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Manteca rises in NorCal Bowl rankings
CalHiSports Rankings file 1
Manteca rises in NorCal Bowl rankings - photo by HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

The epic Week-1 clash between inter-section opponents Manteca and Wilcox of Santa Clara could be revisited in December, though much would have to happen between now and then for them to meet in a CIF NorCal Regional Bowl Game.

Wilcox edged the Buffaloes 28-27 in overtime on Sept. 6. Both teams made a splash with big wins last week and have moved up the Cal-Hi Sports rankings. Manteca is bumped up to No. 8 in the NorCal Bowl Division II rankings after beating previous No. 7 Oakdale, 35-20. That makes the 5-1 Buffaloes the frontrunner in the Valley Oak League after Oakdale grabbed at least a piece of the last six titles.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Altamont hills, Wilcox (4-1) upended four-time defending De Anza champion Palo Alto, 42-39. Wilcox debuts in the Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area Top-25 rankings this week at No. 22.

The Chargers are not ranked in the NorCal Bowl poll because they will not be assigned a division until the Central Coast Section playoff brackets are released. The champion out of the tough De Anza conference will be placed in the Open Division, while other postseason qualifiers will compete in Division I or II. Division I and II teams from the CCS fall under Division II for Bowl consideration. Wilcox would likely rank highly in Division II because of the noteworthy wins over Manteca and Palo Alto — a two-time CIF Bowl finalist.

Only section champions are eligible to compete in the CIF regional Bowls. Section commissioners are meeting on Dec. 8 to determine the pairings for the 10 regional contests, using the Cal-Hi Sports rankings as a guide. The winners from each region will meet for state championships in the Open Division, Division I, Division II, Division III and Small School finals.

Notable Sac-Joaquin Section schools in the Division II-North rankings include No. 6 Casa Roble, No. 7 Rio Linda and No. 9 American Canyon. Sierra (5-1) is flying under the radar but can force itself into the top 10 with a win this Friday at Oakdale and another on Nov. 1 against Manteca, which has been ranked since Week 4. Top-ranked Clayton Valley of Concord is looking to return to the Division-II NorCal Bowl Game after losing to Oakdale last year.

Ripon (7-0) soared up the Division III ladder from No. 6 to 10 last week following landslide victories over Escalon and Modesto Christian. The area’s lone undefeated squad remains at 6 after beating Trans-Valley League preseason favorite Hughson, 30-14. The Indians travel to Hilmar this Friday in a battle of unbeatens. They would earn heavy consideration for a NorCal bid by running the table, with defending Small School state champion Central Catholic looming as the favorite in the SJS Division IV playoffs.

Ripon Christian was introduced to the Division IV/Small Schools rankings last week and took a step up to No. 9 following an 84-0 thrashing of Turlock Christian. The Knights’ best shot at making a big jump during the regular season comes in Week 10 with No. 3 Le Grand visiting. Le Grand is the three-time defending SJS Division V champion, while RC competes in Division VI for the postseason.