8 Placer County football questions for The Pigskin Soothsayer

By: Mike Ray of the Auburn Journal
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The flipping of the calendar page to November and the first big rain soaking of the season can mean only one thing; the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs must be right around the corner.

And, with that in  mind, comes plenty of questions by prospective playoff teams’ fans and followers of what lies beyond this week’s regular season ending contests concerning the postseason fates of their favorite squads

Playing Pigskin Soothsayer, let’s tackle some questions that will take us right up to the announcement of the playoff brackets this weekend.

1. Placer (9-0, 4-0) is in the playoffs, but in what division do the Hillmen play?

Going into Friday’s game with Colfax, the Hillmen, who clinched a fourth straight Pioneer Valley League title last Friday, could either be the smallest school enrollment-wise in a 16-team Division III bracket or perhaps the biggest school in an 8-team Division IV bracket. Unfortunately for the Hillmen, their game with Colfax Friday plays no bearing on where they will land. Instead, Placer fans should pay attention to these final scores Friday from around the section: Weston Ranch at Sierra, Lathrop at Kimball, Modesto Christian at Escalon, Mariposa at Le Grand, Yuba City at Woodland, Bear River at Lincoln and Center at Foothill. Remarkably, the results of those seven games all will play a role in Placer’s final destination.

2. Can a 4-6 team reach the postseason?

If you’re the Del Oro Golden Eagles and you play in the top-heavy Sierra Foothill League, the answer is yes. Thanks to last Friday’s 24-7 shellacking of Woodcreek, the Golden Eagles will host Granite Bay in a winner-take-all game Friday for the SFL’s No. 4 automatic playoff berth. Barring a Rocklin upset loss at Nevada Union, Del Oro – with a win Friday – would hold the tie-breakers for the fourth automatic qualification. Del Oro, which hasn’t missed the playoff since 2008, can only reach the postseason by securing one of the SFL’s four seeds.

3. Can the Colfax Falcons make the playoffs?

For the first time in its preparation for the playoffs, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section has an “elimination board” for teams that can’t qualify for the post season. Colfax (3-6, 1-3) is on that list. For Colfax coach Tony Martello, it’s only the third time in his illustrious 20-year Falcons coaching career that one of his teams didn’t play past the first week of November.

4. What does Bear River’s game at Lincoln mean in the big picture?

Well, putting it mildly, a whole lot. Lincoln (5-4, 2-2), trying to reach the postseason for the first time under second-year head coach Chris Bean, needs a win Friday over the Bruins to lock up one of the PVL’s three automatic playoff berths. If the Zebras lose Friday, it opens up a big can of worms – i.e. CIF tie-breaker -  in the event of a Center win over Foothill that would leave all three teams with 2-3 PVL records and tied for the PVL’s No. 3 spot.

5. Bear River has seven wins. Do the Bruins benefit from a win Friday?

Absolutely. The Bruins, like Placer, are already playoff eligible. But an 8-2 Bear River record will look a lot better on the seeding board in the D5 playoff seeding process than 7-3. While undefeated Capital Christian is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 seed in D5, the big question will which team will be No. 2 between Bear River and Ripon. The section shouldn’t have a problem. Both teams played two like-foes: Sutter and Escalon.

6. How does the Center at Foothill game play into the scheme of things?

Well, depending on who you are rooting for, a whole lot. If you are a Hillmen fan, the perfect scenario – because both Foothill and Center have small enrollments – would be for Lincoln to defeat Bear River and Foothill to down Center. In that case, Center, a D4 school, doesn’t reach the coveted six-win level.

7. Can Foothill and Center both reach the playoffs?

Stunningly, yes. For that to happen, Lincoln would have to lose to Bear River Friday and Foothill would have to lose to Center, but not by more than six points. In this instance, Foothill would be (plus 1) in the CIF three-way 13-point tie-breaker with Center (-1) and Lincoln (0). Foothill would then gain the PVL’s third automatic playoff berth and Center would most likely qualify with six wins.

8. Are the Foresthill Widlfires playoff bound?

While most teams that are 1-8 would be thinking about turning in equipment next Monday, Foresthill, by virtue of an earlier season win over Valley Christian, makes Friday’s final Sacramento Metro Athletic League game at Delta anticlimactic. Foresthill earns the No. 2 league seed to the D7 playoffs with a win, while a loss still awards the third seed.