'Runs like thunder:' Four prep football games to keep an eye on heading into playoffs
The regular season has been put to bed.
It’s playoff time, and that means 78 high school football teams spread over seven divisions in the Sac-Joaquin Section from the second-largest section of the 10 in California.
Is 78 too many?
No, not considering that this section has 190 member schools, and these member schools approve of the 16-team brackets for Divisions I, II and III and smaller brackets for the smaller divisions. And good luck telling a team, say River City, that it should turn in its gear instead of facing powerhouse Folsom in a Division I opener, as some have suggested via social media, email and voice mail.
At 7-3, River City earned the right to advance to the playoffs, and any competitor relishes a chance to take on the best.
The section playoffs have expanded in recent years to include the really small schools in Divisions VI and VII. People grouse every season, “Who cares about the small schools?” The small schools care, and they play good football.
Our final regular-season rankings for the region and section are below. We will run one last set of rankings after the postseason ends.
The section’s top seeds in Division I are rivals: No. 1 Folsom and No. 2 Oak Ridge. The top-ranked Bulldogs beat the Trojans 42-28 on Friday in El Dorado Hills to win the Sierra Foothill League title, and both are talking rematch Dec. 2 at Sacramento State – without overlooking the next game, of course.
D-I contenders include St. Mary’s of Stockton, the defending champion, Delta League members Jesuit, Sheldon and Franklin, and 10-0 Gregori of Modesto, which earned only a seven seed but hails from the Modesto Metro Conference that is not deemed especially strong.
Granite Bay placed third in the SFL with losses to Folsom (35-14) and Oak Ridge (14-7 in overtime), but the losses didn’t hurt the seeding. The Grizzlies’ strength of league and overall schedule, including a win over D-I No. 5 seed Vacaville, earned them the top seed in D-II.
Momentum doesn’t hurt, either, as Granite Bay is in the playoffs for the 19th consecutive season. Inderkum is the No. 2 seed in D-II at 10-0.
Defending champion Oakdale is the top seed in D-III, its lone loss coming to Folsom in a thriller in September.
The other top seeds are Placer in D-IV, Sonora in D-V, Bradshaw Christian in D-VI and Rio Vista in D-VII.
Complete section brackets can be found here.
THE BEE’S TOP 20
With last week’s ranking in parentheses.
1. Folsom (1) 10-0
That’s five 10-0 regular seasons since 2012. The program seeks its sixth section championship this decade.
2. Oak Ridge (2) 9-1
The Trojans rightfully earned the No. 2 seed in the D-I playoffs but suddenly need to get healthy to reach the finals for the second time since 2013.
3. Inderkum (3) 10-0
The Tigers have some of the best team speed in the section, any division, and the goal is the program’s first section banner after three finals appearances.
4. Sacramento (4) 9-1*
The Dragons are seething at a 5-seed in D-II, undone by a so-so league and forfeit losses, but they can do something emphatic about it: win.
5. Granite Bay (5) 8-2
The Grizzlies have the making of the program’s sixth section-title team: offense, defense, line play, coaching, player experience.
6. Jesuit (6) 8-2
Big Red is rolling with an eight-game winning streak, thanks to offensive balance, line play and defense, and now targets its third section title as a D-I dark horse.
7. Sheldon (7) 8-2
The Huskies live to run. They have the backs, linemen and defensive stoppers to make a D-I championship run.
8. Del Campo (8) 10-0
The Cougars are miffed that a perfect record reaps only a four-seed, but winning cures everything.
9. Franklin (10) 7-3
In coach Mike Johnson’s last season, the Wildcats want to bounce a 10-0 Gregori team out of the D-I bracket as a warm-up act to a title run.
10. Antelope (11) 9-1
The Titans draw a fast, albeit depleted, Elk Grove team in a D-II opener, and this could be a scoring fest.
11. Christian Brothers (12) 8-2
Winners of eight consecutive games, the Falcons aim to return to the D-III finals, and win it. It would be program’s first title since 1983.
12. Rocklin (9) 6-4
This is a banged-up lot, but a dangerous team lurking in the D-II pool with a coaching staff that has championship pedigree.
