Joe Davidson

Big individual numbers are nice, but it’s playoff time, where only victories count

Christian Brothers quarterback Gunnor Faulk (2) leads the Sac-Joaquin Section with 38 touchdown passes. The third-seeded Falcons open the Division III playoffs Friday at home against No. 14 Benicia.
Christian Brothers quarterback Gunnor Faulk (2) leads the Sac-Joaquin Section with 38 touchdown passes. The third-seeded Falcons open the Division III playoffs Friday at home against No. 14 Benicia. Special to The Bee

The thing about statistical marvels is the numbers really only matter in victory, especially the postseason, where every yard, every score and every stop all count.

A quick peek at regular-season stat leaders heading into the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs which start Thursday:

▪ Gunnor Faulk of Christian Brothers has a section-leading 38 touchdown passes, including four or more in seven games, and he will have to keep firing away to drive the third-seeded Falcons back to the Division III finals. He has 20 scoring passes to tight end Spencer Webb.

▪ Kaiden Bennett is second in the section with 34 TD passes, and he leads top-seeded Folsom (10-0) in Division I. The junior is also the first to acknowledge that he needs to cut down on interceptions (he has eight, including three each against Sacramento and Del Oro). Bennett is also the section’s total-offense leader, averaging 319.3 yards a game.

▪ Derek Shelton of Sacramento has 33 scoring strikes for the No. 5 seed in D-II. He also wants to cut down on interceptions, with one of his seven on the season returned for a touchdown in a 28-19 loss to Folsom, the Bulldogs’ closest game this season.

▪ Adrian Torres of Natomas has 30 touchdown passes and will surely face a pass rush against top-seeded Placer in a D-IV opener. Calling all Nighthawks linemen, “pass protect.”

▪ Tyler Dimino of Del Campo has 29 TD strikes and just three interceptions, and he’ll need to be on point as the Cougars, the fourth seed in D-II, aim to show their 10-0 start is not just a mirage. A victory could mean a second-round contest against Sacramento.

▪ Aiden Luca of Western Sierra has 29 touchdown passes, and he’ll have to have his best game to upset top-seeded Bradshaw Christian in a D-VI opener.

▪ Tommy Turner of Lincoln has 27 TD tosses, and he’ll likely need several to deliver the biggest victory in program history when the 10th-seeded Zebras open D-II play at two-time defending champion Del Oro.

▪ Dominick Norris of Vista del Lago leads the section with 1,977 yards rushing to go with 21 touchdowns, and he’s been at his best down the stretch with 740 yards and nine scores in the previous three games. Norris leads the No. 5 seed in D-III with defending champion Oakdale looming in the semifinals.

▪ Oscar Sanchez of Woodland has rushed for 1,444 yards and 19 touchdowns, delivering his best game in the team’s biggest win with 218 yards and four scores to beat River Valley 42-27. No. 5 Woodland opens D-IV play at fourth-seeded El Dorado, which features Steven Fox (1,265 yards, 15 TDs).

▪ Kellon Gillespie of El Dorado leads the section with 15.1 tackles a game, and he’ll have to make more stops to lead the Cougars.

▪ Dakota Van Dyke of Cosumnes Oaks has made 141 tackles and will have to be active against sixth-seeded Sheldon and its bevy of backs and strong offensive line in a D-I opener.

▪ Chalmes Brown of Bradshaw Christian has 137 tackles as proof that the Pride isn’t just about demoralizing teams with the run game but also with stout defense.

▪ Inoke Waqavesi of Sacramento leads the section with 16.5 sacks, and coaches will implore him to keep greeting quarterbacks as the Dragons seek their first section championship.

▪ Marshaun Hunter of Del Campo has 13 sacks, and he also dazzles as an all-purpose player who must keep producing to power the Cougars back into a section final.

▪ Will Buck of No. 3-seed Capital Christian has 10 sacks, and the two-way lineman leader will continue to lead the way in the trenches for the defending D-V champions who brace for bulldozing back Austin Baze of Bear River in an opener.

▪ Austin Jarrard has 10 sacks for Oak Ridge and eight touchdowns as a tight end as a two-way unsung terror for a team expecting to win its first D-I championship.

▪ Alvin Banks has a section-leading eight interceptions for 12th-seeded Cordova, and he has 13 touchdown receptions from Johnele Sanders for a program looking turn the D-III bracket upside down. The Lancers open at Vista del Lago.

▪ Blake Peterson of Granite Bay is a speedy flyback who can run and catch and will look to do a lot more of both for the No. 1 seed in D-II that seeks its sixth title overall and fourth in D-II.

Optimist game – The 60th Optimist All-Star Game is will be Jan. 27 at Sacramento State.

Leading the North is John Volek, the one-time Hornets coach. The South will be coached by Max Miller, who led Cordova and other area teams to championships. Area coaches are encouraged to send player nominations for graduating seniors to game director Jay Erhart at and to The Bee at by the end of this week.

All-Metro nominations – Area coaches and athletic directors can email nominations for The Bee’s All-Metro team to Comments are encouraged. All-league teams are also welcomed to ensure publication and All-Metro consideration.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD