Oakdale High could be among the first to benefit from the new State Bowl format, which provides opportunities for twice as many teams.
The first six years in this system, the state's 10 section commissioners selected the 10 bowl teams five from the north, five from the south.
Oakdale went 13-1 in 2007 and lost a vote to a 13-0 Novato team for the bid to the Division 2 Bowl. The commissioners will vote again Sunday, after this week's section championship games across the state, but this year they'll be selecting 20 teams.
That's added a level of excitement to section finals. Every team kicks off believing it has a shot at one of the two NorCal spots in the five regional bowls, and that's because most of them do.
CalHiSports, which advises commissioners prior to the vote on the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, projects Clayton Valley versus Oakdale for a NorCal D2 Bowl. Under the old system, CalHi would expect CV (11-1) to beat Oakdale in Sunday's vote. Of course, no one goes anywhere if they lose in a final. Only section champions are eligible for a regional bowl.
Doubling the size of the regional field also gives Escalon hope that it might qualify for the Division 3 Bowl with an upset of Central Catholic Saturday. With the North Coast champ certain to get a spot, that leaves one.
Escalon, with the momentum from a win Saturday, could win Sunday's vote versus Northern champion Sutter. Central Catholic isn't worried about a vote. A victory will earn it a spot in the Division 4 Bowl and CalHi expects the Raiders would get McClymonds of Oakland.
No. 1 Oakdale (12-1) vs. No. 2 Vista del Lago (12-1)
The Mustangs make a third straight trip to a final, after losing to Del Oro last two years. Vistas never been to a title game, but the Eagles are flying behind soph QB Matt Jimison (37 TDs, 63 percent completion) and six players with at least 20 catches. Vista scored in the final minute to win a semifinal, and its schedule was among the weakest in the bracket two wins were over D5 and D6 schools.
Few teams in Sacramento run a Wing-T, and even fewer run it right, and Oakdales worn down its foes in the second half. Oakdale beat Benicias pass attack two weeks ago, but Vista has more threats.
The Mustangs have been able to control the clock, using QB Spencer Thomas, FB Nikk Ryan and WB Marcus Northcutt to pound away at the defense. Rain and wind will benefit Oakdale, and its defense has silenced three different schemes in three playoff games speed and power running games, as well as a passing game.