District football teams resume title chases tonight

jcortez@modbee.comNovember 21, 2013 

The Bee's Joe Cortez, Brian VanderBeek and Ron Agostini talk about the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, which enter their second week on Friday. (Brian Clark/bclark@modbee.com)

MODESTO BEE

It was a tough week for Stanislaus District football teams during the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

Twenty-six teams from The Bee’s 52-team district qualified for postseason play – 24 of which played games last week – and 15 of those teams took it on the chin.

The Central California Conference, Modesto Metro Conference and Central California Athletic Alliance combined to go 0-7 last week, while the Western Athletic Conference went 1-2, with only No. 1 seed and reigning state champ Central Catholic advancing.

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The Valley Oak League was a respectable 2-2 – with Manteca and Oakdale moving on.

The Trans-Valley League was the big winner, with three of its five entrants – Hilmar, Ripon and Escalon – advancing to tonight’s second round.

Three of the eight second-round games feature a pair of district teams facing one another, so that means no more than eight teams will remain next week. Here’s a look at tonight’s seven playoff matchups, and Saturday’s lone game.

Division 3

No. 10 Casa Roble (8-2) at No. 2 Manteca (10-1) – The Buffaloes were happy just to survive last week when they outlasted No. 15 Central Valley (Ceres) in a 69-55 thriller that wasn’t decided until the final minutes. Manteca needs to work out the kinks defensively, having given up more than 600 yards of offense to the Hawks, if it plans to reach the semifinal round. Then again, the Buffs were facing the Stanislaus District’s all-team leading rusher in Ja’Quan Gardner.

No. 13 Oakdale (7-4) at No. 5 Sacramento (9-2), 1 p.m., Saturday – Until last week’s 42-35 win over Benicia, the second oldest public high school west of the Mississippi River had never won a postseason game. Now, the Dragons will go for their first 10-win season in school history. They’re led by sophomore quarterback Caden Voges, who’s completed better than 64 percent of his passes for more than 3,330 yards and 43 touchdowns. He has, however, thrown 20 interceptions.

Division 4

No. 8 Colfax (9-2) at No. 1 Central Catholic (10-1) – When discussing the playoff brackets before last week’s opening-round, Raiders coach Roger Canepa pointed out that Colfax was a dangerous team at No. 8. The Falcons are led by senior quarterback Michael Wilson, who has completed about 65 percent of his passes this season for more than 3,200 yards and 43 touchdowns.

No. 10 Escalon (7-4) at No. 2 Hilmar (11-0) – These teams met in Week 8, with the Yellowjackets earning a hard-fought 28-14 victory. The game was close early and turned on a roughing-the-kicker penalty with the game tied 7-7 in the second quarter. Without that infraction, Escalon may have gone in for a go-ahead score before halftime. Instead, Hilmar got the ball inside the 10 and immediately took a 14-7 lead it never relinquished.

No. 5 Calaveras (9-2) at No. 4 Ripon (10-1) – The Redskins are back in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2010, when they reached the title game and lost to Escalon on a Hail Mary pass in the game’s final seconds. Ripon is back in the second round for a second consecutive season. They bowed out at this point last season, falling to eventual state champ Central Catholic.

Division 5

No. 5 Waterford (6-5) at No. 1 Le Grand (10-0) – The Bulldogs received a bye last week while the Wildcats defeated Rio Vista 35-28. These teams are meeting for the second time this season – Le Grand beat Waterford 52-14 in Week 6 – and the third time in less than a calendar year. The Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 30-12 in last year’s section title game.

No. 3 Golden Sierra (6-5) at No. 2 Mariposa (8-2) – The Grizzlies received the other D5 bye last week, and they’ll be rested up for a Golden Sierra team that started 0-4, but finished on a hot streak.

Division 6

No. 3 Ripon Christian (9-2) at No. 2 Woodland Christian (9-1) – The Cardinals get the higher seed by virtue of their first-place finish in the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League – Ripon Christian was the Southern League runner-up – but the Knights are the favorite here. Woodland Christian hasn’t seen a running back like Andrew Brown (2,341 rushing yards, 41 TDs) this season.

Bee staff writer Joe Cortez can be reached at jcortez@modbee.com or (209) 578-2380. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeePreps.

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