Prep football: CIF state championship bowl games preview

PASADENA, CALIF. - NOV. 25, 2022, St. John Bosco running back Cameron Jones (20) fights fort extra yardage against Mater Dei in the fourth quarter of the CIF Southern Section Championship Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Friday night, Nov. 25, 2022. Bosco won, 24-22. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Running back Cameron Jones and St. John Bosco take on San Mateo Serra in the CIF Open Division state championship bowl game on Saturday night at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

It's the final weekend of the high school football season, and five CIF state championship bowl games will be played Friday and Saturday at Saddleback College, with the rest in Northern California. Here are some of the top matchups:

Saturday

Bellflower St. John Bosco (12-1) vs. San Mateo Serra (13-0) at Saddleback College, 8 p.m.

Serra is faster, more experienced and more confident than a year ago when it was routed by Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Open Division championship game. The Padres have a top junior quarterback in 6-foot-4 Maealiuaki Smith and an outstanding junior linebacker in Jabari Mann. St. John Bosco, though, has separated itself from the rest of the teams in the state with one of its best defenses ever. It's tough to find any weakness with the Braves' speed, size and depth. It's the final high school game for quarterback Pierce Clarkson, who figures to be motivated and focused. The pick: St. John Bosco.

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Granada Hills (12-2) at Novato San Marin (12-2), 6 p.m.

The Highlanders are 0 for 7 in pass attempts this season. No problem. They run and run behind Dijon Stanley, who's averaging 12.4 yards per carry. This 4-A final figures to be an offensive shootout and it will be up to San Marin to figure out the Highlanders' double-wing attack. The pick: San Marin.

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Crenshaw (7-7) vs. San Francisco Lincoln (9-3) at Kezar Stadium, 1 p.m.

The Cougars didn't get to play in last year's playoffs when not enough players were eligible because of COVID-19. Now they're playing in the 7-A final. Coach Robert Garrett has been able to mold a young team, led by quarterback Donce Lewis and running back Andrew Wynn. Crenshaw played in the Open Division state final in 2009 against Concord De La Salle. A drop in enrollment left the Cougars reeling and struggling to regain relevancy. Running back Jamelle Newman keys Lincoln. The pick: Lincoln.

Laguna Hills (14-1) vs. San Jose Bellarmine (8-6) at San Jose City College, 6 p.m.

In this 3-A final, Bellarmine will need to have success against Hawks running back Troy Leigber, who has rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and a state-leading 42 touchdowns. The pick: Laguna Hills.

The rest of the state championship bowl games schedule:

Friday

(at Saddleback College)

Division 2-AA: Chula Vista Mater Dei (10-4) vs. Oakland McClymonds (12-1), 4 p.m.

Division 1-AA: San Diego Lincoln (12-1) vs. Concord De La Salle (10-3), 8 p.m.

Saturday

(at Saddleback College)

Division 2-A: El Cajon Granite Hills (12-2) vs. Danville San Ramon Valley (12-2), noon

Division 1-A: Bakersfield Liberty (12-2) vs. Pittsburg (12-2), 4 p.m.

Remaining games, Saturday, 6 p.m. unless noted

Division 3-AA: San Jacinto (13-2) at Sacramento Grant (11-2)

Division 3-A: Laguna Hills (14-1) vs. San Jose Bellarmine (8-6) at San Jose CC

Division 4-AA: Northwood (14-1) at Escalon (12-3)

Division 5-AA: Muir (9-6) at Hughson (12-2)

Division 5-A: Shafter (11-4) at Orland (14-0)

Division 6-AA: Escondido Classical Academy (11-3) at San Jose Santa Teresa (9-5)

Division 6-A: San Gabriel (11-3) at Atascadero (10-4)

Division 7-AA: Pinole Valley 34, Mendota 21 (played Dec. 3)

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.