NCS title-game predictions

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
Last week: 2-2. Season: 74-26.

NCS Division II finals
The pick: No. 4 Eureka 26, No. 3 Montgomery 7
Comment: I tried to imagine different scenarios in which Montgomery could win this game. The problem? I couldn’t see the Vikings’ offense doing much against Eureka’s defense, which looked extremely cranky when I saw them play last week.* I sense the Vikings are legitimately excited to face Soma Vainuku, but not even heart, toughness and desire can consistently wrap up 255 pounds.
* Some teams hit harder than others. And in my experience, the hardest-hitting teams come from places that — how to put this? — you don’t want to live. I played Pop Warner and freshman football in Santa Barbara (I quit playing football to devote my energies to a stunningly mediocre baseball career) and we had a range of socioeconomic backgrounds respresented on my teams. Because it was Santa Barbara we had guys whose moms drove Mercedes and Jaguars and others whose moms hopped on the city bus. Anyway, I noticed that when we played teams such as Lompoc and Orcutt — towns removed from Santa Barbara’s palm trees and gourmet sandwich shops — it was generally a good idea to buckle our chinstraps tighter. I never got the sense that any of the Lompoc kids were going home in a BMW 530i. This is not to suggest Eureka is a place you don’t want to live (I’ve never even driven through), or that the parents of the Eureka players don’t own wonderful cars. I’m just saying that watching Eureka dismantle 12-0 Petaluma last week reminded me of getting hit — really, really hard — by a wild-eyed linebacker from Orcutt and feeling like my shoulder was lying on the 42-yard line. Does that make sense?

NCS Division IV finals
The pick: No. 7 Fort Bragg 22, No. 9 Justin-Siena 17
Comment: Fort Bragg is not a one-man show — players such as Brent Moyer and Cody Lowe are bonafide stars — but RB Jake Cimolino is the type of player that won’t let his team lose. If Cimolino wasn’t banged up for two games — both Fort Bragg losses — it’s not a stretch to think Fort Bragg could have gone 10-0 and received a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. That’s, in effect, what the Timberwolves are: A No. 1 seed in disguise.

Last week’s picks:
The pick: Eureka 34, Petaluma 27
The score: Eureka 39, Petaluma 7

The pick: St. Vincent 24, St. Elizabeth 13
The score: St. Elizabeth 26, St. Vincent 13

The pick: Casa Grande 28, Montgomery 20
The score: Montgomery 14, Casa Grande 7

The pick: Fort Bragg 23, Salesian 21
The score: Fort Bragg 41, Salesian 28