The Sac-Joaquin Section is giving its soccer postseason a new look, with teams broken into brackets based on enrollment, not league affiliation.
That means seven divisions some with multiple league champions, others with none. The goal is to have schools of similar size play each other.
It's created plenty of discussion among coaches, as well as some intriguing openers:
Two of the largest schools in the section play, as Merced is at Modesto in Tuesday's Division 1 opener. Merced is the third-largest school (2,771) and Modesto (2,448) is No. 9. Those are the Stanislaus District's only D1 playoff teams.
Turlock hosts Johansen in a D2 opener, with the Bulldogs seeded No. 2 and possibly headed to a title match versus No. 1 Bella Vista. Divisions 1 and 2 have 16 teams apiece.
Division 3 is the deepest in the section, and Patterson and Manteca are happy to get first-round byes. Central Valley, a candidate for the D3 top seed, stumbled late in the season to fall to No. 5 and faces No. 12 Oakdale on Tuesday to open the 12-team bracket.
Sierra has the No. 3 seed in D4, but is a big underdog to No. 1 Vista del Lago and No. 2 Placer. Sierra likely will visit Placer if the Timberwolves dispose of Colfax Thursday. Division 4 is an eight-team bracket.
Division 5 is the busiest for district teams: Five of the eight teams are local led by No. 2 Riverbank and No. 3 Delhi and they are all chasing No. 1 West Campus. Matches start Thursday and Delhi-Riverbank likely is a quarterfinal.
Hilmar finished .500 and is the No. 5 seed in D6, but it's a candidate to win the title because it's faced more difficult competition than many of its peers. No. 1 Capital Christian looks to be a team capable of beating Hilmar, based on results, and they could play in a semifinal. No. 2 seed Gustine hosts Summerville to open an eight-team field Thursday.
The Sac-Joaquin Section soccer playoffs open next week with play in seven divisions:
12-Merced at 5-Modesto
13-Atwater at 4-McNair
10-Downey at 7-Rio Linda
15-Johansen at 2-Turlock
12-Oakdale at 5-Central Valley
8-Ceres at 1-Vista del Lago
6-Colfax at 3-Sierra
8-Ripon at 1-West Campus
5-Venture Academy at 4-Linden
6-Highlands at 3-Delhi
7-Bret Harte at 2-Riverbank
5-Hilmar at 4-Cristo Rey
7-Summerville at 2-Gustine
5-Ripon Christian at 4-Global Youth Charter