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.
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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.