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Prep Roundup

Week Three Grid Matchups Pair Possible Playoff Foes

By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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The calendar may still read September but for a few area high school football teams this weekend’s games could easily be previews of what’s to come in November, or for that matter, December. Because of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s new reorganized playoff format that now takes enrollment into consideration, no fewer than three foothills area squads face opponents in Week Three that they conceivably could face again in the post season. “It does make it kind of interesting,” said Whitney coach Mike Giminez whose Wildcats put their 15-game win streak on the line when they travel to the famed “Corral” Friday to take on undefeated Oakdale. “Oakdale is a very tough place to play at. It’s a huge challenge for our kids.” The Whitney-Oakdale game carries two-fold importance for both the Wildcats and Mustangs - who barring complete collapses by either - should be right in the middle of the 16-team Div. III playoff picture as it starts to unfold. While league champions will have priority in the seeding of the playoff divisions, head-to-head competition will also play a factor in the putting together of the divisional brackets. The Whitney-Oakdale game is one that most prep fans were expecting to see in last year’s playoffs after Oakdale defeated the Wildcats in the 2007 CIF title game. However, the Mustangs were upended in the first round of last season’s Div. IV playoffs by Placer. Whitney then eventually went on to defeat Placer in the section finals on its way to going 13-0. Oakdale may be going into Friday’s game without one of its top weapons as quarterback Tanner Coombs went down with a severely sprained ankle in warm-ups before last Saturday’s big intersectional game against Novato. While some reports have Coombs being lost for the season, his status this week is being kept under wraps by the Oakdale coaching staff. “They didn’t need him last week,” said Giminez about the Oakdale quarterback. “They just lined up and ran it right down Novato’s throats.” Led by 6-2 220-pound fullback Tim House, the Mustangs had three players go over 100 yards rushing in the 34-22 win over the Hornets, a perennial North Coast Section power. “Oakdale went old school last week,” said Modesto Bee prep writer Rich Estrada. “They ran the ball 60 times for like 375 yards.” Meanwhile, while Whitney and Oakdale are hooking up in the southern part of the section, things should get exciting in Orangevale where Casa Roble (2-0) entertains Placer (2-0). Again, depending how the cards fall in the playoff picture, the Rams and Hillmen possibly end up in the same Div. III bracket. Casa, with 1,747 students, appears to be a shoo-in for the sixteen team Div.III bracket. Placer, meanwhile, with 1,370 students, could line up either as a Div. III or Div. IV team if the Hillmen emerge as playoff worthy. In the Pioneer Valley League this season, three teams will automatically qualify, however, depending on enrollment, some qualifiers could be Div. III and others Div. IV. In Colfax, the Falcons (1-1) host Union Mine (1-1). While the two foes may be playoff opponents down the road, this season anyway, the two can’t play each other in the playoffs. That's because the Diamondbacks from El Dorado, despite having only 1,195 students, only have a shot at qualifying in the Div. II playoffs because of its Sierra Valley Conference league affiliation. This year for playoff purposes, dividing lines exist for leagues between Div. I & II, III & IV, and V & VI. Next season the playoffs will be strictly by enrollment. Next season, however, Colfax (926) and Union Mine could most likely be playoff foes in the same division if they qualify. For those that are interested, the CIF’s CBEDS enrollment figures for PVL schools used for this year’s playoffs are as follows: Whitney (1506), Lincoln (1,473), El Dorado (1,433), Placer (1,370), Mesa Verde (1,254), Bear River (1,108) and Colfax (926).