Three 10-0 teams stand on top of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division III pedestal.
However, only one gets crowned the No. 1 seed come Sunday, Nov. 8.
Camarillo, Palmdale and Bishop Diego (Santa Barbara) are all that’s left from the ranks of the unbeaten. And all three will be heading into a group of death that features the reigning section champion (Paso Robles), former section title holders (Lompoc, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, etc.) and teams ending the year on a hot streak (Lompoc and AG).
It’s time to sort out this cabinet of goodies for this division, which one year ago produced a state playoff qualifier in the Paso Robles Bearcats. Here’s who I believe deserves the No. 1 and which teams could challenge for the title:
NO. 1 SEED: CAMARILLO
The case: Victories over state ranked Arroyo Grande and Calabasas, plus wins over Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Paso Robles and St. Bonaventure (Ventura).
I don’t see how or why the Scorpions won’t land the No. 1 seed. What more do the Scorps have to do? Drop 80 on an opponent and impress the College Football Playoff committee?
This team has toppled opponents featuring college-ready talent, particularly Calabasas, St. Bonnie, T.O and Newbury Park; all of which has multiple NCAA Division I prospects or commits on its roster.
It’s been a solid reversal for Camarillo. One season ago, the Scorps needed a miracle Hail Mary from Jake Constantine and Frankie Tostado to seal an at-large berth at 6-4. But now, Camarillo has positioned itself to be the No. 1.
NO. 2 SEED: ARROYO GRANDE
The case: Victories over Lompoc, Independence (Bakersfield), St. Joseph (Santa Maria) and Atascadero. Plus the outright PAC-5 championship.
Arroyo Grande’s last lost was against the projected No. 1 seed. Since then, the Eagles have been red-hot with a power running game and takeaway machine on defense.
If things go the way it’s projected, the bracket could pit another playoff matchup between the Eagles and the next team highlighted…
NO. 3 SEED: LOMPOC
The case: Victories over Santa Ynez and St. Joseph and the outright Los Padres League title.
Lompoc had a 41.1 rating according to Max Preps during the week of Nov. 7, giving the Braves the third-highest rating among the Northern Division III field. However, the downside for the Braves is their 12.5 strength of schedule rating, which placed them at 12th.
Lompoc’s season opening loss to AG likely puts the LPL champs at the No. 3 slot, which could mean rematches against projected No. 15 seeds Righetti (Santa Maria) or Pioneer Valley (Santa Maria) in the bottom half of the bracket.
NO. 4 SEED: THOUSAND OAKS
The case: Victories over Ventura (Channel League champion) and Newbury Park.
This spot could come down to the Lancers and Atascadero, which defeated PR 31-14 plus owns a better league record than T.O. at 3-1 in the PAC-5. St. Joseph should also be in the mix for the four spot with its 8-2 record.
But once again, there’s the strength of schedule argument.
Thousand Oaks ranked higher than both Atascadero and St. Joseph in that category with a 22.4 score. The season opening win over Ventura and season finale victory over Newbury Park looks great on T.O’s application for a higher seed.
WHERE DOES THE OTHER 10-0 TEAMS STAND?
Bishop Diego has never had a perfect regular season under 12-year head coach Tom Crawford. Yet, even with the 10-0 mark, the Cardinals could wind up no higher than the No. 6 seed.
Two gleaming wins for the Cards is the 43-20 thumping of Immanuel (Reedley), which got awarded the No. 1 seed in the Central Section’s Division V bracket and the narrow 29-21 victory over Santa Fe Christian, which went 9-1.
But Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo) was the only other non-losing team that got defeated by the Cards…and the Royals play in the lower Northwest XI field.
As for Palmdale, the Falcons mainly flew past teams in the desert region. The speed of the 805 scene could be vastly different. A No. 7 seed could be in the works.
THE NON-UNBEATENS THAT COULD MAKE A RUN
Lompoc became a different team following its 34-28 defeat at AG. Arroyo Grande renewed itself following its 27-13 home loss to Camarillo.
Both teams have since won a combined 16 straight games – and are looking poised for another deep playoff run.
They win on defense and a committee of backs. The key for both will be winning through the air when needed. But one of these teams could challenge CGM’s pick for the NDIII crown Camarillo for the title game.