Prep Football

Meanwhile in Modesto....

Nothing Small-time About MC-Central Semi-Final Clash
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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While Highway 49 counterparts Placer and Sonora collide Friday night at LeFevbre Stadium in a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. IV semi-final football game that could be dubbed the “Gold Rush Bowl”, 100 miles to the south the eyes of Stanislaus County will be on a pair of small private schools battling in the section’s lower bracket semi-final that perhaps has bigger stakes on the line. In what is being called the biggest game in Modesto prep football annals this decade, Modesto Christian (12-0) risks its unbeaten record against perennial small school power and cross-town rival Central Catholic (11-1). Friday’s MC-Central Catholic winner will then battle the Placer-Sonora survivor next Friday night at Lincoln High in Stockton for the Div. IV title. While hoisting a section title pennant is not small potatoes, MC and Central are looking at a bigger picture. “Because of their enrollments, both Modesto Christian and Central Catholic are state bowl game candidates,” said Modesto Bee prep sports editor Rich Estrada. “If either of them wins out, it’s going to be hard to keep them out of a bowl game.” While Placer (1370) and Sonora (1349) both have enrollments that would place them as candidates for a Div. II bowl bid if either emerges as the section champion, both the Hillmen and Wildcats are far down the ladder in the latest Cal-Hi Sports Div. II North ratings. At the top of the most recent Div. II North rankings are the likes of Rocklin, Del Oro, Inderkum, Del Campo, St. Francis of Mt. View, Encinal of Alamda and Oakdale. So how did it come about that two the two small co-ed Modesto private schools located only five miles apart, are one game away from facing an opponent more than three times its size in a section title game ? It goes back to last spring when the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section revealed its new playoff format for football that was based for the first time mostly on enrollment. “In the first proposal for Div. IV we had a lot of negative feedback from some of the smaller leagues,” said assistant commissioner John Williams. Williams noted that it was brought out that in a 16-team bracket, some public schools with 500 or 600 students could be matched up with say a Whitney (1505) or Lincoln (1478) in a first round game. “When your talking about the difference between 2,000 and 2,800 students it’s not that big” said Williams. “But 500 and 1,500 is.” The section then went back to the drawing board and tweaked its plan and came up with two Div. IV brackets, a ‘A’ for the eight largest enrollments and a ‘B’ for the next eight in size. “I know Placer and Sonora both have fine teams but that winner better not overlook MC or Central,” said Escalon coach Mark Lureriro who had his team ran over by Modesto Christian, 49-7, in last week’s second round. “There’s nothing small about either one of these teams.”