With 14 Stanislaus District teams still alive for Sac-Joaquin Section championships, the possibility exists for an all-local championship game in divisions III, IV, V and VI. That, in turn, would create some interesting scenarios for Northern California regional bowl invitations.
In Division III, Manteca could come out of one bracket, while Sierra and Oakdale battle to see who emerges out of the other. In Division V, it could be Hughson vs. Mariposa, while Modesto Christian and Ripon Christian could meet in a final at Lodi’s Grape Bowl on Nov. 29.
Should all that happen, it would be a tremendous statement for football in our area.
But don’t hold your breath. It’s nice to ponder, but in the end, Division IV probably will be the lone bracket in which it occurs. It’s guaranteed to happen in D-IV as Central Catholic hosts Escalon and Los Banos visits Sonora on Friday. The winners meet at Lincoln High School in Stockton the following week.
But after the section championship games are decided, the district could make a different kind of statement, with multiple teams playing in Northern California regional bowl games. It happened back in in 2012 with Central Catholic and Oakdale making it all the way to Carson for state championship games (CC won, Oakdale lost). And, since 2007, eight Stanislaus District teams have made it to a state final, including five in the last four seasons.
As of today, seven district squads are featured in Cal-Hi Sports’ regional bowl rankings.
Central Catholic is No. 1 in the Division IV North rankings, while Sonora is third in D-III (note: though the teams are in different divisions for Cal-Hi’s purposes, they’re in the same division for the section playoffs).
The math here is pretty simple: Should CC and Sonora meet for the section title on Nov. 28, the loser is out of the bowl picture, since you must win your section title to be considered for a bowl bid.
If Central Catholic wins it all, the Raiders are a lock for a berth in the D-IV bowl, just like the last two seasons. If Sonora wins, the Wildcats are certainly in the conversation for a bid, but not a lock since Campolindo and Sutter are ranked ahead of them.
Modesto Christian, ranked four spots behind Central Catholic in the D-IV bowl poll, also is a contender.
If the Crusaders were to win the D-VI section title, that means Capital Christian (ranked two spots ahead of MC by Cal-Hi) did not win it, and therefore is ineligible for a bid. That would leave two teams ahead of the Crusaders in the poll – No. 2 McClymonds and No. 4 Salesian of Richmond, both of which have forfeited games. Those forfeits could come into play and allow MC to leap into the No. 2 ranking (McClymonds is appealing).
Finally, in Cal-Hi’s Division II North poll, Valley Oak League rivals Sierra, Oakdale and Manteca are fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
Clayton Valley, Concord, Enterprise and Inderkum are ranked ahead of the VOL trio.
But Clayton Valley and Concord are on a collision course in the North Coast Section’s D-II playoffs, so only one will survive and be eligible.
Enterprise, which ended Manteca’s season in the 2013 bowl game, seems like a lock to repeat as Northern Section champ.
Inderkum is the top seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s D-III bracket and could face two of the three VOL entrants at some point. So, as far as getting rid of Inderkum, Oakdale, Sierra and Manteca control their own destiny. Then they would need some help getting rid of the remaining teams ranked above them, or rely on the selection committee being wowed by their resume.
It’s complicated, for sure. And there are a lot of horses being placed before carts here. But it’s worth pointing out, because there’s a lot of good football being played in the southern half of a section that too often gets overshadowed by the north.
Last week I wrote a feature story about three deaf student-athletes playing football at Downey. An interested reader sent me a very thoughtful email and wondered if I knew that the modern-day, circular football huddle was invented at Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Washington, D.C.
Back in the 19th century, deaf players at Gallaudet noticed that the opposing team was starting to pick up on their sign language. The players decided to huddle up to conceal their signs. Soon everybody was doing it, and the huddle was born.
Thanks, “Interested Reader.”
All games at 7 p.m.
Div. I: No. 12 Monterey Trail at No. 4 Merced (Golden Valley High)
Div. II: No. 8 Downey at No. 1 Grant
Div. III: No. 6 Vista Del Lago at No. 3 Oakdale; No.10 Rio Linda at No. 2 Sierra; No. 5 Sacramento at No. 4 Manteca
Div. IV: No. 4 Escalon at No. 1 Central Catholic; No.3 Los Banos at No. 2 Sonora
Div. V: No. 4 Hughson at No. 1 Bear River; No. 3 Mariposa at No. 2 Colfax
Div. VI: No. 3 Bradshaw Christian at No. 2 Modesto Christian; No. 5 Ripon Christian at No. 1 Capital Christian
Div. VII: Stone Ridge at Delta