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Loomis Sports Chatter

By: Mike Ray, Loomis News Correspondent
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When the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section completed its most recent realignment of leagues two years ago, the move to create six-school leagues was somewhat in vogue. For the most part, six-school leagues make scheduling much easier, there are no “byes” in league play and it allows for five weeks of preseason games in football. For the past few realignment periods, the Sierra Foothill League has mostly remained the same. In 2006, Placer, Natomas and Monterey Trail departed the SFL; and Granite Bay returned to bring it from an eight-school circuit to a six-team league. Last year, Oakmont left, replaced for the first time in football since 1981 by Nevada Union. While six-school leagues may be less of a headache for athletic directors and their scheduling, the six-team league can be a work of stress for football coaches. This year’s SFL football race not withstanding, with one week into the books, it looks like the next four weeks of league games could put coaches, teams and fans through a meat grinder. Reason in point – in six-school football leagues a team plays only five league games and the margin for error can weigh-in heavily on a team’s bid to reach the playoffs. “No doubt,” said Del Oro coach Casey Taylor when asked about this year’s SFL title chase. “It’s a one week at a time, one step at a time. You can’t afford to look ahead.” The current SFL football race is a perfect example. While it is not set in stone, past post-season breakdowns have teams reaching the six-win plateau being able to qualify for the playoffs — as long as they have the minimum of two league victories. In some early handicapping by arm-chair quarterbacks, there is a slight glimmer of hope this season that some schools with five total wins and two league victories, may have a chance at post season play. Thus far, among SFL teams, two schools (Del Oro and Granite Bay) have five wins, while three others (Roseville, Nevada Union and Woodcreek) have four victories. Rocklin rounds out the SFL field with three. Nevada Union (4-2, 0-1), which is Del Oro’s opponent Friday night in Grass Valley, is a perfect case in point of a team that over the next four weeks, like every SFL squad, is basically playing for their proverbial playoff lives. The Miners started their season with four straight wins, including one over defending Northern Nevada large school champion McQueen, of Reno, another over Monterey Trail and yet another over a previously undefeated Chico High team. Two weeks ago, the Miners fell 23-7 to Elk Grove. In that game, starting NU quarterback Kyle Cota suffered a concussion in the first quarter. Last Friday, Cota, who was completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and had thrown for 650 yards through four games, did not play in the Miners’ 28-21 loss to Granite Bay. That game was decided in the final minutes on a last minute TD pass by the Grizzlies. Cota is expected to be back at the helm of the Miners on Friday, making it another big SFL game for the Golden Eagles. But in the SFL they’re all big. Grid Picks A 7-1 week (2-1 in the SFL) was highlighted by the 49ers blasting Tampa Bay. Are the Niners for real ? They should find out Sunday at Detroit. This week: Del Oro 26, Nevada Union 21 — Golden Eagle secondary will get workout if Miners’ Kyle Cota is back at NU helm. Roseville 33, Rocklin 20 — This game is huge for Thunder post season hopes. Granite Bay 30, Woodcreek 20 — Same holds true here for Timberwolves. Elsewhere: Placer 47, Lincoln 14; Colfax 32, Foothill 18; Bear River 28, Center 10; Sierra College 33, Reedley 29; Ouch…Lions 24, 49ers 21.