Two contrasting styles of football will be highlighted when Merced High hosts Jesuit of Carmichael in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs.
The fifth-seed Bears (8-2) love to air it out with quarterback Tyrone Williams and their spread offense. The No. 12 seed Marauders (7-3) look to pound teams with their ground attack and running backs Ben Parietti (1,228 yards and 17 touchdowns) and Beau Bisharat (814 yards and 10 touchdowns).
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Veterans Stadium.
“Obviously, they are a veer team and they like to pound the ball and be physical,” Merced head coach Rob Scheidt said. “At the same time, they have good athletes doing what they’re doing. Against their style of play we have to be efficient on offense and keep the ball away from their offense.”
Parietti is Jesuit’s speed back at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds. He’s a threat to break long runs from anywhere. Bisharat is a power fullback at 6-3, 215 pounds who will hammer away at the defense.
The Marauders three losses all came within conference play in the Delta River League, which is considered the top league in the section.
In Jesuit’s three losses, teams were able to throw on them. Oak Ridge quarterback Ian Book threw for 398 yards and five touchdowns.
The Bears opened Central California Conference play firing on all cylinders offensively against Buhach Colony and Turlock, but they will have to clean up the penalties that have plagued them the last three weeks.
“I think we always evaluate effort first and I think our effort has been very good,” Scheidt said. “We have to make the effort and play smart. We have to play well on both sides. We can’t get the penalties or drop footballs.”
Atwater (6-4) will also have a tough matchup tonight at Elk Grove (9-1) in the Division 2 playoffs. The Falcons earned the No. 14 seed after defeating Buhach Colony 29-26 last week.
Third-seeded Elk Grove features a dominant defense that has recorded three shutouts.
“We’ve got to match their physicality,” Atwater head coach Bob Valladao said. “We’ve got to go toe-to-toe with them. They don’t have a lot of numbers. They have a lot of guys going both ways, but you can tell by watching them on film their style of play.”
They’re aggressive and they go after it for four quarters. They have guys who don’t leave the field and there is no drop off late in the game. That’s impressive.”