Prep Roundup

Playoff Push

Outside outcomes will help determine PVL playoff destinations
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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Before the start of this football season, you can bet that coaches around the Pioneer Valley League weren’t really too concerned with this Friday’s Week Nine games involving Pioneer of Woodland against Yuba City in the Tri-County League or the Mother Lode League match-up between Calaveras and Argonaut. And who would have thought that next Thursday’s Capital Athletic League game between Mira Loma and El Camino would be nothing more than a ho-hum regular season curtain closer. But as the lines start to form for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s first expanded 32-team playoffs - which will be used to form brackets for Div. III, IVA and IVB – the trio of aforementioned games all of a sudden are becoming the center of interest for several PVL schools that have playoff aspirations. “There are some games out there this weekend that will carry a lot of weight in how the brackets end up,” said CIF assistant commissioner John Williams. “There’s really still a lot of football left.” Indeed there is. In one scenario that would affect a trio of PVL squads, if Yuba City defeats Pioneer on Friday and then both teams win their final games on Nov. 13 over River Valley and Woodland - and Mira Loma can defeat either Bella Vista this week or El Camino next week – it appears that a Div. IVA bracket would then include PVL powers Lincoln, Placer and defending section champion Whitney. The above scenario would allow Pioneer, Yuba City and Mira Loma all to reach the six-win plateau and then force the section to go to its strength of schedule tie-breaker (wins by all opponents) to determine final seeding for Div. III. Friday’s Argonaut vs. Calaveras tilt in San Andreas also appears to be another key tilt that will carry some weight in helping determine bracketing. Because the Mother Lode League only receives two automatic qualifying berths this season, a win by Argonaut Friday would mean that Calaveras could not have more than five wins this season. That would benefit Colfax, which already has six wins, and could play Bear River into the picture if the Bruins – who have four wins – can defeat either Lincoln on Friday or El Dorado next week. Bear River defeated Calaveras, 9-0, back on Sept. 18. Here’s a quick look at how the playoff picture looks for PVL teams with two weeks left in the season: Lincoln (8-0, 4-0) – The Zebras (1,473) are in the playoffs and will be awaiting the Pioneer-Yuba City and Mira Loma outcomes with a lot of interest. If the cards fall right, the Zebras – with wins over Bear River and Colfax - could be one of the top seeds in Div. IVA. Placer (7-1, 3-1) – The Hillmen (1,370) are playoff worthy with their seven wins and barring being swept by Colfax and Whitney, will secure one of the PVL’s three automatic berths. Placer looks destined for the IVA bracket and with eight wins or more could earn a high seed. Whitney (6-2, 4-1) – Whitney (1,506) still has an outside shot at a PVL title and with it a chance of earning a top playoff seed. However, the Wildcats look to be headed on the lower enrollment end to the Div. III bracket. The Pioneer-Yuba City-Mira Loma scenario could though move the ‘Cats to IVA. Colfax (6-2, 3-1) – A win over Placer or Lincoln would boost the Falcons (926) chances of earning one of the PVL’s three automatic berths. As of this week, the Falcons’ strength of schedule, is one of the team’s allies in its playoff bid for an at-large berth. An Argonaut win over Calaveras Friday would also help Colfax’s bid. Because of their enrollment, the Falcons look to be headed for the Div. IVB bracket which could be loaded with powers Escalon, Central Catholic and Modesto Christian. Bear River (4-4, 1-3) – The Bruins (1,108), with wins over Lincoln and El Dorado, would reach six wins and help their bid for an at-large berth. The possibility also exists of Bear River qualifying because of its strength of schedule with five wins.