The Northern California Regional football championship that debuts this weekend was created to crown the best from the North to play the best from Southern California in CIF State Bowl games.
But the leaders of the state's top-ranked team, one with a winning pedigree second to none, questioned the NorCal concept as a bit flawed.
When asked what they thought of the NorCal Open game matching the best two teams in the North De La Salle of Concord against undefeated Folsom De La Salle athletic director Leo Lopoz offered a thumbs down, defensive coordinator Terry Eidson scrunched his eyebrows and nodded, and veteran head coach Bob Ladouceur sighed.
De La Salle certainly doesn't fear Folsom (14-0), its opponent Saturday at Sacramento State in what could be considered the top high school sports event in area history. The Spartans (13-0) have played a national schedule for years and won the last three CIF State Open championships.
The De La Salle brass said they think the best two teams in Northern California should each have a shot at winning a bowl game the following weekend in Carson instead of one knocking off the other. De La Salle is ranked No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and Folsom is No. 3. The teams are 1 and 2 in Northern California by Cal-Hi and MaxPreps.
Meanwhile, Granite Bay (11-3) plays St. Ignatius of San Francisco (10-3) on Friday in the NorCal Division I championship, which means a three-loss team will represent Northern California in a bowl game.
No one from De La Salle disputes how far those teams have come or how strong they are, but, "There's going to be a great team left home from state," Eidson said.
Said Ladouceur: "(After Saturday), one of the two best teams from Northern California is off the board."
Added Lopoz: "We want the best NorCal teams in the state bowls."
The counter-argument is that the two best Northern California teams should play each other to determine which one takes on the South winner. And Folsom coaches and players are itching for a shot at De La Salle, which last lost to a Northern California team in 1991. De La Salle is 4-0 against Sacramento-area teams (Valley in 1988, El Camino in 1987, Nevada Union in 1997 and 1998) and 31-0 against Sac-Joaquin Section teams since Ladouceur became coach in 1979.
Section Commissioner Pete Saco hatched the regional idea and likes the format.
"For all the respect I have for coach Ladouceur and De La Salle, it is going to lose sometime," Saco said. "Maybe it'll be in a NorCal Open. That's the fun of this."
Coach Cat steps down A day after his father, Butch Cattolico, stepped down following a storied 41-year career as coach at Los Gatos, his son also stepped down. Joe Cattolico, the only varsity head coach at Pleasant Grove since the school opened in 2005, told his shocked team Tuesday. He will remain as a social studies teacher.
The younger Cattolico, regarded locally as a top-tier coach and person, won four Delta River League championships, reached the D-I section finals three times and won the title in 2010.
Cattolico couldn't be reached for comment, but athletic director Jeff Caton said, "He's tired. Balancing football and family and teaching is hard. I'm not totally surprised ... but it is kind of a blow. He's a great coach."
Said junior quarterback Dre Terrell, "We love Coach Cat, not just as a coach but as a person as well."
Editor's note: This story was changed Dec. 5 to correct the year that De La Salle beat Valley.