It comes down to this, the finish line of the high school football regular season.
Though the more grand prizes are Sac-Joaquin Section and CIF Northern California and State championships, there is still plenty of value to be had in pursuing and winning league banners. Such tokens are still proudly displayed on gymnasium walls.
The marque matchup is in the Sierra Foothill League, where No. 2 Del Oro (9-0) hosts top-ranked Folsom (8-1) for the league title.
Folsom has won the SFL every season since entering the fray in 2014, having won 35 consecutive league games. Folsom’s starters have allowed two touchdowns in SFL play in otherwise outscoring opponents in the first half by a staggering 255-7.
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In the Capital Valley Conference, No. 5 Inderkum (9-0) can secure the title with a win over Roseville (3-6).
In the Capital Athletic League, No. 6 Capital Christian (9-0) will lock up the championship with a win over Vista del Lago (4-5).
No. 3 Monterey Trail (9-0) has a share of the Metro League and will own it outright with a victory over McClatchy (2-7).
No. 4 Placer (9-0) has at least a share of its seventh successive league championship, and the Hillmen can win the first crown in the newly formed Foothill Valley League with a win over Lincoln (5-4).
No. 7 Sheldon (8-1) clinched at least a share of the Delta League with its 27-21 overtime win over Jesuit and will claim it for itself with a win over Franklin (2-7).
No. 14 Colfax (9-0) already has a share of the 14th league championship for coach Tony Martello after downing No. 15 Bear River, and the Falcons can win the Pioneer Valley League outright with a victory over No. 16 Center (7-2).
No. 19 Casa Roble (8-1) already has a share of the Golden Empire League championship and can secure it outright with a win over Mesa Verde (1-8).
The playoff seedings will be released by the section office Saturday afternoon. The playoffs start Nov. 2.
A breakdown of five games of note:
No. 1 Folsom (8-1) at No. 2 Del Oro (9-0)
It’s not often that an unbeaten team is a big underdog, but that’s what faces Del Oro, which battled past Grant 22-21 and Rocklin 20-13 in recent weeks, teams that Folsom crushed 53-7 and 48-0. Del Oro has a breakaway threat in kickoff returner Johnny “Rocket” Guzman, a good QB in Carson Jarratt (1,406 yards passing, 16 touchdowns), a speedy back in Sheldon Conde (988 yards, 14 scores) and deep threats in Dawson Hurst and Matt Smart. Folsom counters with QB Kaiden Bennett (2,572 yards passing, 40 touchdowns), RB Daniyel Ngata (526 yards, seven scores) and receivers Joe Ngata (747 yards, 14 TDs), Elijhah Badger (626 yards, 12 TDs) and CJ Hutton (395 yards, six TDs). Caleb Nelson leads the defense with three interceptions.
No. 4 Placer (9-0) at Lincoln (5-4)
As much firepower as the Hillmen boast, the host Zebras have a nifty 1-2 punch in QB Tommy Turner (1,921 yards passing, 18 touchdowns) and WR Harry Rounds (1,011 yards, 14 scores). Lincoln seeks at least a share of its first league title since sharing it with Placer in 2016. Placer hasn’t been slowed all season, its wing-T churning out 3,983 yards and 61 touchdowns for a robust average of 442.6 yards per game and a 9.7-per-carry average, led by Hans Grassman (1,225 yards, 19 scores) and Marshall Chapman (1,006, 22 TDs).
No. 12 Elk Grove (5-4) at No. 10 Oak Ridge (6-3)
This is a fun nonleague matchup as both had rare Week 9 bye dates. Both storied programs are in the playoffs, the host Trojans in Division I and the Thundering Herd in D-II. Oak Ridge and QB Matt Jenner look to enter the playoffs strong after falling to Del Oro and Granite Bay in two of the past three weeks. Elk Grove has won three of its last four behind QB Carter Harris, a terrific runner.
No. 16 Center (7-2) at No. 14 Colfax (9-0)
The host Falcons can ill afford a letdown hangover after their emotional 41-14 conquest of rival Bear River last week. Center is quick and superbly coached by Digol J’beily, and the Cougars have to slow the passing game of Alex Weir and receivers Jake Green and Colton Reeves. RB Troy Little rushed for 134 yards and a score against Bear River.
Christian Brothers (5-4) vs. Sacramento (4-5)
Playing at Hughes Stadium at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sacramento can secure its 10th consecutive playoff berth with a victory here, a nice feat after starting the season 0-4, including setbacks to Inderkum and Del Oro, teams that are a combined 18-0. Javon Felton has played big at RB, on returns and on defense for the Dragons. CB is in the playoffs, thanks to the efforts of QB Jacob Stewart, RB Chace Gallup and WRs Tyler Green and Luke Jones.
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)