Sacramento has become the home for high school champions.
The state basketball championships, one of the CIF’s premier events, has been played at Sleep Train Arena for two-plus decades, and the football title games will be played at Sacramento State the next three years, a rare double in the state.
The CIF’s contract with Sleep Train Arena expires after March’s games with the antiquated building going to permanent sleep mode and the opening next fall of Golden 1 Center. The new arena will attract big events such as the NCAA basketball tournament, which would create a scheduling conflict with high school basketball.
The CIF State Bowls have been played in Carson since their inception in 2008. The roll-over contracts were not based on bias or the sunny Southern California weather, contrary to conspiracy theorists, but because the StubHub Center won the bidding wars.
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The CIF requests bids for championship events and considers many factors, including logistics, venue costs and hotel availability.
Sac State, which has successfully hosted Sac-Joaquin Section and CIF Northern California Regional football championship games, bid for the CIF Bowls two years ago, an effort spearheaded by Steve Tebbs, the university’s director of athletic facilities and operations. Losing out two years ago inspired Tebbs and his colleagues to try again.
“Very excited,” Tebbs said Monday from his office, crediting the Sacramento Sports Commission for support in the bid. “We’ve proven we can host large events here, and it’s a great opportunity for the greater Sacramento area to see the best high school football in the state with some of the best teams and players in the country coming to our turf.”
Sac State packed Hornet Stadium mostly to capacity for the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, several NCAA track championships and the 2014 USA Track and Field Championships.
Tebbs has fond memories of playing high school football at storied Palma High in Salinas. His father, Tom, is the longtime former sports editor of the Monterey County Herald. Tom Tebbs may not attend this weekend’s games, knowing his son will put him to work with a broom, a leaf blower or both. “He knows,” Steve Tebbs said with a laugh.
The state expanded the playoffs this year from five to 13 divisions, so Sac State will host upper-division or showcase games only. The other eight games will be at home sites, allowing those schools to raise more money through concessions and parking. Ticket proceeds go to the CIF, which has given millions back to its member schools over the years.
Friday games start with Del Oro, which was 2-6 in late October, taking on Camarillo (15-0) in the Divison II-AA game at 4 p.m. Del Oro (9-6) is 4-0 at Sac State in section title games this decade. Friday’s Division I-AA nightcap features Bellarmine of San Jose (13-1) – a 42-35 NorCal winner over Folsom – against Mission Viejo (15-0).
On Saturday, Clayton Valley Charter of Concord (13-1) plays Narbonne (13-2) at noon in Division I-A, followed by the Small-School Open Division game between Central Catholic of Modesto (15-0) and San Marino (15-0). The weekend will be capped by the showcase game, preseason national No. 1 De La Salle (12-1) against current national No. 1 Centennial of Corona (14-0) in the Open Division.
De La Salle once went 12 seasons without a loss, a run of 151 games ending in 2004. The Spartans have not lost to a Northern California opponent since 1991, a stretch of 271 games. They are mystical, methodical and a must-see team.
De La Salle is the only team that has played in a CIF State Bowl every year, winning six, including 63-42 over Centennial last season in a dazzling display of speed and skill.
CIF State Bowl games at Sacramento State
All games on CSNCA
- Division II-AA: Del Oro (9-6) vs. Camarillo (15-0), 4 p.m. (CSN+)
- Division I-AA: Bellarmine (13-1) vs. Mission Viejo (15-0), 8 p.m.
- Division I-A: Clayton Valley (13-1) vs. Narbonnne (13-2), noon
- Small Schools Open: Cent. Catholic (15-0) vs. San Marino (15-0), 4 p.m.
- Open: De La Salle (12-1) vs. Centennial (14-0), 8 p.m.
Available at participating schools, online at www.cifstate.org and at Hornet Stadium on game day. Adults $15; students, seniors and children $10; all tickets are for general admission and are valid for all games on a single day.
Schedule for other CIF bowls, Page 5C