Playoff upsets before the playoffs?
With three weeks left in the high school football regular season, the suspense is starting to build on just how the new CIF Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff system will actually play out this year.
While nothing is set in stone yet, there’s some early ugly rumors circulating around the section that has one team finishing 8-2 and not qualifying under the new system and another scenario where a team may finish in second place in league play and not qualify, but the teams finishing behind them in third and fourth place would.
“There’s some strange things that could happen,” said CIF Sac-Joaquin Section assistant commissioner Will DeBoard. “It’s all new to everyone. We have to wait and see how things play out.”
About this time every season, DeBoard will start doing “dry runs” on his office whiteboard hoping to get a feel of the postseason outlook.
“As we get to Week 7, we start to take a closer look at what we think will happen,” said DeBoard. “We do that to just start preparing for what could lie ahead. But there’s always a late season upset that can turn things around real quick.”
Locally, four area schools – Placer, Del Oro, Bear River and Colfax – have all met the CIF’s minimum requirement of four overall wins to be playoff eligible. But after that, things can start getting a little unsettling. Here’s a look at each of the local area team’s playoff aspirations:
Placer (7-0, 2-0)
The Hillmen are having a fantastic season. Playing in the new Foothill Valley League, Placer’s quest for a league crown may come down to a Week 10 game at Lincoln. However, the only drawback for Placer, which has a Division IV enrollment figure of 1,282 students, is that if the Hillmen win the FVL, per CIF rules, they will have to play in the postseason at the D-III level. If the Hillmen don’t win the FVL, they will remain at the D-IV level for the postseason.
Either way, Placer is expected to receive one of the four first-round byes in either D-III or D-IV. For fans not in the know, a D-III field with Placer, Capital Christian, Manteca, Merced, Antelope, Yuba City, Buhach Colony, and Sacramento High, would be a potential playoff dogfight and then some.
Even dropping down to D-IV for Placer would be no picnic, where the likes of likes of Vanden, Patterson, Pacheco and Oakdale loom.
Del Oro (7-0, 3-0)
The Golden Eagles are in the same boat as the Hillmen. Del Oro, with 1,752 students, is a D-II school playing in a D-I league. If the Golden Eagles pull off the upset of the century and get past highly touted Folsom for the Sierra Foothill League crown, Del Oro, per CIF rules would play D-I for the postseason. If not, the Golden Eagles will land in D-II, which again would still be a potent field with the likes of Inderkum, Rocklin, Granite Bay, Grant, St. Mary’s of Stockton and Central Catholic of Modesto.
Bear River (7-0, 2-0)
The Bruins are one area team that knows exactly where its playoff destination lies. Because Bear River is the defending CIF Sac-Joaquin D-V champion, again per section rules, Bear River must play D-V this season. With that in mind, the Bruins look headed for a first-round bye in the 12-team bracket. Other top-four potential seeds in D-V include Ripon, Modesto Christian, Center, Los Banos and Sonora. Regardless of the Bruins’ finish in their last three games, Bear River should begin the postseason with a home game Nov. 9.
Colfax (7-0, 2-0)
Do the Falcons win if they lose? Not a bad thought when you consider if Colfax wins the Pioneer Valley League championship, they would be potentially the smallest school (601 students) in D-V.
On the other hand if Colfax doesn’t win the PVL and lands in D-VI where it’s enrollment lies, the Falcons would most likely be a No. 1- or 2-seed with the likes of either Modesto Christian, Hilmar, or Escalon. The Falcons’ fate will come in Weeks 9- and 10 with critical contests with Bear River and Center.
Foresthill (3-4, 1-1)
Barring a major upset along the way, Foresthill may have to run the table and earn a piece of the Sacramento Metro Athletic League title to earn a D-VII postseason bid. The Wildfires’ last three games – at Woodland Christian Friday, at home versus Delta Oct. 19 and at Valley Christian Oct. 27 – will determine Foresthill’s ability to play in November.