More Unique Div. IV Playoff Match-ups Brewing Friday Night
The vast CIF Sac-Joaquin Section stretches from Merced in the south to Marysville in the north and from Mariposa in the east to Napa in the west. So huge is the 196-school section that every once in awhile there will be football playoff match-ups that are indeed unique.
Such is the case in Friday’s Div. IV football quarter-final playoff games. Now in the fourth year of the CIF playoff format that is enrollment based, three of the four quarter-final games are first time match-ups.
· When Escalon (9-2) visits Placer (11-0) Friday night it will mark the Cougars’ first trip to Placer County since the valley school defeated Colfax, 17-12, in a 1998 CIF semi-final playoff game played in a rain storm and mud bog on Marson Field. The conditions were so bad in that game that Escalon coach Mark Loureiro had his team employ a rubber football. Following that game, Colfax coach Tony Martello asked the school to tear up his field and install an elaborate drainage system under a Bermuda-based turf. The CHS Football Boosters anted up and today the Falcons have one of the finest real-grass fields around.
· Also, other than two road playoff wins over Joey Montoya’s Pioneer of Woodland squads in 2004 and 2005, Escalon’s only games in the Sacramento region over the past 10 years were a 2010 win at Dixon and a 2006 win at Kennedy of Sacramento. “We just don’t get up that way a lot,” said Loureiro. “In the playoffs anyway, we’ve been fortunate where we’ve mostly been playing at home.”
· While Escalon will come north to play at Placer in the first-ever meeting between the two schools, two of the other three quarter-finals will also be first-time “How do you do” encounters when Center (9-2) heads down Highway 49 to Jackson to play Argonaut (11-0) and Los Banos (10-1) comes up I-5 to take on Capital Christian (9-2) in Sacramento. The Los Banos-Capital Christian match-up is interesting when you consider just three years ago in 2009, Los Banos was in the Div. I playoffs and Capital Christian was Div. V. The other quarter-final game, Central Catholic at Ripon, will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2007, something rare for two schools located just 10 miles apart.
In 2010, Del Oro defied the odds makers by winning three of four playoff games on the road – including long trips to East Union of Manteca and Patterson – on its way to winning the CIF Div. III section crown. After Friday’s 45-21 win at Yuba City to open the Div. II playoffs, the No. 15 seed Golden Eagles may be up to their old tricks. “We felt we got exposed early in the year, but we corrected some of those things through our personnel and we feel we're playing as good as anybody around right now," said Del Oro coach Casey Taylor following the game. “We’re battled tested. We're excited and very humbled to be playing next week." This week the Golden Eagles, 6-5, play at St. Mary’s of Stockton. In 2009, Del Oro defeated St. Mary’s in Stockton, 30-29.
In the “What Have You Done For Me Lately” department, Placer’s Hillmen actually dropped in the most recent Cal-Hi Sports North Bowl rankings – remarkably after being moved from the Div. II to Div. III poll. The Hillmen, for the most part, were the No. 1 rated team in Cal-Hi’s Div. II North bowl poll for the past six weeks. But following their 15-14 win over Center and the announcement that they would be playing in Div. IV for their section playoffs, Cal-Hi dropped Placer into the No. 3 position behind No. 1 El Cerrito and No. 2 Marin Catholic in the state Div. III rankings. El Cerrito is one of the highest scoring teams in the state averaging nearly 56 points a game and reportedly with six to seven Div. I caliber athletes while Marin Catholic is led by 6-5 195-pound quarterback Jared Goff who has verbally committed to Cal. They are on a collision course to play for the North Coast Section Div. III crown.
Wildfires Rarin' To Go
After sitting out the first round of the Div. VI playoffs with a bye last weekend, Foresthill figures to be in a battle royle when Southern League tri-champion Ripon Christian calls on the Wildfires Friday night at 7 p.m. Ripon Christian, which tied Waterford and Le Grand for the SL crown, opened the playoffs last week with a 42-22 win over Elliot Christian of Stockton. The Knights are led by quarterback Danny Vos who has thrown for 1,867 yards and 22 TDs. Running back Andrew Brown, meanwhile, has added 1,410 more yards rushing.