Joe Davidson

Favorites, contenders, players to watch in Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs

'Runs like thunder:' Four prep football games to keep an eye on heading into playoffs

Preps football reporter Joe Davidson gives fans a look into four of the most exciting games to watch this week as we head into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
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Preps football reporter Joe Davidson gives fans a look into four of the most exciting games to watch this week as we head into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

The Bee’s Joe Davidson sizes up the Sac-Joaquin Section football brackets:

Division I

FAVORITE

Folsom (10-0) – Bulldogs have the most speed and playmakers in the field, an unsung “D” and a proven coaching staff that has won five section titles this decade.

CONTENDERS

Oak Ridge (9-1) – Trojans are eager for a rematch with Folsom and have the offensive balance and defensive leaders to get there, though St. Mary’s looms in semifinals.

St. Mary’s (8-2) – Rams are the defending champions and have rumbling running back Dusty Frampton, who had his best games in 2016 postseason.

Jesuit (8-2) – Marauders have come of age since falling hard to Folsom, winning with offensive line, Isaiah Rutherford and defense despite rash of injuries.

Sheldon (8-2) – Huskies have the grind-away run game and defense needed to stall prolific spread teams, and coach Joe Cattolico has championship pedigree.

Gregori (10-0) – Modesto team is seething at seventh seed but region has done zip in D-I playoffs, and Franklin is poised for first-round upset.

KEY PLAYER

Marco Baldacchino, Oak Ridge – Senior quarterback exited Folsom game with knee in a brace but it isn’t serious, though his leadership surely is.

Division II

FAVORITE

Sacramento (6-4) – Dragons have the most speed in the field, especially on defensive edge, and gave Folsom its closest game of the year, 28-19, in their only on-field loss. Sacramento’s record includes three forfeited losses due to a seldom-used ineligible player.

CONTENDERS

Granite Bay (8-2) – Fifteen returning starters, headed by Cal-bound bruisers Will Craig and Evan Tattersall, lead an SFL-battle-tested team.

Inderkum (10-0) – Tigers are experienced and hungry, having reached the finals last season, and they have best game breaker in receiver Isaah Crocker.

Del Campo (10-0) – Cougars have leaders in Tyler Dimino, Marshaun Hunter and Greg Cabral, and defense is strong enough to stymie Sacramento and speedy teams.

Central Catholic (8-1) – Coach Roger Canepa has won CIF State titles in lower divisions and makes larger schools nervous; beat St. Mary’s 20-7 this fall.

Rocklin (6-4) – Blayden Brown and Cade Wyant rested during Week 10 close loss to Granite Bay and are ready to roll now.

KEY PLAYER

Jamie Cousey, Sacramento – Senior running back and speed-rush linebacker is heart and soul of a team seeking first title.

Division III

FAVORITE

Oakdale (9-1) – Mustangs and super-coach Trent Merzon lost only in a thriller to Folsom, 45-29, and are a defending CIF champion.

CONTENDERS

Christian Brothers (8-2) – Falcons have hard-to-stop offensive trio of Gunnor Faulk, Tyler Green and Spencer Webb and have won eight in a row.

Manteca (8-2) – Quarterback Gino Campiotti is a playmaker, including a last-second drive to beat Christian Brothers early this season.

Vista del Lago (6-4) – The Eagles have the section’s leading rusher Dominick Norris and steady QB Grant Patterson but they are 0-4 against ranked teams.

Cordova (7-3) – Lancers will attack with 1-2 offensive punch of Johnele Sanders and Alvin Banks in effort to wake ghosts of storied past.

KEY PLAYER

Spencer Webb, Christian Brothers – He is exactly what major college programs look for: skill, size, tenacity, desire.

Division IV

FAVORITE

Placer (9-1) – Hillmen average 303.7 yards rushing with wing-T; Mike Stuck has 14 TD passes; and home games in dirt and mud could be in order.

CONTENDERS

Center (5-5) – Cougars have the fastest team in the field and learned from close losses in tough Pioneer Valley League.

Casa Roble (5-5) – Rams have surged again after lean times and have made Friday night games a happening.

El Dorado (7-3) – Cougars have offensive balance with Danny Bell and Steven Fox as the team averages 444 yards a game.

KEY PLAYER

Mario Perez, Placer – Senior is versatile and vital, including 11 rushing touchdowns.

Division V

FAVORITE

Capital Christian (7-3) – Cougars have the most game breakers in the bracket, the best line play, the most ferocity – and a proven coaching staff.

CONTENDERS

Sonora (8-2) – Wildcats grind teams on the ground with three backs with 700-plus yards, and they’re riding eight-game streak.

Calaveras (9-1) – Lost only 59-50 to Sonora and rolled a Modesto Christian team 42-7 that Capital Christian beat 36-33.

Colfax (7-3) – Offensive balance and a guru coach in Tony Martello, who has won three section titles and reached seven championship games.

KEY PLAYER

D’Marcus Ross, Capital Christian – Junior cruiser capable of rushing for four scores and piling up double-digit tackles.

Division VI

FAVORITE

Bradshaw Christian (7-3) – Five-time champions are ground-and-pound juggernaut under veteran coach Drew Rickert.

CONTENDERS

Escalon (6-4) – Coach Mark Loureiro is retiring after 28 seasons, 14 section-title appearances and eight banners, so motivation is high.

Summerville (8-2) – Losses were to D-V No. 1 seed Sonora (37-27) and D-V No. 2 seed Calaveras (20-17).

KEY PLAYER

Mateo Bromstead, Bradshaw Christian – Diminutive and prolific, the senior has rushed for 2,646 career yards and 46 scores.

Division VII

FAVORITE

Rio Vista (7-3) – Rams have been a football factor since the 1950s and tower over six-team field here that includes No. 2 seed Ripon Christian (6-4).

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs

All openers kick off at 7 p.m. Thursday, unless noted:

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 vs. No. 5 Sacramento at Dixon High School

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 a 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, 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

Division IV

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

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, Friday

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, Friday

No. 7 Mariposa at No. 2 Escalon

Division VII

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

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