MODESTO — There are rules that the Sac-Joaquin Section seeding committee is obligated to follow.
Often it does, but Saturday the committee disregarded some and subjectively decided when to enforce others.
Some teams were thrilled to find out what happened, others dismayed. The first group features Downey, Pitman and Calaveras; the latter has Atwater, Merced and Le Grand.
The controversy focuses on two rules the committee has been told to follow: No team can be moved more than two spots, and head-to-head is to be used as a priority criteria.
Now tell Atwater why, after beginning the day as a No. 13 seed in D2, it's now 16th and debuts at top-ranked Folsom?
Or explain to Merced why it is a No. 9 seed and on the road versus No. 8 Lincoln, while Pitman which lost to Merced by 31 and finished behind it in conference is at home?
Or Le Grand, which was 8-2, won a league title and was a State Bowl team last year, but is seeded behind a Golden Sierra team that is 7-3 and has no history of playoff success?
You won't hear complaints from Downey, Pitman or Calaveras: They benefited from seeding decisions similar to the ones that penalized the three Merced County teams:
Downey (9-1), after waffling between Division 1 and 2 in most playoff projections, is the No. 4 seed in D1 and has a favorable opener with Bethel. The Vallejo school is 6-4 and lost to the four teams it faced that had a winning record.
Aaron Zwahlen, with a verbal commitment to Hawaii and among the state's leaders in TD passes, is eager to erase the memory of last year's lopsided loss to Del Campo. The Knights will stay at home if they win, likely facing No. 5 Granite Bay.
Granite Bay was No. 6, but the committee jumped it over Pitman because it won the Sierra Foothill League one of the best in the section. A year ago, Downey might have fallen victim to the same scenario.
The Knights upgraded their schedule, adding Merced and Central Catholic, and their win over CC was deemed the single-most important statistic in keeping Downey at No. 4.
Pitman, while sliding one spot to No. 6 in D1, is the winner in the end since it hosts No. 11 Tokay (7-3). The Tigers were 0-3 against teams above .500. Pitman was criticized again this year for failing to play a more difficult schedule.
Calaveras was No. 12 and staring at Los Banos in a D4 opener, but it swapped spots with MLL rival Summerville at No. 9. Both are 8-2, but Calaveras beat Summerville by 14 and placed higher in league. Now Calaveras visits No. 8 Escalon and Summerville gets that long trip to Los Banos.
What's interesting is Calaveras and Merced were identical situations, yet Calaveras got a reward and Merced was sent on the road. The committee said Calaveras' move was to satisfy the head-to-head criteria but it had nothing to stay about the Merced issue.
Oakdale (9-1), looking at a potential No. 3 seed in D3 just days ago, jumped into the top slot with Placer (10-0) going to D4 and Yuba City finishing a win behind Oakdale in the tiebreaker: Oakdale's foes had 54 wins, Yuba City's had 53.
The Mustangs host Pacheco, which is making its playoff debut in its first season with seniors. If Oakdale wins, the quarterfinals could get emotional with Patterson potentially coming to The Corral.
The two were in a summer contact camp a few years ago. It got so aggressive the teams had to be separated, but it later led Patterson to try and get Oakdale on its schedule. Now the Tigers might get the shot.
Buhach Colony, a section semifinalist in D2 the last two years, is the No. 5 seed and could get a quarterfinal game at No. 4 Antelope. The Thunder's a favorite in both, but it would mean a semifinal at No. 1 Folsom.
Sierra, on a bit of a downer Friday night after star halfback Anthony Cota limped off the field, had reason to be excited after getting the No. 3 seed in D3. No. 14 Rosemont visits Friday, and then Sierra could host Inderkum one of the fastest in the section.
Coach Jeff Harbison would not have any trouble scouting his quarterfinal foe: VOL rival Manteca opens at Inderkum, and league coaches usually put aside rivalries when it comes to a scouting report.