What gives with these rankings?
Have we lost our collective football minds? No Del Oro? No Elk Grove? No Grant?
Those teams are here, just in the bubble category as teams that have had moments of good ball but not enough ranked wins – if any at all – to warrant a top 20 nod.
And for Del Oro, Elk Grove and Grant, we cannot remotely come close to locating the last time these three storied powers have not been ranked at the same time. The 1970s, perhaps?
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How good have these heavies been entering this season? The Golden Eagles, Thundering Herd and Pacers have combined to win 23 Sac-Joaquin Section championships spanning three divisions in 33 title-game appearances, all since 1984 (and 32 title-game showings since 1989).
Now the Big 3 is more of a Desperate 3, each needing wins in the final two regular-season games to secure a playoff spot. It can be done, and history shows it has been done.
Teams need at least two league victories to reach the playoffs, and it helps that the section rightfully views the Delta League that includes Elk Grove and Grant and the Sierra Foothill League that includes Del Oro as elite leagues, meaning extra postseason berths.
Del Oro is young team that has suffered close losses to Rocklin (22-12) and Granite Bay (28-21). The Golden Eagles are 4-5 and close with Woodcreek in Week 10 after a bye this week. A 28-6 win over No. 12 Monterey Trail of the Delta League helps the résumé, as does a 22-12 season-opening victory over state-ranked Cathedral Catholic of San Diego in the opener. Many 5-5 teams have reached the playoffs, where anything goes, and Del Oro won a CIF State title in 2015 after a 4-6 regular season.
Thinned by injuries, Elk Grove is 4-4 and likely needs just one win to secure a playoff as it closes with No. 8 Franklin and No. 9 Sheldon. Nonleague losses to No. 3 Inderkum (52-36) and Bay Area power Serra of San Mateo (42-21) do not necessarily hurt, as those are teams of acclaim. A rout of Lincoln of Stockton doesn’t hurt as the Trojans are 5-3 and in first place in the Tri-City Athletic League.
Grant is 3-5 with just one league win, over Pleasant Grove, and the Pacers finish against winless Davis and No. 6 Jesuit, the lone Delta unbeaten. The Pacers, young and mistake prone, seek their on-going section record 27th consecutive playoff berth, and they’ll have to earn it the hard way.
El Dorado is in the Top 20 at No. 17 after a heart-check 27-26 victory over No. 18 Cordova to remain unbeaten in the Sierra Valley Conference. Vista del Lago and Whitney are branked again at Nos. 19 and 20.
THE BEE’S TOP 20
With last week’s ranking in parentheses.
1. Folsom (1) 8-0
The Bulldogs are rested after a bye and close out the Sierra Foothill League slate against Rocklin and Oak Ridge, both ranked in The Bee’s top 10.
2. Oak Ridge (2) 8-0
The Trojans have a lot of players, including Austin Jarrard, who can catch the ball, block and make plays on defense for a team defined by versatility.
3. Inderkum (3) 9-0
The Tigers edged River Valley 25-20 and have won their 11th league title in 12 years and sixth in a row, thanks in large part to the large linemen.
4. Sacramento (4) 7-1*
Derek Shelton has had a big season at quarterback for the Dragons, who play Burbank on Saturday night at Hughes Stadium with the Metropolitan Conference title at stake.
5. Granite Bay (5) 6-2
The Grizzlies have lost to Folsom and Oak Ridge, and have a nice opening win over Delta League leader Jesuit as they close in on their 19th consecutive playoff berth.
6. Jesuit (6) 6-2
The Marauders have a quarterback combo that works with Hank Harvego and Josh Farr, and the defense has played a role in the team’s six-game winning streak.
7. Rocklin (7) 6-2
The Thunder can shock the SFL and section with a win over Folsom. Blayden Brown and friends are up for any task.
8. Sheldon (8) 6-2
The Huskies showed championship grit with a late drive to beat Grant 30-27, and hail to kickers everywhere as Jack Dolinar had the game-winning boot.
9. Franklin (9) 6-2
The Wildcats were frustrated to lose 17-7 at Jesuit, feeling as if they set a good tone. Now they can unleash on Elk Grove on Friday in an effort to regroup.
10. Del Campo (11) 8-0
The Cougars beat Antelope 33-10 and now seek the program’s first 10-0 regular season. Experience has been the key.
11. Antelope (10) 7-1
The Titans fell to Del Campo but can still tie or win yet another Capital Valley Conference title with some good breaks down the stretch.
