Santa Teresa-San Jose (7-5)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: San Jose City College
Section titles (last one): Branham 0, Santa Teresa 0
Series history (since 2004): Santa Teresa holds a 3-1 lead, with a 27-21 win to start the 2021 season
Points for (against): Branham 460 (257), Santa Teresa 310 (176)
Breakdown: Branham QB William Augenstein is a one-man show as he showed in a 68-45 semifinal win over Mountain View, accounting for 454 yards and six touchdowns. For the season, he’s thrown for 2,010 yards (22 TDs) and rushed for 2,017 (29). The teams have each lost their only CCS final appearance, Santa Teresa to Live Oak 38-15 in 1987. Branham lost in 2019 to Milpitas 27-26. computer score: Santa Teresa 28, Branham 27
SBLive predicted score: Branham 35, Santa Teresa 34

Division 5
No. 2 Palo Alto (6-6) vs. No. 5 Monterey (8-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Sequoia-Redwood City HS
Section titles (last one): Palo Alto 3 (2010), Monterey 1 (1998)
Series history (since 2004): Palo Alto holds a 2-0 edge, the last win was 38-16 in 2008
Points for (against): Palo Alto 273 (270), Monterey 390 (230)
Breakdown: The second-seeded Vikings go for their fourth NCS title but first since 2010 when it won a state title with Davante Adams. That CCS title was in the highest classification (Open) but the competitive equity model has knocked them to the lowest. In a 34-6 semifinal win over seaside, Declan Packer threw for two scores. Monterey is extremely balanced with 2,027 rushing yards and 1,987 via the air thanks to sophomore QB Preston White, who has also rushed for 419 yards and five scores. computer score: Palo Alto 31, Monterey 26
SBLive predicted score: Palo Alto 24, Monterey 21