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Top Teams Will Anchor Div. II-III-IV Brackets
By: Mike Ray, Gold County News Services
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While it’s still a little fuzzy on some points, bit-by-bit the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s football playoff picture is starting to sort itself out, well, sort of. And, while there are two more weeks of regular season play to solidify the final pairings for the 64-team Div. I-IV brackets that will be released on Sun. Nov. 6, here are some bullet points of interest that could make the 2011 post season one to remember: ·Is Div. II loaded or what? – It still remains to be seen whether the local area will have a representative at the Div. II level but there is a distinct possibility that seven teams could enter this playoff bracket with records of 9-1 or better. And how would you like to be one of those 9-1 teams that could open in the first round against a 7-3 Grant team? ·Speaking of Div. III….- The Div. III playoff picture – with or without Del Oro and or Placer – might be more loaded record wise than Div. II. While there would be less nine or more win projected teams than in Div. II, as many as eight or more 8-2 squads is a viable reality. Again, how would you like to be an 8-2 squad that draws a 7-3 Vista del Lago or Patterson team in the first round? ·And in Div. IV….The label Div. IV does this division injustice this season when you have the possibility of eight teams headed for this playoff bracket at 8-2 or better. Again, it’s no picnic when you think about opening the playoffs at home against a group that could include the likes of Liberty Ranch, Bear River, Sonora or Central Catholic. ·Five Is Enough – For the first time since the CIF expanded its playoff system in 2009, it appears that as many as five to six teams with five-wins will qualify for the playoffs as at-large teams. In previous seasons, there have been teams with five or less wins qualify but that was done via automatic berths as league second place teams. ·Nine Isn’t Enough ? – A year ago, Union Mine played in the Div. IV playoffs and advanced all the way to the semi-finals before falling to Calaveras. This year the Diamondbacks are doing well (4-3, 3-1) and have Sean Tow, the current leading rusher in the state. But unless the Diamondbacks can knock off Vista del Lago this week and River City next week, the El Dorado team could be sitting home when the playoffs call. Because Union Mine opted not to fill its Sierra Valley Conference bye week and did not play zero week, the Diamondbacks’ nine game schedule – with a loss to either Vista or River City - may not have enough wins by opponents to earn an at-large berth. The easiest route for Union Mine is to win out and gain one of the SVC’s two automatic berths. ·Injury Update – Two teams expected to be in the thick of the hunt for the CIF State Div. III north bowl bid took big injury hits the past week. Defending CIF State Div. III champion Escalon looks like it will have to go the rest of the way without all-state two-way tackle Nate Caton, a 6-foot five-inch 230-pound mainstay who suffered a season ending knee injury. In addition, Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, the current No. 1 Div. III school in the Cal-Hi Sports Div. III state north bowl poll, lost starting quarterback Matt Sullivan to a broken leg in a 41-35 win over Montgomery last weekend. Playoff Scenario Here’s an updated look at area teams and the multiple playoff possibilities thast still exist: Bear River (6-2, 1-2) – The Bruins are the lone local team that needs one more league win to become playoff eligible. Bear River ends its regular season with an away game at Foothill Friday and then at home vs. Colfax on Nov. 4. Unless the Falcons lose Friday to Lincoln and Placer isn’t upset by either Center or Foothill, the Bruins don’t have a shot at a piece of the PVL title. However, two season-ending wins to get to 8-2 could muster Bear River a first round home playoff game. Colfax (8-0, 3-0) – Last Friday’s 41-28 win over Placer put the Falcons into an envious position but Colfax needs to close the door by defeating Lincoln this Friday for last week’s victory to mean anything. If the Falcons defeat the Zebras, Colfax would secure the Pioneer Valley League’s No. 1 automatic playoff berth and a piece of the PVL title regardless of what happens Nov. 4 versus Bear River. A win over Lincoln would also – barring a Hilmar (8-1) win Friday versus Escalon (8-0) – most likely give the Falcons a No. 1 or 2 seed in Div. IV - and three home games that go with it. Meanwhile, two losses and an 8-2 Falcons team would be an at-large team. Del Oro (7-1, 3-0) – The Golden Eagles are in the same boat as Colfax. A win on Friday versus Roseville (5-3, 2-1) would secure the Black and Gold a piece of the Sierra Foothill League crown and the league’s No. 1 playoff berth, regardless of what the team does in its Nov. 4 finale versus Woodcreek. Del Oro, because it probably won’t know if its Div. II or III for the post season until next week, also needs to win out to finish 9-1 and have a shot at a preferred seeding in what is expected to be a highly competitive pair of brackets. Placer (6-2, 2-1) – The Hillmen have qualified for the post season but they are awaiting to see if they will enter either Div. III or Div. IV as either a league champion, co-champion with a No. 2 berth or barring an upset loss at the hands of Center or Foothill, an at-large entry. If form holds and the Hillmen win out, Placer’s 8-2 mark would most likely earn the Hillmen a No. 6 through No. 8 seed without Del Oro in Div. III and a little lower with the Golden Eagles in Div. III. Meanwhile, If the Hillmen are Div. IV, either as a champ, co-champ or an at-large, a No. 3 to 5 seed is still possible. Foresthill (7-1, 5-0) – The Wildfires need a win Friday at home against Woodland Christian to clinch at least a tie for the Sacramento Metro championship. However, a shot at an outright title may have to wait until the Wildfires travel to Clarksburg on Nov. 4 to meet second place Delta. Foresthill, which already owns a 28-0 win over Delta, looks by winning its last two games to a No. two seed in the Div. IV playoffs.