Prep football playoffs in sight

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comNovember 7, 2012 

The playoffs are just a day away.

Good luck trying to get some sleep tonight if you’re strapping on the helmet and pads tomorrow night.

Which of our local teams can we expect to make deep runs in the playoffs? Who is going to be holding up the blue section banner in a few weeks? Let’s take a look at the playoffs division by division.

SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION Division 1

The Favorite: Franklin (Elk Grove).

The Contenders: Burbank, Granite Bay, Oak Ridge.

The Dark Horse: Grant

Local teams: Merced

Breakdown: Franklin emerged as one of the top teams in the Sacramento area this year with a win over Elk Grove.

Burbank went 10-0, but finds itself in a tough first-round battle against Grant.

Merced (7-3) will play Lincoln (7-3) in an entertaining first-round matchup. The Bears have a shot to advance depending on which Merced team shows up.

Semifinals: Franklin, Granite Bay, Oak Ridge and Burbank.

Championship: Franklin 27, Oak Ridge 21.

Division 2

The Favorite: Folsom

The Contenders: Elk Grove, Buhach Colony, St. Mary's.

The Dark Horse: Del Oro.

Local teams: Buhach Colony, Atwater

Breakdown: How deep is this bracket. All you need to know is St. Mary's (8-2) is the No. 7 seed.

Folsom, a.k.a Quarterback High, has reached the section championship game the last two years under quarterbacks Dano Graves and Tanner Trosin. Sophomore Jake Browning may shatter their records after throwing for 3,726 yards and 43 touchdowns.

Elk Grove likely will meet the Bulldogs in the finals this year behind their strong running game.

Buhach Colony has a clear path to the semifinals where the Thunder likely will run into Folsom. That would be a fun matchup.

Atwater lost its final two games of the season. The Falcons reward was the No. 16 seed and a Friday date at Folsom.

Semifinals: Folsom, Buhach Colony, Elk Grove and St. Mary's.

Championship: Folsom 31, Elk Grove 28

Division 3

The Favorite: Oakdale

The Contenders: Cosumnes Oaks, Sierra and Vista del Lago.

The Darkhorse: Inderkum

Local Teams: Pacheco

Breakdown: The Panthers qualified for the playoffs in just their second year of playing varsity football.

With Placer ending up in Division 4, this division is Oakdale's for the taking. It's hard to foresee anybody else upsetting the Mustangs.

Semifinals: Oakdale, Cosumnes Oaks, Sierra, Sacramento

Championship: Oakdale 34, Sierra 21

Division 4

The Favorite: Placer

The Contenders: Central Catholic, Los Banos, Ripon.

The Darkhorse: Escalon

Local Teams: Los Banos and Hilmar

Breakdown: You have to make the Hillmen the favorites because of their 48-30 win over Central Catholic earlier this season. This bracket is loaded from top to bottom with quality teams. Even Placer has a tough potential second-round matchup with Escalon.

Los Banos has to like its draw. The seeding committee gave the Tigers a higher seed than league champion Central Catholic. Los Banos is getting healthy and seems to have an open road to the semifinals. With James Sams healthy, the Tigers could surprise some people by going even deeper.

Semifinals: Placer, Los Banos, Ripon and Central Catholic.

Championship: Central Catholic 28, Placer 27

Division 5

The Favorite: Le Grand

The Contenders: Waterford and Golden Sierra

The Darkhorse: Highlands

Local Teams: Le Grand

Breakdown: The Bulldogs (8-2)have to be fuming after receiving the No. 3 seed despite beating top seed Waterford by 20 points and having a better record than Golden Sierra (7-3).

The extra motivation should carry Le Grand to a third straight section title.

Semifinals: Waterford, Highlands, Le Grand and Golden Sierra.

Championship: Le Grand 35, Waterford 24

CENTRAL SECTION

Division 4

The Favorite: Wasco

The Contenders: Mission Oak, Bakersfield Christian and Coalinga

The Darkhorse: Chowchilla

Local Teams: Chowchilla and Dos Palos

Breakdown: It's hard not pick Wasco. The Tigers are led by Isaiah Sharp and his 2,030 yards and 30 touchdowns. Wasco has scored at least 49 points in every game this year.

Chowchilla hit a speed bump last week against Liberty. The Redskins have a tough draw with a possible second-round matchup against Coalinga and then a potential semifinal game against Wasco.

Semifinals: Wasco, Coalinga, Bakersfield Christian and Mission Oak.

Championship: Wasco 49, Mission Oak 21

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