13. Placer (14) 9-1
The Hillmen are top seed in D-IV. They can run, throw and defend at a championship level, and they live to mud it up at home.
14. Del Oro (-) 5-5
The Golden Eagles are two-time defending D-II section champions but had to scratch and claw to get here, much like in 2015.
15. Lincoln (13) 8-2
The Zebras have a chance for the program’s greatest playoff win: knock off storied Del Oro in Loomis.
16. Monterey Trail (15) 6-4
The Mustangs play at Vacaville in a D-I opener, and the run-heavy teams might end this one at about 8:05 p.m.
17. Capital Christian (-) 7-3
The Cougars are our favorite in D-V despite a No. 3 seed. No team in that division has this sort of speed and ferocity.
18. Cordova (18) 7-3
The Lancers draw a talented and angry Vista del Lago team in a D-III opener that should be a thriller.
19. Cosumnes Oaks (-) 5-5
The Wolf Pack is back, and they can really make a statement with a D-I win at Sheldon in an Elk Grove Unified School District rumble.
20. Yuba City (20) 6-4
The Honkers are the only playoff team that enters the postseason coming off a bye, so beware the rested and ready.
Dropped out: No. 16 Elk Grove, No. 17 El Dorado, No. 19 Vista del Lago
* Does not include three forfeited losses due to a seldom-used ineligible player.
Bubble teams (alphabetical order): Bear River (7-3), Bradshaw Christian (7-3), Burbank (6-4), Casa Roble (5-5), Center (5-5), Colfax (7-3), Cosumnes Oaks (5-5), Dixon (7-3), East Nicolaus (10-0), El Dorado (7-3), Elk Grove (5-5), Grant (4-6), Rio Americano (6-4), Rio Linda (6-4), Rio Vista (7-3), River City (7-3), River Valley (7-3), Union Mine (5-5), Vista del Lago (6-4), Woodland (6-4), Woodland Christian (9-1).
THE BEE’S SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION TOP 20
From 190 schools in the second-largest of California’s 10 sections.
1. Folsom (10-0)
2. Oak Ridge (10-0)
3. Oakdale (9-1)
4. Central Catholic-Modesto (8-1)
5. Inderkum (10-0)
6. Sacramento (9-1)*
7. St. Mary’s-Stockton (8-2)
8. Granite Bay (8-2)
9. Jesuit (8-2)
10. Sheldon (8-2)
11. Vacaville (7-3)
12. Del Campo (10-0)
13. Manteca (8-2)
14. Gregori-Modesto (10-0)
15. Franklin (7-3)
16. Rocklin (7-3)
17. Antelope (9-1)
18. Turlock (8-2)
19. Modesto (7-3)
20. Downey-Modesto (8-2)
* Does not include three forfeited losses due to a seldom-used ineligible player.
Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff schedule
All kickoffs are at 7 p.m. Thursday (unless noted; Friday is when schools will recognize Veterans Day).
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
No. 16 Burbank at No. 1 Granite Bay
No. 9 Elk Grove at No. 8 Antelope
No. 12 Wood vs. No. 5 Sacramento at Rosemont High (Saturday)
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
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 (Friday)
No. 11 Rio Linda at No. 6 Los Banos (Friday)
No. 10 River Valley at No. 7 American Canyon
No. 15 Rio Americano at No. 2 Manteca
No. 8 Natomas at No. 1 Placer (Friday)
No. 5 Woodland at No. 4 El Dorado
No. 6 Dixon at No. 3 Center
No. 7 Union Mine vs. No. 2 Casa Roble at Bella Vista
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 (Friday)
No. 8 Western Sierra at No. 1 Bradshaw Christian
No. 5 Gustine at No. 4 Modesto Christian
No. 6 Hilmar at No. 3 Summerville (Friday)
No. 7 Mariposa at No. 2 Escalon
No. 5 Big Valley Christian at No. 4 Woodland Christian
No. 6 Brookside Christian at No. 3 Stone Ridge Christian
Byes: No. 1 Rio Vista, No. 2 Ripon Christian
Please update The Bee of updates/corrections: email@example.com