Three Empire Teams Near Top Of Final NCS Football Poll

Posted by Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:

Strong playoff runs pushed a trio of Empire prep football teams into the North Coast Section Top 10 in the final rankings from

Rancho Cotate took the highest spot at No. 4 following dominating play – the Cougars averaged 36 points, giving up only 15 a game over four playoff contests — and a shootout in the title contest. The late loss to Concord for the Division 2 championship took nothing away from a great 12-2 season.

Just one slot behind at No. 5 was Cardinal Newman, which also finished second to Rancho Cotate in the North Bay League. An offensive juggernaut, particularly running the ball, the Cardinals rolled up 42 points a game. On defense, Cardinal Newman – 11-3 — held a pair of teams to a single touchdown including Encinal to win the Division 3 title.

Rounding out the Top 10 was Casa Grande, the Sonoma County League champion, finishing 11-2. The Gauchos scored 31 points a game and took both playoff victories by shutouts before losing a close contest to Concord in the semifinals.

Each of the three teams climbed in the final rankings. Middletown fell out of the Top 20 after losing an overtime thriller to Salesian in the Division 4 title game. The Mustangs finished 12-2.