The gauntlet begins for the Merced football team.
Rob Scheidt's team will face two defending section champions -- Napa and Loomis Del Oro and a team ranked 27th in the country in Fresno Edison in the next three weeks.
It starts tonight in Napa.
"There's a lot at stake beyond our section," said Scheidt, whose team is fifth in the NorCal Bowl rankings and Napa ninth.
While Merced may be without star Bernard Bolden (ankle) again, Napa running back Logan Hess -- who ran for 138 yards and two touchdown in a 29-9 win over Folsom Vista Del Lago -- is also questionable with a strained groin.