12. Monterey Trail (17) 5-3
Delivering knockouts to storied programs Grant and Elk Grove in successive weeks does wonders for a team’s morale. Mustangs now get Jesuit.
13. Christian Brothers (13) 6-2
Gunnor Faulk is a devastating passer, nifty runner and a focused leader. The Falcons follow his lead.
14. Lincoln (14) 7-1
The Zebras target the Pioneer Valley League crown and then a run in the Division III playoffs under impressive coach Chris Bean.
15. Placer (15) 7-1
The Hillmen can’t afford a let down as the PVL title likely is decided in Week 10 against Lincoln.
16. River Valley (19) 6-2
The Falcons nearly derailed the Inderkum express but showed a ton in defeat, specifically this: beware, playoff field.
17. El Dorado (-) 6-2
The Cougars go for the throat with late-game heroics and two-point conversions to win, including over Cordova. Coach Justin Reber has impressed in his first season in Placerville.
18. Cordova (20) 5-3
It’s not often a team moves up a couple of spots after a loss, but such is this odd nature of odd weeks in rankings. This is a good team.
19. Vista del Lago (-) 5-3
The Eagles are is back in business with dominating lineman Andrew Cokley pancaking foes, and with quarterback Grant Patterson and running back Dominick Norris providing balance.
20. Whitney (-) 5-3
Welcome back to the Top 20, Wildcats. Early losses to Granite Bay and Rocklin serve as learning and launching points.
* Does not include three forfeit losses due to seldom-used ineligible player.
Bubble teams (alphabetical order): Bear River (6-2), Bradshaw Christian (5-3), Burbank (5-3), Capital Christian (5-3), Casa Roble (4-4), Center (4-4), Colfax (6-2), Del Oro (4-5), Dixon (5-3), Elk Grove (4-4), Grant (3-5), Highlands (6-2), McClatchy (4-4), Natomas (5-3), Rio Americano (5-3), Rio Linda (5-3), River City (6-2), Woodland (5-3), Woodland Christian (7-1), Yuba City (5-4).
THE BEE’S SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION TOP 20
From 190 schools in the second-largest of California’s 10 sections.
1. Folsom (8-0)
2. Oak Ridge (8-0)
3. Central Catholic-Modesto (7-0)
4. Inderkum (9-0)
5. Sacramento (7-1)*
6. Oakdale (7-1)
7. St. Mary’s-Stockton (6-2)
8. Granite Bay (6-2)
9. Jesuit (6-2)
10. Sheldon (6-2)
11. Franklin (6-2)
12. Vacaville (4-3)
13. Rocklin (6-2)
14. Del Campo (8-0)
15. Manteca (6-2)
16. Gregori-Modesto (8-0)
17. Antelope (7-1)
18. Turlock (6-2)
19. Modesto (6-2)
(TIE) 20. Downey-Modesto (8-1)
(TIE) 20. Vintage-Napa (6-1)
* Does not include three forfeit losses due to seldom-used ineligible player.
This week’s schedule (Oct. 26-28)
Oakmont at No. 10 Del Campo
No. 19 Vista del Lago at El Camino
No. 7 Rocklin at No. 1 Folsom
No. 2 Oak Ridge at Nevada Union
Woodcreek at No. 5 Granite Bay
No. 6 Jesuit at No. 12 Monterey Trail
Pleasant Grove at No. 8 Sheldon
No. 9 Franklin vs. Elk Grove at Cosumnes Oaks
No. 11 Antelope at Bella Vista
No. 13 Christian Brothers at Casa Roble
Foothill at No. 14 Lincoln
No. 15 Placer at Bear River
No. 16 River Valley at Yuba City
No. 17 El Dorado at Galt
Liberty Ranch at No. 18 Cordova
Cosumnes Oaks at No. 20 Whitney
Grant at Davis
Ponderosa at Roseville
Capital Christian at Natomas
Florin at Kennedy
Colfax at Center
Foresthill vs. Western Sierra at Mahany Park
Golden Sierra at Highlands
Rio Vista at San Juan
Union Mine at Rosemont
Rio Linda at Pioneer
McClatchy vs. Laguna at Hughes Stadium
Valley vs. Johnson at Cosumnes River College
Lundhurst vs. Dixon at Yuba College
Mira Loma vs. Rio Americano at Del Campo
No. 4 Sacramento vs. Burbank at Hughes Stadium
No. 3 Inderkum