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CIF Playoff Primer: Myriad Possibilities Exist

Area Teams Head Into Final Week
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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The high school football post season is a week away and while the prep playoffs are always fun to talk about, it sometimes can make you dizzy trying to comprehend. Now in its second season of a new format, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s postseason will include 64 teams in Division I through IV. That tallies out as 20 respective league champions and runner-ups and 24 at-large teams. Locally speaking, the possibilities for Pioneer Valley League teams abound. They include myriad twists and turns that have some teams who have already qualified for the post season, not knowing this week what division they will be playing in. And even in the southern part of the section, who will play whom and where has coaches mulling the different scenarios. Longtime Escalon coach Mark Louriero, whose team as the Trans Valley League champion look to be a No. 1 seed either in Div. 4A or 4B, likes the expanded new system – somewhat. As Louriero sees it, Escalon will either be the smallest school by enrollment in the Div. IV A bracket or the biggest school in the Div. IV B bracket. “I like the new playoffs but I’m wondering why a game between Vacaville and Wood should affect us,” said Louriero. “It’s really out of our hands.” A lot of the playoff puzzle will be settled this Friday night but nothing – because there are six Saturday games around the section this week - will be set in stone until the CIF office in Lodi announces its final brackets late Saturday afternoon. Here’s a capsule look at the playoff picture for local area teams: Colfax (7-2, 4-0) – The Falcons cinched at least a share of the PVL pennant with last week’s 28-7 win at Lincoln but Colfax is far from having secured the league’s No. 1 seed. To do that they will have to get past Bear River (7-2, 3-1) this Friday at Colfax. With a win the Falcons, with 865 students, look to be either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in Div. IV B. If the Falcons lose Friday, they would earn an at-large playoff berth but with seven wins most likely drop to a No. 3-6 seed. Bear River (7-2, 3-1) – The Bruins – and a whole lot of Placer followers – are looking to knock off the Falcons Friday. If that happens, and Placer defeats Foothill, a three-way tie for the league title would exist between the Falcons, Bruins and Hillmen. In that case, because all teams would be 1-1 against each other, the CIF would use its 13-point tie-breaker to decide seeding purposes. Going into Friday’s Colfax-Bear River game, the Falcons are plus 3 via its 24-21 win over Placer. Placer is at plus 10 after maxing out the 13 points in a 34-13 win over Bear River and the three-point loss at Colfax. Bear River, meanwhile, is currently at minus 13. The Bruins, with an enrollment of 1,016 look to be headed to Div. IV A. However, Bear River, even with a win at Colfax, can go to the playoffs at best as the PVL’s No. 2 team unless Placer loses to Foothill. Placer (7-2, 3-1) – The Hillmen need to take care of business at Foothill Friday and then let the chips fall as they may. Like Escalon, Placer is what could be considered a “bubble team”. The Hillmen, with 1,366 students, could be the biggest school in Div. IVA or one of the smaller enrollments in Div. III. Placer followers should keep an eye on Friday games that pair Woodland and Pioneer, Los Banos and Livingston, Dixon versus Capital Christian and Woodcreek versus Del Oro. Remarkably, outcomes on those four games will most likely determine where Placer lands in the final divisional brackets. Del Oro (5-4, 3-1) – The Golden Eagles have only two routes that they can take to reach the playoffs. The first they control: defeat Woodcreek Friday night. The second - with a loss to Woodcreek - would also take a Rocklin loss at Nevada Union. In any three-way tie-breakers for second place with Rocklin involved, the Golden Eagles lose out. Del Oro can also perhaps reach the postseason with five wins. If five-win teams are considered, the Golden Eagles, because of their opponents wins, would have an outside shot as an at-large team. Foresthill (6-3, 6-1) – Going into the final week of the season, the Wildfires are the only local area team that has cinched an automatic playoff berth as the league’s No. 1 or No. 2 team. That will be decided on Friday when Foresthill hosts Delta at 7 p.m. with the championship of the Sacramento Metro Athletic League on the line.