Simmering all season, the prep football league races start to heat up with key games on the menu Friday that will carry implications that will linger into the postseason.
In the Pioneer Valley League, the fight for league supremacy will reach a boiling point Friday when a pair of old rivals, both trying to end league title droughts, collide at Colfax High’s Marson Stadium at 7:30 p.m. with at least a share of the PVL title on the line.
Bear River’s Bruins will bring a 8-0 overall record and a 3-0 PVL slate with them across the Dog Bar Bridge when they test Colfax’s equally undefeated 8-0 and 3-0 Falcons.
For the Bruins and Falcons, the ramifications of Friday’s game are interesting.
Bear River, the defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champion, can wrap up at least a tie for its first league championship since 2006 with a victory over the Falcons.
A Bruins’ victory would also secure Bear River the automatic PVL berth to the section postseason regardless of what happens in the Bruins’ regular-season finale Oct. 26, at Marysville.
Because they are defending section champions, the Bruins, with a victory, are expected to land in the top four seeds of the D-V playoff bracket and earn a first-round bye.
Colfax, on the other hand, with a victory can cinch at least a piece of its first league crown since the 2011 season.
Also, if the Falcons win on Friday, Colfax, despite sitting in the middle of schools with D-VI playoff enrollments, would join Bear River in D-V for postseason play because the PVL champion is required to play at the level of the league (D-V).
For Colfax, the Falcons haven’t lost since bowing to the Bruins, 30-27, in last November’s section D-V championship game played in Lodi. Earlier last season, Colfax had taken the regular season meeting with Bear River, 31-14. Colfax enters the game leading in the all-time series that dates back to 1986 with the Bruins, 17-15.
If Colfax wins Friday, the Falcons would be seeded higher in the D-V playoffs than the Bruins because of holding a head-to-head victory.
A co-championship between the Bruins and Falcons can exist but only if either Bear River falls at Marysville and/or Colfax loses to Center next week. Center, one of the PVL favorites after notching wins over Foothill Valley League contenders Rio Linda and Lincoln, is out of the title picture with two league losses.
In other area games Friday:
Ponderosa (6-2, 1-2) at Placer (8-0, 3-0), 7 p.m.
The Hillmen have moved closer to winning their seventh straight league title but the Green and Gold still have some work to do.
The Hillmen, who lead Rio Linda and Lincoln, both 2-1, can cinch at least a tie for the first FVL title with a win over the Bruins, who last Friday outlasted Nevada Union, 38-35. Also, Ponderosa, which will qualify for the CIF’s D-III playoffs, can earn a first-round home game with a split of its final two games, Friday’s test with Placer and next week’s game at Oakmont.
Del Oro (8-0, 4-0) at Rocklin (2-6, 1-3), 7 p.m.
After surviving a scare at Grant and holding on for a 22-21 victory, the Golden Eagles travel to Rocklin where the Thunder are in a fight for their playoff lives.
With a Top-12 rating in the section’s D-II rankings per calpreps.com, Rocklin looks primed to reach the playoffs sitting in the No. 8 position. However, to meet one of the section criteria for being playoff eligible, the Thunder will have to defeat Del Oro and Granite Bay next week to collar the section’s four required victories total.
Del Oro has been featuring a balanced offense this season with quarterback Carson Jarratt (1,101 passing yards, 17 TDs), running back Sheldon Conde (687 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and receivers Dawson Hurst, Johnny Guzman and Matt Smart leading the way.
Delta (3-5, 1-2) at Foresthill (3-5, 1-2), 7 p.m.
Their postseason hopes may have been dashed in a loss to co-Sacramento Metro Athletic League leading Woodland Christian last Friday. But the Wildfires can play for more than just pride when they host the Saints on Friday. Both teams enter the fray with identical season and league marks.