Mark your calendars, here are the best high school football games of the season

There are many reasons to attend a high school football game. Rivalries. The best rookies and teams. Marching bands. Community spirit.

Coming out of a pandemic, coaches and administrators say enthusiasm is at an all-time high. Being coerced, of course, did not sit well with the students.

Beyond a terrific opening week streak, here are some other matchups worth watching this season. (All games are at 7 p.m. unless otherwise specified.)

Next Friday

Serra at De La Salle-Concord (8 p.m.): The early season game could go a long way in deciding the Northern California Open Division representative. The annual state power rivalry was halted in 2016 after De La Salle’s 10 straight wins. The talent gap has narrowed considerably since then.

Campolindo-Moraga to Aptos (7:30 p.m.): Two of the best and most colorful coaches around – Kevin Macy of Campo and Randy Blankenship of Aptos – and an interesting twist. Aptos bombarded hosts Campolindo 49-0 last season. Campo bounced back and won his seventh North Coast Section crown under Macy’s.

Bellarmine at McClymonds-Oakland (7:30 p.m.): Both are great programs, but somehow they’ve never played each other before.

September 9

Saint Francis to De La Salle (7:30 p.m.): It’s rare that the Spartans can use recovery as motivation, but given the Lancers snapped De La Salle’s 318-game unbeaten streak in Northern California last season (31-28 on Sept. 10), the Spartans will likely play with extra focus.

September 16

Folsom at Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m.): Pittsburg features 5-star QB Jaden Rashada and five wide receivers offered in Division I. Folsom has a high-octane offense. It should be wild. Folsom, who beat the visiting Pirates 38-17 last season, is powered by 6-6 junior QB Austin Mack, who completed 20 of 26 last week for 342 yards and five touchdowns.

September 23

Folsom to De La Salle: No more redemption possible for De La Salle. Folsom ended the Spartans’ 2021 season with a 28-27 road win, ending a 43-year drought for Sac-Joaquin Section teams against the national juggernaut.

Menlo-Atherton to Wilcox-Santa Clara: Wilcox can stop the quickest of offenses by simply controlling the ball. Great contrast in offenses.

Serra in Saint-Francois: What a way to open the West Catholic Athletic League game. The powers went their separate ways last season, St. Francis routed the Padres 43-21 to decide the league title. Serra turned things around three weeks later in the Central Coast Section Division 1 final, winning 16-12.

September 30

(All games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise specified)

Friday

Central Catholic-Modesto (1-0) at n°6 Saint-François: Visiting Small School Power has won four state titles and is taking on all challengers. The Raiders also scheduled Serra and National No. 1 St. John Bosco-Bellflower. St. Francis lost 10 defensive starters from last year’s team 11-1.

Corona del Mar (1-0) at No. 11 Los Gatos: Another fantastic crossplay features a high-powered Corona del Mar offense that racked up nearly 500 yards last week in a 41-10 win over Downey. Corona del Mar QB David Rasor (3,400 career passing yards, 49 touchdowns) is committed to UC Davis. Los Gatos QB Jake Boyd threw for nearly 1,900 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2021.

Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton vs. No. 14 Sacred Heart Cathedral (at Kezar Stadium): The Irish host, under new coach Antoine Evans, opens the defense of his 4-A State title behind linebackers Jerry Mixon (Oregon commit) and RL Miller (Arizona State). Sacred Heart Prep returns 12 starters from last season, including Carter Shaw, son of Stanford head coach David Shaw.

Serra n°3 at Folsom (1-0): The CIF chose Serra over Folsom to represent NorCal in the Open Division state title game, which raised a few eyebrows. Now teams decide things on the pitch when they first meet. Two of the best junior QBs in the state meet in this one, Serra’s Maealiuaki Smith and Folsom’s Austin Mack.

Salinas at No. 5 Clayton Valley-Concord: Salinas features Cal-bound point guard Nyziah Hunter and experienced QB Adam Shaffer. The Eagles counter with big lines and tout transfer QB Christian Aguilar from Pittsburg.

Saturday

No. 8 Bellarmine at No. 4 Menlo-Atherton (2 p.m.): The teams have shared their last six encounters, with Bellarmine winning one of the best games of 2021, 56-41. Menlo-Atherton tweeted Thursday that the CSC had made a decision on wide receiver Jurrion Dickey, a transfer, but did not release details. Inquiries with the school and the CCS were not immediately returned.

Granada-Livermore at n°15 Riordan (2 p.m.): New Riordan coach Adhir Ravipati has at least three returning stars in DL Isiah Chala, WR-DB Zachary Jones and CB/RB Javius ​​Redding.

-Mitch Stephens


McClymonds-Oakland in Pittsburgh: The highly anticipated 2019 match was canceled due to poor air quality due to wildfires. They’ve only played once, a 26-21 McClymonds win at Pittsburgh in 2010.

October 1st

Balboa at Lincoln (2 p.m.): The teams split the final two games of Turkey Day and, as overwhelming AAA favorites, will meet again. This serves as a mid-season preview.

October 14

St. Ignatius Cathedral vs Sacred Heart (at Kezar Stadium): Possibly the best Bay Area rivalry game in any sport. It will be tough to beat the bottom two, Sacred Heart Cathedral won 21-20 last fall after St. Ignace prevailed 20-17 in April 2021. Although St. Ignace leads the series 63- 28-7, Sacred Heart Cathedral won three of the last five.

21st of October

Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park in Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa: Cardinal Newman has won eight of the last 10 games between the Redwood powerhouses Empire, but Rancho Cotate won last year 19-17. With QB Liam Keaney throwing at Cal-bound Sailasa Vadrawale, Rancho Cotate could win again.

October 28

Bellarmine in Saint Francis: This could decide the WCAL championship.

October 29

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Riordan (2 p.m.): The Stanfel Cup and a Central Coast Section playoff berth could be on the line. The game will also pit first-year coaches Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Antoine Evans against Riordan’s Adhir Ravipati.

November 4

From La Salle to Clayton Valley: An East Bay coach’s prediction that Clayton Valley would win was in print. More blackboard material for De La Salle.

Los Gatos to Menlo-Atherton (2 p.m.): Highly likely to decide Santa Clara Valley’s new Peninsula Athletic League title.

Marin Catholique-Kentfield to San Marin-Novato: Not only is the clash of the defending state champions likely to decide the Marin County Athletic League crown, but 2021 San Marin starting QB Joey Cook will face his former teammates after his transfer to Marin Catholic .

Salesian-Richmond in El Cerrito: El Cerrito won last year’s game 56-0, but Salesian won a 5-A state title.

November 5

Pittsburgh to Antioch (TBA): The Big Little Game is usually big, but adding spice to this 104th meeting is the transfer of Charles Brown — Pittsburg’s top running back last season — to Antioch.

SBLive editor Mitch Stephens covers high school sports for The San Francisco Chronicle.

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