Thursday Nov 03 2011
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
Plenty Still At Stake For Area Post Season Grid Qualifiers
The release of brackets for the upcoming CIF Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs will be this Saturday afternoon and at least for this year anyway, it appears that less equals more. For the first time since the Sac-Joaquin Section switched to its new enrollment-based playoff format in 2009, it appears that eight – and perhaps as many as 12 teams – could qualify this post season with less than six victories. It also marks the first time since the playoff switch two years ago that teams with five victories will enter the playoffs as at-large qualifiers. In the previous two years of the new system, there had been teams advance into the playoffs with five or less wins but those squads had done so by grabbing automatic league berths either as a champion or runner-up. “It sure looks that way,” said CIF Sac-Joaquin assistant commissioner John Williams when asked about the abundance of five-win squads that look playoff bound. “There’s still some football to be played but five wins will be getting several teams in.” Locally, this Friday night, some key games are on tap that, while may not factor in teams qualifying for the playoffs, will have a definite say in seeding. At Lake of the Pines, Colfax (9-0, 4-0) visits Bear River (7-2, 2-2) in a contest that has a plenty of Div. IV implications. The Falcons, with a win, would lock up either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Div. IV post season that could add up to three home playoff games if Colfax kept winning. Bear River, on the other hand, has already qualified for the playoffs but would like nothing more than to knock off the Falcons. In that case an 8-2 finish could elevate the Bruins into a group of teams such as Liberty Ranch Ripon, Hilmar, Central Catholic and Sonora, all looking for Div. IV seeds four through eight and at least one home playoff game. In the case of a Bear River win, a 9-1 Falcons team would probably fall either in the No. 2 or 3 spot in Div. IV while the Bruins would probably be in the top eight. Also, Bear River, with a win and a combination of Central Catholic losing to Patterson and Sonora falling to Oakdale, could rise as high as number four in the Div. IV bracket. “Playing at home is a heck of a lot better than having to go on the road in the first round,” said Bear River co-coach Terry Logue. “We’ll see how it plays out.” Placer, meanwhile, as it was last season, is currently in a state of playoff limbo as the Hillmen ready for Friday’s game at Foothill. Joe Montoya’s Hillmen are definitely in the post season but until games are completed on Saturday afternoon, the Auburn gridders won’t know if they are playing in Div. III or Div. IV. While the Hillmen must win at Foothill to finish 8-2 and hope for a piece of the PVL pennant with a Bear River win over Colfax, Placer with its overall record will be a top eight seed in either Div. III or IV. Some playoff projections have the Hillmen rising as high as No. 6 or No. 7 as a Div. III team and going to No. 4 or No. 5 as a Div. IV entry. At Del Oro, the Golden Eagles are looking for a win Friday at Woodcreek to secure what is being projected as No. 2 spot behind Oakdale in Div. III. If Del Oro is bumped up to Div. II, the Golden Eagles are also looking at a No. 2 seed behind Buhach Colony. In Div. VI, Foresthill will either be a No. 1 or No 2 seed with Bradshaw Christian. Again, the CIF has noted that because the scheduled opening round of the playoffs fall on Veteran’s Day, next Friday, Nov. 11, teams have the option of playing on Thur. Nov. 10. Both schools, however, have to agree on the date switch and notify the CIF by Monday.