Records and milestones are some of the subplots entering the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs, which start Friday. Seventy-six teams spanning seven divisions begin their quest for a championship.
Grant High School is in the postseason for the 25th consecutive season – an ongoing section record – all under the watch of coach Mike Alberghini. His 261 career victories tie him for the regional record held by Max Miller, mostly during his tenure at Cordova. Miller is now retired.
Grant, the top seed in Division II, opens against Beyer of Modesto. The Pacers have won seven section championships since 1991, including last season.
While the Pacers never have repeated as section champs, Grant certainly likes its chances now. The Pacers are led by running back Deshawn Collins, who Friday became the first area running back to rush for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Collins has 2,048 yards after going for 2,321 in 2014.
Grant’s seven titles are tops in the section for larger schools and fourth overall behind Central Catholic of Modesto (18), Del Oro (nine) and Escalon (eight).
Granite Bay has the section’s second-longest active streak for consecutive playoff appearances with 17 15 of those with Ernie Cooper at coach. First-year coach Jeff Evans will lead the Grizzlies against Downey of Modesto in an opener, with the winner taking on the Grant-Beyer victor.
Folsom, the top seed in D-I, seeks a section championship four-peat and a three-peat in D-I. The last D-I program to three-peat was Cordova, which won four in a row from 1976 to 1979. Other D-I repeats came from Merced in 1989 and ’90, Nevada Union in 1993 and ’94, Elk Grove in 1997 and ’98 and Granite Bay in 2011 and ’12.
261 Career coaching victories by Grant’s Mike Alberghini, tying Max Miller for the regional record
Ten at 10-0 – Ten teams are 10-0 entering the playoffs: Folsom, Elk Grove and Napa in D-I; Antelope in D-II; Central Catholic, Inderkum, Patterson and Placer in D-III; and Orestimba and Capital Christian in D-V.
Three 5-5 teams were at-large entries: Monterey Trail in D-I, Granite Bay in D-II and Sierra of Manteca in D-IV.
Curious draws – Franklin drew the No. 9 seed in D-I and could face Folsom for the fourth consecutive season in the second round, hoping the fourth time is the charm. Franklin coaches were puzzled as to how the Wildcats wound up with a lower seed than Cosumnes Oaks, which drew the sixth seed in D-I after placing third in the Capital Valley Conference. Franklin finished third in the stronger Delta League.
Regardless, Franklin would have to get past Folsom, Elk Grove or No. 3 seed Oak Ridge in the second round no matter where it was placed.
Placer coaches were equally puzzled that their team drew just the fifth seed in D-III, pitting the Hillmen against No. 12 River Valley, which lost only to 10-0 teams – No. 3 seed Inderkum and Pleasant Valley of Chico. Central Catholic, the three-time defending CIF State D-IV champion, is the top D-III seed, followed by No. 2 Oakdale, the defending division champion that lost only in a shootout to Central Catholic. Strength of schedule and league strength were the deciding factors for the seeding committee.
Bear River, the defending D-V champion, limps into the field as the No. 6 seed, reeling from season-ending injuries and a three-game losing streak. Capital Christian, the D-VI champion last season, is the No. 2 seed in D-V behind Sonora in D-V.
2,048 Rushing yardage for Grant’s Deshawn Collins, who ran for 2,321 yards last season
Shootout affair – The most wide-open playoff game might be Saturday when Sacramento hosts McNair of Stockton in D-II.
McNair quarterback Osai Brown leads the section with 2,979 yards and 44 touchdown passes. His counterpart from Sac High, Caden Voges, surpassed the 10,000-yard career passing mark this season and has thrown for 2,278 yards and 33 scores this season.
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The Bee’s Top 20
2. Elk Grove
3. Oak Ridge
10. Del Campo
11. Del Oro
12. Granite Bay
13. Cosumnes Oaks
15. River Valley
17. Vista del Lago
18. Cap. Christian
20. Christian Bros.
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