Franklin, Burbank and Yuba City, enjoying special seasons and earning high seeds for the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs, will face dangerous first-round opponents Friday.
Franklin (10-0), the No. 1 seed in Division I and ranked No. 9 in the state and No. 2 in Northern California by Cal-Hi Sports, will play host to No. 16 Nevada Union (5-5), and No. 2 Burbank (10-0) will play No. 15 Grant (5-5), a rematch of their nonleague meeting earlier this season won by the Titans 36-27.
Yuba City (9-1) earned the No. 2 seed behind 10-0 Folsom in Division II, but the Honkers will face No. 15 Del Oro (5-5), the two-time defending D-III section champion and a team some view as capable of winning the division.
"Wow, for earning a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, that's really rough," said Sacramento High coach Paul Doherty, whose Dragons qualified as a No. 7 seed in Division III and finished second to Burbank in the Metro Conference. "I'm a proponent of the wins formula for the playoffs because it helps a program like us that doesn't play in a strong league. But for those guys, that's not much of reward for such good seasons.
"I think Burbank is a little better than Grant this year, but it's tough to beat a good football team twice."
Del Oro, having gone 1-4 against challenging nonleague opponents, qualified for the playoffs Friday with a last-second field goal to beat Rocklin 38-35.
Despite that tough loss, Rocklin (5-5) also made the D-II field as a No. 13 seed and will play at No. 4 Antelope (9-1).
Placer (10-0) will be the top seed in Division IV, not Division III as many expected.
The Hillmen, who play Hilmar (6-4) on Friday, are viewed as the front-runners to play in the inaugural CIF Northern California Regional playoffs, though they must win a section championship to be eligible.
Center (8-2), which lost 15-14 in the final minutes to Placer on Friday in a Pioneer Valley League title battle, also is in the D-IV field as the No. 10 seed. The Cougars will play at No. 7 Dixon (9-1) on Friday.
Oakdale (9-1) is the No. 1 seed in D-III and Vista del Lago (9-1) the No. 2 seed. Coach Chris Jones' Eagles will play No. 15 Lincoln (5-5) on Saturday at Folsom High School.
In other D-I openers of note, defending section champion Granite Bay (7-3), which went undefeated in the Sierra Foothill League after starting 2-3, is seeded No. 5 and will play host to No. 12 Napa (7-3); No. 3 Oak Ridge (9-1) will host No. 14 Enochs of Modesto (6-4), and No. 10 Pleasant Grove (6-4) travels to No. 7 Stagg of Stockton (9-1).
Defending section champion Vacaville (7-3) is seeded No. 9 in D-II but gets to play host to No. 8 Rio Linda (8-2) on Friday because it won the Monticello Empire League title. Rio Linda finished second to Del Campo in the Capital Valley Conference.
In other D-II openers to watch, No. 3 Elk Grove (9-1) hosts No. 14 Ponderosa (6-4); and No. 6 Del Campo (8-2) faces No. 11 Whitney (8-2) at home.
In other top D-III matchups involving area teams, No. 6 Inderkum (8-2) plays host to Manteca (6-4) on Friday; No. 5 Cosumnes Oaks (8-2) will host No. 12 Christian Brothers (6-4) on Saturday; and No. 10 El Camino (7-3) will play at No. 7 Sacramento (8-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
In all, section officials seeded 76 teams for their six playoff divisions.
For the four 16-team large-school divisions, the champion and runner-up from each of the 20 leagues earned automatic berths. The next 24 teams with the most total wins received at-large berths, with opponents' total number of wins used to break ties.