Joe Davidson

Section playoff brackets released, favoring SFL. ‘We’ll see Folsom again’

Oak Ridge Trojans’ Sam Sanders (30) pulls the jersey of Folsom Bulldogs’ Kaiden Bennett (1) during the fourth quarter Friday.
Oak Ridge Trojans’ Sam Sanders (30) pulls the jersey of Folsom Bulldogs’ Kaiden Bennett (1) during the fourth quarter Friday. Special to The Bee

Now the real season starts.

If some of the twists and turns that defined a fun fall are any indicator, then we’re in for another wild ride in the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs.

The brackets for seven divisions were released from the section’s headquarters in Lodi on Saturday afternoon as a seven-person committee crunched win-loss records, strength of schedule, strength of league and head-to-head results when applicable. Teams with 10-0 records were not automatically awarded No. 1 seeds if their league and overall schedule were not deemed as strong as teams with losses.

Because Friday will be recognized as the Veterans Day holiday, the first round begins Thursday. Teams can play on Friday or Saturday if both sides agree. This scheduling quirk happens twice every seven years, including last year when more than half the opening games were on Thursday.

All told, 78 teams will advance to the 46th section playoffs spanning divisions based on enrollment. This section is the second largest of the 10 in the state.

The Sierra Foothill League, far and away the most formidable conference in Northern California, is well represented with high seeds.

Bee No. 1 Folsom is the top seed in Division I after it beat Oak Ridge 42-28 on Friday to win the SFL with an overall 10-0 record. The Bulldogs seek their sixth section banner this decade. Oak Ridge (9-1) was awarded the No. 2 seed based on its body of work, and defending champion St. Mary’s (8-2) is the No. 3 seed having lost to national No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana and to Central Catholic of Modesto in nonleague play.

In Division II, Granite Bay (8-2) earned the top seed in reaching the postseason for the 19th consecutive year despite placing third in the SFL. But the losses were 14-7 to Oak Ridge in overtime and 35-14 to Folsom. Also looming in D-II is No. 6 seed Rocklin (6-4), which lost to Folsom, Oak Ridge and Granite Bay.

“Sweet,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said of hearing of the SFL seedings. “Great for the SFL.”

The section D-I and II finals are at Sacramento State on Dec. 2.

Oakdale, ranked No. 1 by The Modesto Bee, is the top seed in D-III, its only loss coming to Folsom early in the season. The Mustangs (9-1) solidified their cause with a 21-7 win over Central Catholic on Friday to win the Valley Oak League. Central Catholic (8-1) is the No. 3 seed in D-II behind No. 2 Inderkum, which joins No. 4 Del Campo as 10-0 entries.

Pioneer Valley League champion Placer (9-1) is the No. 1 seed in D-IV, opposite of upstart Casa Roble (5-5).

Sonora (8-2) is the top seed in D-V with Calaveras (9-1) seeded second and defending champion Capital Christian (7-3) the No. 3 seed.

Five-time champion Bradshaw Christian (7-3) is the No. 1 seed in D-VI, opposite of No. 2 Escalon (6-4), and Rio Vista (7-3) is the top seed in D-VII.

Rematches make the section playoffs all the more intriguing, and that could happen in D-I with Folsom and Oak Ridge, much as it did in 2013 when Folsom handed Oak Ridge its only two losses, including in the section finals.

“We’ve had that discussion that we could play Oak Ridge twice,” Richardson said. “That’s a very possible scenario.”

Said Oak Ridge quarterback Marco Baldacchino, “We’ll see Folsom again.”

Jesuit (8-2) is the No. 4 seed in D-I, having won eight consecutive games since opening with losses to Folsom and Granite Bay. One of the wins was in the Holy Bowl over Christian Brothers (8-2), which hasn’t lost since and earned the No. 3 seed in D-III.

No. 6 Sheldon (8-2) looms as a dark horse on the bottom of the D-I bracket with one in-state loss to Jesuit and a defeat to unbeaten Reno, 28-21.

The D-II bracket is especially deep with No. 5 Sacramento and No. 4 Del Campo looming in a potential second-round game. Sacramento (6-4) has one on-field loss – 28-19 to Folsom – but was hit with three forfeit losses due to playing a seldom-used player in games.

Inderkum reached the section finals last season and features perhaps the fastest player in the section in national-recruit receiver Isaah Crocker. No. 7 Del Oro (5-5) had to beat Woodcreek on Friday to earn a playoff berth, and the two-time defending section champion Golden Eagles open against No. 10 Lincoln (8-2) in an all-Placer County showdown.

“The D-II bracket was far and away the most discussed about how to seed teams,” section assistant director Will DeBoard said. “There are a lot of good teams.”

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs

Thursday openers (unless noted as Friday is Veteran’s Day holiday)

Division I

No. 16 River City at No. 1 Folsom

No. 9 Turlock at No. 8 Tracy

No. 12 Monterey Trail at No. 5 Vacaville

No. 13 Modesto at No. 4 Jesuit, Saturday, 1 p.m.

No. 14 Edison at No. 3 St. Mary’s

No. 11 Cosumnes Oaks at No. 6 Sheldon

No. 10 Franklin-Elk Grove at No. 7 Gregori

No. 15 Lincoln-Stockton at No. 2 Oak Ridge

Division II

No. 16 Burbank at No. 1 Granite Bay

No. 9 Elk Grove at No. 8 Antelope

No. 12 Wood at No. 5 Sacramento

No. 13 Buhach Colony at No. 4 Del Campo

No. 14 Stagg at No. 3 Central Catholic

No. 11 Downey at No. 6 Rocklin

No. 10 Lincoln at No. 7 Del Oro

No. 15 Vintage at No. 2 Inderkum

Division III

No. 16 McNair at No. 1 Oakdale

No. 9 Vanden at No. 8 Yuba City

No. 12 Cordova at No. 5 Vista del Lago

No. 13 East Union at No. 4 Patterson

No. 14 Benicia at No. 3 Christian Brothers

No. 11 Rio Linda at No. 6 Los Banos

No. 10 River Valley at No. 7 American Canyon

No. 15 Rio Americano at No. 2 Manteca

Division IV

No. 8 Natomas at No. 1 Placer

No. 5 Woodland at No. 4 El Dorado

No. 6 Dixon at No. 3 Center

No. 7 Union Mine vs. No. 2 Casa Roble

Division V

No. 8 Highlands at No. 1 Sonora

No. 5 Colfax at No. 4 Orestimba

No. 6 Bear River at No. 3 Capital Christian

No. 7 Ripon at No. 2 Calaveras

Division VI

No. 8 Western Sierra at No. 1 Bradshaw Christian

No. 5 Gustine at No. 4 Modesto Christian

No. 6 Hilmar at No. 3 Summerville

No. 7 Mariposa at No. 2 Escalon

Division VII

No. 5 Big Valley Christian at No. 4 Woodland Christian

No. 6 Brookside Chritian at No. 3 Stone Ridge Christian

Byes: No. 1 Rio Vista, No. 2 Ripon Christian

For complete brackets: