Among local teams, Tracy High has the only lock on a playoff spot, while Kimball sits on the edge between a playoff berth and an end to the 2012 season. Both West and Millennium are out of playoff contention this year.
The Bulldogs (6-3, 3-1 San Joaquin Athletic Association) are in second place in the league and will face the Bear Creek Bruins (2-7, 1-3 SJAA) Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:15 p.m. at West High’s Steve Lopez Stadium.
Taking the helm for the Tracy team is sophomore quarterback Michael Brown, who came up from the junior varsity team last week after the Bulldogs’ first- and second-string quarterbacks were injured in Tracy’s game against Lincoln on Oct. 19.
Senior quarterback Luke Hanna is out with a shoulder injury, but could be ready for playoffs. Junior quarterback Damon Stroup is out for the season with a concussion.
Brown said he quickly adjusted to his new role, with Tracy’s playoff hopes in mind, during last week’s 28-20 win over Chavez.
“You mainly have the quarterback and fullback chemistry, which is really important,” Brown said. “I think we were still working on it and getting into the groove of things. At halftime we started playing our kind of football.”
A win over the Bruins Friday will give Tracy a fairly even matchup for the first round of playoffs. A loss would give the Bulldogs a lower seed and could put them up against one the section’s strongest teams in the first round.
Tracy coach Matt Shrout has looked at the potential outcome of Week 10 in a few different ways, but still figures that the final brackets, which come out Saturday afternoon, could contain some surprises.
“It’s kind of a guessing game right now. You don’t really know,” he said.
He guessed that Tracy could end up as high as the 10th seed in Division II, which could include teams like Folsom and Elk Grove, both ranked among the top 15 in the state, according to Cal Hi Sports, a news service that tracks high school sports.
The structure for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs has the top 64 teams in Division I-IV, and the top 12 in Divisions V and VI, going to post-season play. League champions and runners-up go to playoffs regardless of total wins, and at-large teams are selected based on their overall records, provided they have at least two league wins.
Teams are then divided by school population into four 16-team brackets for Divisions I-IV and two six-teams brackets for Division V-VI. The biggest schools go to Division I, the smallest to Division VI. Schools with 2,000 or more students tend to go to Division I.
After the top 64 in Divisions I-IV are divided by size, Tracy, with 1,880 students, and Kimball, with 1,961 students, would go to Division II, though even that could change depending on who ends up in the top 64. Division II could also be heavy on teams with records of 8-2 or better, based on Week 9 rankings.
“Division II the last few years has been a lot tougher to get through than Division I,” Shrout said.
Kimball’s playoff prospects precarious
As of Week 9 the Jaguars (4-5, 3-3 Valley Oak League) were ranked 73rd in the section. Coach Steve Anastasio is confident his team will beat Lathrop (0-9, 0-6 VOL) at home on Friday, which will move Kimball up in the rankings. That alone won’t be enough to move the Jaguars into the top 64. Anastasio said it’s a matter now of how many teams that are 5-4 or 4-5 as of Week 9 end up losing on Friday.
Some teams that finish at 5-5 will go to playoffs. Those will be the teams whose opponents had the most wins during the season, affirming that the teams faced tough competition. Kimball’s opponents so far have 44 total wins.
“I figure there are about 16 games that matter to us right now. We need about eight of those games to go our way,” Anastasio said. “We still have a chance and we’re still going to play hard.”
“The only thing we can do is win Friday and see what happens and how it shakes up Saturday.”
Kimball’s varsity plays at 7:15 p.m. in Don Nicholson Stadium. Sophomores play at 5 p.m.
West plays Stagg in Stockton tonight at 7:15 p.m., and Millennium plays Brookside Christian at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, in Steve Lopez Stadium.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.