José Luis Villegas Sateki Polaula, right, and Burbank batted away Victor Lugo and Grant when the teams met Sept. 7. The Pacers will try to avenge that 36-27 setback in a Division I playoff opener Saturday at Burbank.

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High school football notes: Burbank will see a different Grant in playoffs

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 - 10:30 am

John Heffernan's glow Friday night following his team's 10-0 regular season dimmed a bit Saturday afternoon.

The Burbank High School football coach learned the Titans' opponent in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs: Grant, the team Burbank beat 36-27 in a Week 2 thriller but not the same Pacers who stormed into the postseason.

Grant has new life after a trying season under veteran coach Mike Alberghini, who maintained that if the Pacers got into the D-I field, they could make a title run. Burbank is seeded second behind Franklin; Grant is 15th at 5-5.

"I was definitely surprised because you can't tell me that Grant isn't better than some of the other D-I playoff teams who are 5-5 or 6-4," Heffernan said. "I don't know. But I know our kids are excited, and we're definitely happy Grant is in the playoffs.

"There's a brotherhood between the programs and the coaches with the utmost respect and admiration. We root for them like they root for us because we're so similar, from the demographics to the struggles we have."

Still, for all the rapport between the programs, Sacramento City Unified School District officials moved the Friday night kickoff to Saturday at 1 p.m. at Titans Stadium on Florin Road. The reason is safety, with the perception that a night game featuring these teams is more difficult to police than a day affair.

Heffernan said he and Alberghini agree it is not their players or the fans who cause trouble. It's outside influences.

When Burbank hosted Grant on Sept. 7, the contest went without incident on the field, but a fight between teenage girls in the parking lot after the game spilled into the street.

On Sept. 28, following Burbank's home victory over Sacramento, a gunshot blocks away prompted the district to move the Titans' last two home games to 5 p.m.

"The district wants to be proactive on safety, and Sacramento Police Department officers are trying to make sure these games are safe," Heffernan said. "I don't really like it, but at least we have a home game, and Saturday home games when I grew up in the Bay Area were special.

"People need to know it's never our students or Grant's students or anything like that that cause trouble. It's the hanger-ons, the kids with nothing better to do than create problems."

Tight-knit grouping – This is how tightly bunched the D-I field is: Franklin held off Grant in the closing seconds in a Delta Valley Conference game.

Despite beating Grant in Week 1, Nevada Union gained a No. 16 seed and will play Franklin, with the Miners looming as another dangerous 5-5 draw.

Franklin beat NU in a playoff opener last season in Grass Valley.

Strange seeding – In another seeding curiosity, Rocklin (5-5) gained a No. 13 spot in D-II despite losing its regular-season finale at Del Oro (5-5), seeded 15th.

The 38-35 win over Rocklin allowed Del Oro to lock up second place behind Granite Bay, the defending D-I champion. But Rocklin's opponents totaled 60 wins compared with 59 for Del Oro's opponents, which favored the Thunder in the tiebreaker criteria by the section seeding committee.

Regardless, Del Oro and Rocklin have a tough road ahead. Rocklin plays at No. 4 Antelope, fresh off a stirring 35-27 win at Whitney to win the Capital Athletic League, and Del Oro visits No. 2 Yuba City, coming off its first league championship since 1987.

Herd seeded third – Yuba City drew its No. 2 seed in D-II over No. 3 Elk Grove, which lost only to Franklin 17-7. In short, Yuba City's lone loss, 42-33 to D-IV top seed Placer, carried more weight than Elk Grove's setback to the D-I top seed.

Punt patrol – Folsom, top-seeded in D-II with its first 10-0 regular season since 1990, has punted only four times this season. The Bulldogs never stop pushing the tempo.

"It makes me physically sick when we have to punt," Folsom co-coach Troy Taylor joked.

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