Buhach Colony, Atwater vie for football playoff berth

slynch@mercedsunstar.comNovember 7, 2013 

The Bloss Bowl has never had a shortage of drama.

Since its inception in 2006, the annual meeting between crosstown high school rivals Atwater and Buhach Colony has been decided by a single score in five of the seven games.

Buhach Colony has won five of the seven meetings, but the 2013 version should bring a whole new element of intensity with Falcon Field serving as the backdrop of an elimination game.

Despite last week's hiccup against Turlock, the Thunder (4-5, 2-2 Central California Conference) hold the league tiebreakers and can grab the CCC's second automatic playoff bid with a victory.

Atwater (5-4, 2-2 CCC) could also finish second, but would need to win and to get help with a Pitman loss. A victory would be the Falcons' sixth, however. A 6-4 record is no guarantee of the playoffs this season, but with their opponents' very respectable 53 cumulative wins entering tonight, it should be enough for Atwater.

"With the first- and second-place teams automatically going, we still have a chance," BC coach Kevin Swartwood said. "Last week was tough, but the kids haven't hung their heads about it.

"They know we still have an opportunity, and it's been a really excellent week of practice so far."

The BC defense limps into this one having surrendered 117 points the last three weeks, an average of 39 per game.

The Atwater offense, on the other hand, has only topped 22 points once in its last five contests. It presents a classic case of something having to give.

"Only the winner makes the playoffs and the loser is out," Atwater coach Bob Valladao said. "It's been a heated game anyway. It's a big rivalry. This just adds to the mix."

The Bloss Bowl isn't the only rivalry game with playoff implications in the final week of the regular season. Here's a look at the rest of the night's action:

Battle for the Mayor's Cup

WHO: Merced (8-2, 4-0 CCC) vs. Golden Valley (3-6, 1-3 CCC)

WHERE: Veterans Stadium

AT STAKE: Merced holds an 11-8 all-time series lead, including seven straight victories.

The Bears will be looking to close out a perfect CCC season and secure what has been projected to be a top-5 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs.

Golden Valley wants to end on a high note and start building for 2014.

Crosstown Clash

WHO: Los Banos (5-4, 2-3 WAC) vs. Pacheco (6-3, 3-2 WAC)

WHERE: At Pacheco High

AT STAKE: Pacheco is aiming for its first-ever victory in the youngest of the intracity rivalries, with LB winning the first two.

The Panthers are already likely in the Division 3 playoffs, but a seventh win would likely move them toward the middle of the bracket and a more appealing first-round matchup. The Tigers aren't a lock for the D4 playoffs with a sixth win, but are guaranteed to be staying home without one.

Southern League title game

WHO: Le Grand (9-0, 6-0 SL) vs. Ripon Christian (8-1, 6-0 SL)

WHERE: At Ripon High

AT STAKE: Both teams are already in the playoffs and likely the favorites to win the blue banners in their respective divisions. But before that can happen, the Southern League crown needs to be decided. With it, the winner will grab the top seed in Division 5 or 6 for the playoffs. The Bulldogs have had this one circled on their calenders for more than a year after the Knights handed them their only SL loss in their last 36 league games.

- Sports writer Shawn Jansen contributed to this report

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