Merced High School football coach Rob Scheidt doesn’t take being in the postseason for granted.
Sure, this is the Bears’ fifth consecutive year making the playoffs and the fourth straight season Merced has earned a home game. However, it wasn’t too long ago that Merced missed the playoffs three years in a row with three straight 4-6 seasons.
“For us, it’s special because we’re the only game in town,” Scheidt said. “There’s not too many things going on outside of this playoff game. Our guys will bring a lot of energy. Our seniors know this is it. If we don’t win, we’re turning our stuff in. So our younger guys are doing a good job of learning from our seniors.”
As the fifth seed, Merced (7-3) will host No. 12 Beyer (7-3) in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III opener at Veterans Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Patriots have closed the season well, winning seven of their last eight games. Beyer is averaging close to 400 total yards per game, including 254 on the ground. The Patriots are averaging 34 points.
However, the bulk of those statistics have been accumulated against Modesto Metro Conference teams. Central California Conference teams went 5-2 against MMC teams. The MMC has also compiled a 1-10 record in the playoffs the last three seasons.
Still, you won’t find the Bears overlooking the Patriots.
“They have some explosive players,” Scheidt said. “We’re going to have to defend that. They’ve won seven games. It’s a playoff game. We expect to get their best.”
Beyer’s D.J. Jackson rushed for 132 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Patriots’ 34-14 win over Modesto to close the regular season. Beyer spreads the ball around on offense with their Wing-T attack.
Merced finished its regular season with a 44-14 win over Golden Valley, which defeated Beyer 42-26 this season.
“If we play well, we should be in good shape,” Scheidt said. “We have to play well, though.”
No. 7 Colfax (7-3) at No. 2 Hilmar (9-1) – Hilmar will have to rely a little more on its defense with quarterback Chase Kindberg out. The defense was up to the challenge in last week’s 21-7 win over Ripon.
Colfax brings a balanced offensive attack, using two quarterbacks and two running backs.
Hilmar’s Tristan Crowley should be a little more prepared after making his first start at quarterback last week. Running back Cody Rentfro did a lot of the heavy lifting with 189 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
No. 7 Delhi (8-2) at No. 2 Bradshaw Christian (10-0) – Tough draw for Delhi after its best finish in school history. The Lions are the defending section champions after defeating Hilmar 28-18 in the final last year. Bradshaw Christian features two 1,000-yard backs in Mateo Bromstead and Gerrett Robbins. The duo has combined for 32 touchdowns. This game could end early with both teams liking to keep the ball on the ground.
Delta (4-6) at Stone Ridge Christian (8-2) – The Knights could use an easy matchup after dropping their final two games. Stone Ridge Christian couldn’t stop Big Valley Christian running back Vito Merritt, who rushed for 360 yards against the Knights last week. SRC could use this week to turn things around as they try to win a third consecutive section title.
No. 15 Kern Valley (5-5) at No. 2 Dos Palos (6-4) – Dos Palos has the hot hand heading into the playoffs with four straight wins. Dos Palos has outscored its opponents 118-0 in the last three games. Can the Broncos make it four consecutive shutouts?