The guesswork ends Saturday afternoon.
From the Lodi office of the Sac-Joaquin Section, a committee of active and retired administrators and former coaches will sift through mounds of data and the CalPreps.com computer formula to determine how football teams across seven divisions will be seeded.
The regular season ends Friday and the playoffs start Nov. 2. The top four seeds in each division will have first-round byes, a first for this section.
“We will try to take the full resume of teams into account,” section assistant commissioner Will DeBoard said.
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Here’s how we would seed the top teams based on strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups, strength of league and just plain common sense:
Division I - Should Bee top-ranked Folsom beat No. 2 Del Oro on Friday in Loomis in the Sierra Foothill League championship bout, the Bulldogs will emerge as the clear No. 1 seed. Folsom lost 14-0 to Northern California No. 1-ranked De La Salle, which hasn’t lost to a NorCal team since 1991.
Folsom seeks its seventh section and fourth CIF state crown this decade.
Though Monterey Trail resides in the Metro, one of the poorest leagues in the section, it does have a big opening win over likely 9-1 Sheldon, which just beat Jesuit 27-21 in overtime to win the Delta League.
Given that, we would have Monterey Trail seeded second as it likely caps its first 10-0 regular season. Sheldon in our book would be seeded third and Oak Ridge, with losses to Folsom, Del Oro and Granite Bay, seeded fourth.
Pitman of Turlock likely will go into the playoffs at 10-0, but the Central California Athletic League is not overly strong, and the overall schedule isn’t overwhelming with opening wins over Napa, Lincoln of Stockton and Pleasant Grove, teams that likely finish a combined 3-27.
And none of the CCAL teams has ever reached a D-I section final, which started in 1976. Nor have Downey, Enochs, Gregori, Modesto, Pitman or Turlock ever made a section D-II final, which started in 1972.
St. Mary’s of Stockton, a decades-long power, is also a factor in D-I seedings.
Division II - If Del Oro beats Folsom, winner of 35 consecutive SFL games, then the Golden Eagles automatically go D-I for winning a D-I league.
In that event, Del Oro is the No. 1 seed in D-I.
A loss to Folsom might still grant Del Oro the top D-II seed, though there is plenty of argument to have Inderkum the top seed if it goes 10-0. Or Central Catholic of Modesto, as it likely finishes 9-1 with the lone loss to De La Salle.
We’d go Del Oro 1, Central Catholic 2, Inderkum 3 and Jesuit 4.
The Marauders play winless Pleasant Grove on Friday and have losses to Folsom, Granite Bay and Sheldon.
And what to do about Granite Bay? The Grizzlies beat Jesuit and reside in the SFL, the section’s best league.
Granite Bay would be 5-5 with a Friday win over Rocklin, no easy task. Granite Bay has losses to Folsom, Del Oro, Monte Vista, Grant and Damonte Ranch of Reno. Granite Bay also has a one-point win over Oak Ridge last week.
And Grant? The Pacers aim to enter the playoffs at 5-5 with a spirited win over Granite Bay on its schedule and a near upset of Del Oro.
Division III - Capital Christian with a Friday win over Vista del Lago will be 10-0 and would have the strength of nonleague schedule to warrant the top seed, having beaten Grant, Antelope and Cosumnes Oaks, each a playoff team.
The No. 2 seed should be Placer, also looking to be 10-0 with the pedigree of having played for a CIF state title last season. Merced is also a likely 10-0 team, and there is dark horse Antelope.
Would the section want Antelope and Capital Christian on the same side of the bracket after a nasty brawl between the teams earlier this season?
Division IV - Rio Linda, Oakdale, Casa Roble and Vanden appear to be the top seeds. The most storied of the bunch is Oakdale, and the Mustangs drop a division due to enrollment and more teams filling out the D-III bracket.
Division V - Should Colfax enter the playoffs at 10-0, the Falcons should be the top seed, followed by Bear River, which could set up a rematch of last season’s D-V title bout, won by Bear River.
Center is also in this mix and can improve its seeding with a Friday win over Colfax.
Divisions VI and VII largely consist of teams from the southern part of the season, though D-VII should have upper seeds in Golden Sierra and Woodland Christian.
Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson: firstname.lastname@example.org, @SacBee_JoeD, sacbee.com/high-school.
This week’s schedule
All games start between 7-7:30 p.m. Friday, unless noted:
No. 1 Folsom at No. 2 Del Oro
No. 3 Monterey Trail vs. McClatchy at Hughes Stadium
No. 4 Placer at Lincoln
Roseville at No. 5 Inderkum
No. 6 Capital Christian at Vista del Lago
No. 7 Sheldon vs. Franklin at Cosumnes Oaks
Rocklin at No. 8 Granite Bay
No. 9 Jesuit vs. Pleasant Grove at Sheldon
No. 12 Elk Grove at No. 10 Oak Ridge
No. 11 Grant at Whitney
No. 13 Antelope at River Valley
No. 16 Center at No. 14 Colfax
No. 15 Bear River at Marysville
No. 17 Rio Linda at Nevada Union
No. 18 Ponderosa at Oakmont
No. 19 Casa Roble vs. Mesa Verde at San Juan
No. 20 Woodcreek at Yuba City
Rio Americano at El Camino
Cosumnes Oaks at Davis
Mira Loma at Dixon
Woodland at Pioneer
Johnson at Natomas
Valley vs. Cordova at Cosumnes River College
Kennedy at Burbank
Laguna Creek at River City
Encina at Delta
Western Sierra at Woodland Christian
Linden at Highlands
Foothill at Lindhurst
San Juan at Golden Sierra
Vacaville Christian at Rio Vista
Bradshaw Christian at Rosemont
Galt at Liberty Ranch
Union Mine at El Dorado
Bella Vista at Del Campo
Christian Brothers vs. Sacramento at Hughes Stadium (11 a.m. Saturday)
Valley Christian vs. Foresthill at Highlands High School (noon Saturday)