Games to Watch and predictions for the first round of the football playoffs

The temperature is getting colder and that could only mean one thing — high school football playoffs are here.

The Bee’s sports reporter Julian A. Lopez and football writer Jim Silva highlight their games to watch this week along with predictions: (Note: They do not predict games they will be covering):

NameLast WeekOverall
Jim Silva2-240-12
Julian A. Lopez4-035-18

No. 11 Gregori (6-4) at No. 6 Davis Sr. (9-1), 7 p.m. at Davis Sr. High School

After a win over Enochs last week, the Jaguars qualified for the playoffs for the seventh straight season. Jaguars senior running back Titus Rhiney has 1,082 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

The Blue Devils won the Delta League and junior running back Aaron Turner has 13 rushing touchdowns.

Jim Silva: Davis Sr. 28, Gregori 20. Jaguars come off a confidence-building shutout win over Enochs, but Davis Sr. is a much tougher test.

Julian A. Lopez: Davis Sr. 28, Gregori 24. This will be a tough game for both teams but I give the edge to the home team.

No. 10 Del Oro (6-4) at No. 7 Turlock (8-2), 7 p.m. at Turlock High School

Del Oro won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title last year over Central Catholic but later had to vacate it because an ineligible player participated in an early round playoff game. Golden Eagles junior linebacker Jacob Birch has 85 tackles and 11 tackles for a loss.

Turlock won its second straight Central California Athletic League title behind a strong defense, which allowed 15 points per game.

JS: Covering game.

JL: Turlock 21, Del Oro 17. If you like low-scoring, good defensive games, this one is for you.

No. 12 Tracy (4-6) at No. 5 Central Catholic (5-5), 7 p.m. at Central Catholic High School

This game could be high scoring. Both teams allow over 30 points per game.

Central Catholic had its five-game winning streak snapped last week with a loss to Oakdale. Raiders senior quarterback Dalton Durossette has at least two touchdowns in each of his last six games.

Bulldogs senior quarterback Logan Fife had 21 touchdowns and has committed to Fresno State.

JS: Central Catholic 56, Tracy 27. Raiders couldn’t take care of Oakdale at home last week and Tracy features a future Fresno State QB. Still like Central.

JL: Covering game.

No. 10 Downey (7-3) at No. 7 Granite Bay (4-6), 7 p.m. at Granite Bay High School

The Knights open the Div. II playoffs with a 95-mile trip to face the Grizzlies.

Quietly, Downey’s defense has allowed only 12 points in the last three games and senior linebacker David Gorman leads the team with 96 tackles and 21 tackles for a loss.

The Grizzlies have lost three in a row but they do play in the Sierra Foothill League, one of the top leagues in the section. Six of the seven teams in the SFL made the playoffs.

JS: Downey 35, Granite Bay 31. Love the Knights’ offense — Gouker, Harris, Rivera and Co. — and Granite Bay has lost three straight. Going to be a good game.

JL: Downey 31, Granite Bay 28. The Knights have played good football in their last four games. I’ll pick them.

No. 11 Beyer (6-4) at No. 6 Merced (5-5), 7 p.m. at Golden Valley High School

The Western Athletic Conference Champions travel to face the Bears in the Div. IV playoffs.

Patriots senior running back Sean Perkins had seven rushing touchdowns and leads the team with 102 tackles.

The Bears are back in the playoffs for the second straight year and look to avenge last year’s first-round loss after a 10-0 regular season.

JS: Merced 24, Beyer 10. If Beyer sophomore standout Darius Murphy was 100-percent healthy it would be much closer. Bears are just too tough for Patriots.

JL: Merced 31, Beyer 17. I agree, Jim. Murphy’s ankle injury has me concerned in this matchup.

No. 12 Kimball (5-5) at No. 5 Atwater (7-3), 7 p.m. at Atwater High School

Atwater junior quarterback Julius Peacock has 2,204 total yards and 19 touchdowns and the Falcons lost to 10-0 Buhach Colony, 14-13, last week.

Kimball sophomore Nicholas Coronado has 2,405 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns.

JS: Atwater 27, Kimball 14. Falcons have gone toe-to-toe with the CCC’s toughest teams. Kimball has given up 204 points in last three weeks.

JL: Atwater 38, Kimball 17. The Falcons are good. They showed it last week. I’ll take Atwater.

No. 10 Del Campo (5-5) at No. 7 Patterson (6-4), 7 p.m. at Patterson High School

Patterson ended the regular season winning three of its last four games.

The Tigers averaged over 37 points per game and junior quarterback Logan McCleery has 17 total touchdowns.

The Cougars have lost three of their last five games.

JS: Patterson 35, Del Campo 28. Tigers have won three out of their last four games and Del Campo has to make a long trip for this game.

JL: Patterson 38, Del Campo 24. The Tigers offense scores a lot. At home for potentially the final time, they get the win.

No. 9 Hughson (4-6) at No. 8 Linden (7-3), 7 p.m. at Linden High School

Yes, Hughson has lost three in a row but all three losses were to teams (Escalon, Hilmar, and Ripon) which have first-round byes.

Linden junior running back James Sherman Jr. has 993 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in only six games.

JS: Hughson 24, Linden 14. Linden rides a four-game win streak, but Hughson comes from the toughest small-school league in the state.

JL: Linden 28, Hughson 24. Another close game. I’ll continue picking the home teams.

No. 5 Big Valley Christian (6-4) at No. 4 Le Grand (5-5), 7 p.m. at Le Grand High School

A rematch of the Sept. 6 nonleague game between the schools in which the Bulldogs’ won, 41-28.

Big Valley Christian coach Brian Berkefeld said his team has improved since that game.

Le Grand has three players with at least three rushing touchdowns and six with at least four tackles for a loss.

JS: Le Grand 17, Big Valley Christian 14. Le Grand is battle-tested from playing in the tough Southern League. Lions are 1-3 on the road this season

JL: Big Valley Christian 21, Le Grand 17. Berkefeld likes his team’s chances. Always listen to a coach.


CIF Sac-Joaquin Section High School Football Playoffs

Nov. 8

7 p.m.: Gregori at Davis Sr., Del Oro at Turlock, Tracy at Central Catholic, Downey at Granite Bay, Golden Valley at Sierra, Kimball at Atwater, Beyer at Merced, Del Campo at Patterson, Los Banos at Woodland, Livingston at Rosemont, Hughson at Linden, Big Valley Christian at Le Grand:

Byes: Buhach Colony, Denair, Escalon, Hilmar, Manteca, Oakdale, Ripon, Ripon Christian, Sonora

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Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.