Joe Davidson

Second season arrives early in Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs

John Lagattuta (8 ) has thrown for 1,156 yards and nine touchdowns to help Davis reach the playoffs for only the third time since 1995.
John Lagattuta (8 ) has thrown for 1,156 yards and nine touchdowns to help Davis reach the playoffs for only the third time since 1995.

The Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs arrive a day early.

Because Friday is Veterans Day, most playoff openers spanning the seven divisions will be played Thursday night. The holiday affects the section playoffs every seven years, and the host schools determine the game’s day. Only Divisions I, II and III have 16-team brackets, twice as many as Divisions IV, V and VI while small-school D-VII has a four-team field.

No team has an easy road. Take No. 1-ranked Sacramento. The Dragons are the top seed in D-II, but their home grass-turf field was deemed unplayable. After being unable to find another local venue to rent, Sacramento will play at Stagg in Stockton on Friday night.

Here’s a look at some other first-round games:

Davis (5-5) vs. Cosumnes Oaks (7-3)

Division: I

When: Friday at Davis, 7 p.m.

Outlook: This is a matchup of good teams from strong leagues. The most misleading number is Davis’ victory total. The sixth-seeded Blue Devils, in the playoffs for just the third time since 1995, hail from the Delta League, where they beat fellow D-I playoff teams Elk Grove and Sheldon. Davis is led by quarterback John Lagattuta (1,156 passing yards and nine touchdowns and 357 rushing yards and seven scores) and running back Ish Perez (1,213 rushing yards, seven touchdowns). Eleventh-seeded Cosumnes Oaks, from the Capital Valley Conference, is in the postseason for the sixth consecutive season. The Wolfpack feature quarterback Austin Greer (1,264 passing yards, 15 touchdowns) and running back Jacob Trach (830 rushing yards, eight scores).

Grant (7-3) vs. Granite Bay (4-6)

Division: II

When: Friday at Grant, 7 p.m.

Outlook: This is a rematch of last season’s emotional second-round playoff game, won by Granite Bay in the wake of the Pacers coping with the shooting death of teammate JJ Clavo hours before an opening-round game in Del Paso Heights. Grant’s losses, all in Delta League play, have come by seven points to Elk Grove, six to Sheldon and three to Jesuit. The sixth-seeded Pacers extended their section record for consecutive playoff appearances to 26 behind the big-play ability of quarterback Cam Davis, running back Tyree Marcelle and wide receiver Lawrence Hardy, who wears No. 5 this season in Clavo’s memory. Eleventh-seeded Granite Bay, seeded 11th, had to win its final three Sierra Foothill League games to reach the postseason for the 18th consecutive season. The Grizzlies are averaging 162.7 rushing yards and will test for the Pacers’ stout defense.

Whitney (6-4) vs. Inderkum (8-2)

Division: II

When: Thursday at Inderkum, 7 p.m.

Outlook: Both teams are prolific. Ninth-seeded Whitney has 36 touchdown passes, 25 by Jake Cruz. Eighth-seeded Inderkum has 38 rushing touchdowns, including eight by Deo Robinson and seven by Leevi Lafaele. Inderkum has two major college recruits, quarterback/defensive back Trajon Cotton and tight end/linebacker Josh Falo. The teams have combined to make the playoffs 20 times since 2006.

Christian Brothers (8-2) vs. Cordova (7-3)

Division: III

When: Friday at Hughes Stadium, 7 p.m.

Outlook: Christian Brothers was lights-out good Friday – pun intended – in scorching Vista del Lago 74-32. The Hughes Stadium lights flickered out with 10 minutes to go and returned within 15 minutes. The third-seeded Falcons are a big-play team with quarterback Tyler Vander Waal (2,168 passing yards, 19 touchdowns) and versatile playmakers Jamarri Jackson, Carlos Stahl and Matt Marengo. Cordova, seeded 14th, is in the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons. The Lancers are led by quarterback Xavier Johnson (1,862 passing yards, 19 scoring passes, six rushing touchdowns) and running back Deante McCullough (1,339 rushing yards, 16 scores).

Liberty Ranch (8-2) vs. Placer (5-5)

Division: IV

When: Friday at Placer, 7 p.m.

Outlook: It’s old school vs. newer school in what shapes up to be a high-scoring game on the grass field at Placer’s historic LeFebvre Stadium. Placer, which opened in 1897 in Auburn, is in the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season. The second-seeded Hillmen have a punishing running attack that is averaging 290.1 yards and has scored 37 touchdowns. Mario Perez leads the ground game with 1,031 yards and 14 touchdowns. Liberty Ranch, which opened in 2009 in Galt, already has its fourth playoff team and reached the section final last season. The seventh-seeded Hawks also like to run, led by Kamil Jones (1,090 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns).

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs

First round

All games Thursday unless noted

All games at 7 p.m. unless noted

Division I

No. 16 Kennedy at No. 1 Folsom, Friday

No. 9 Sheldon at No. 8 Napa, Friday

No. 12 Lincoln-Stockton at No. 5 Turlock

No. 13 Gregori at No. 4 Elk Grove

No. 14 River City at No. 3 Oak Ridge

No. 11 Cosumnes Oaks at No. 6 Davis, Friday

No. 10 Monterey Trail vs. No. 7 Pitman at Turlock, Friday

No. 15 Modesto at No. 2 St. Mary’s

Division II

No. 1 Sacramento at No. 16 Stagg-Stockton, Friday

No. 9 Whitney at No. 8 Inderkum

No. 12 Downey at No. 5 Central Catholic

No. 13 Tracy at No. 4 Jesuit, Saturday, noon

No. 14 Central Valley at No. 3 Antelope

No. 11 Granite Bay at No. 6 Grant, Friday

No. 10 Vacaville at No. 7 Roseville, Friday

No. 15 Laguna Creek at No. 2 Del Oro

Division III

No. 16 McNair-Stockton at No. 1 Oakdale

No. 9 Vanden at No. 8 Vista del Lago

No. 12 Beyer vs. No. 5 Merced at Golden Valley

No. 13 East Union-Manteca at No. 4 Del Campo

No. 14 Cordova vs. No. 3 Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium, Friday

No. 11 Burbank vs. No. 6 Benicia at Vallejo

No. 10 Lincoln at No. 7 Yuba City

No. 15 El Camino at No. 2 American Canyon

Division IV

No. 8 Dixon at No. 1 Manteca

No. 5 El Dorado at No. 4 Los Banos, Friday

No. 6 Center at No. 3 Sierra-Manteca

No. 7 Liberty Ranch at No. 2 Placer, Friday

Division V

No. 8 Modesto Christian at No. 1 Sonora

No. 5 Ripon at No. 4 Capital Christian, Friday

No. 6 Marysville at No. 3 Calaveras, Friday

No. 7 Colfax at No. 2 Hilmar

Division VI

No. 8 Denair at No. 1 Amador, Friday

No. 5 Bret Harte at No. 4 Orestimba

No. 6 Rio Vista at No. 3 Argonaut

No. 7 Delhi at No. 2 Bradshaw Christian

Division VII

No. 2 Delta at No. 1 Stone Ridge Christian-Merced

No. 2 Brookside Christian at No. 1 Woodland Christian