After the Sac-Joaquin Section released the football playoff brackets, the message from Merced High School coach Rob Scheidt was short and simple:
“Here we go!” Scheidt tweeted with a picture of the Division III bracket Saturday night.
Merced (7-3) is the No. 5 seed and will host No. 12 Beyer (7-3) on Thursday at Veterans Stadium at 7 p.m.
Scheidt wasn’t worried about seeds, matchups or divisions. He’s just happy to be playing in the postseason.
“For me, we’re a two-loss, third-place team in league,” Scheidt said. “I’m happy we’re still playing. I’m kind of old school. If you weren’t first or second in league, you didn’t make the playoffs. So it’s a good feeling to be in the playoffs.
“I had a really good 8-2 team in 2005 that didn’t make the playoffs. I thought they were a playoff team. The seeding will take care of itself. You just have to keep winning.”
Being in Division III is new for Merced. The Bears are used to slugging it out with the bigger schools in the section in Divisions I and II. So it will be different going up against different schools if Merced makes a deep run in the playoffs.
Beyer is a familiar foe. The Patriots and Bears were in the Central California Conference for years.
“I think I started getting texts from (Oakdale coach) Trent Merzon about a month ago regarding this,” Scheidt said. “A lot of people are surprised Merced is a school with 1,700 students. Del Campo was in Division II last year. So it’s new for a lot of us.”
The Bears would get a rematch with Del Campo (5-5) in the second round if each wins. The Cougars defeated the Bears 26-21 in the season opener, which ultimately gave Del Campo the No. 4 seed over Merced. Del Campo plays No. 13 East Union in the first round.
Four other area teams qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, and Chowchilla and Dos Palos earned high seeds in the Central Section playoffs.
Los Banos (7-3) is the No. 4 seed in Division IV and will host No. 5 El Dorado (8-2) of Placerville in the first round.
“We’re happy we get a home game,” Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso said. “El Dorado throws the ball a ton, and they have a receiver (Chris Volek) who is the real deal.”
Caropreso said Los Banos hopes to play Friday but won’t know for sure until athletic director Joseph Barcellos contacts El Dorado’s administration. With Veterans Day on Friday, games are scheduled for Thursday unless both schools agree to play Friday or Saturday.
While Caropreso was happy to see a home game, he wasn’t happy to see Manteca (9-1) fall to Division IV and gain the top seed. The Buffaloes are co-Valley Oak League champions and the heavy favorites in this field.
“That was the feeling, that, is everybody is playing for second if Manteca is in there?” Caropreso said. “The bracket would be wide open if Manteca wasn’t there.”
Hilmar (9-1) wrapped up the Trans-Valley League championship with a 21-7 win over Ripon on Friday and was rewarded with the No. 2 seed in Division V. The Yellowjackets will open against No. 7 Colfax (7-3) on Thursday.
Delhi (8-2) is the No. 7 seed in Division VI and will travel to Sacramento to face No. 2 Bradshaw Christian (10-0) on Thursday. The Lions are the defending section champions.
Stone Ridge Christian (8-2) will open at home against Delta of Clarksburg (4-6) in Division VII.
Buhach Colony (5-5) had its playoff bubble burst, as the Thunder finished one opponent’s win shy of making the playoffs.
Del Campo, Monterey Trail and Lincoln of Stockton were the only three 5-5 teams to receive at-large bids. The Thunder’s 10 opponents tallied 53 wins. Lincoln’s opponents totaled 54.
“That’s crazy,” Buhach Colony coach Kevin Navarra said. “I was preparing myself for it. All we could do was give ourselves a shot, but the bottom line is we know if you get six you’re in. You have to take care of business yourself.
“It’s more emotional because I’m proud of our seniors. I wanted to see them get a chance to experience the playoffs. They helped get us turned in the right direction.”
Chowchilla (8-1) earned the No. 3 seed in the Central Section Division IV playoffs. The defending Valley champion will have a first-round bye.
Dos Palos (6-4) is the No. 2 seed in Division V and will host No. 15 Kern Valley (5-5) on Thursday at 7 p.m.