Two Manteca area teams are in, and three others are on the bubble.
Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff spots are on the line Friday when the regular season comes to a close.
Ripon Christian (5-4) is currently on the outside looking in but can vault itself into the Division-VI bracket with a road win over 1-8 Gustine Friday. The Knights have made just one postseason appearance (2005) since the program’s inaugural varsity season in 2004.
Only 12 teams total qualify for the SJS Division-V and VI brackets, and according to the Manteca Bulletin’s postseason projections the Knights are No. 13.
A win Friday, however, could move them up three spots with No. 12 Rite of Passage/Sierra Ridge facing undefeated Millennium Friday and No. 10 Vacaville Christian taking on Division-VI favorite Bradshaw Christian. Eleventh-seeded Golden Sierra (5-5) is idle and would need for RC to lose.
It’s not so clear cut for Valley Oak League rivals Sierra and Weston Ranch, two 4-5 squads that just so happen to be squaring off at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium this Friday.
They are vying for a spot in the Division-III bracket, which is a part of a 64-team qualifying pool in Divisions I-IV. Sierra is 68 and Weston Ranch 69 in the Bulletin’s projections, but both are knotted in the “opponents’ combined wins” tiebreaker with 38.
The Sierra-Weston Ranch winner has a realistic chance, but a lot has to go its way. Two potential 4-6 finishers could spoil it: Vintage can secure an automatic berth with a win over Napa, while Dixon is in a three-way tie for first place in the Golden Empire League. Teams that finish in the top two of their leagues automatically qualify regardless of overall wins.
Dixon ends the regular season with Capital Christian, which is also battling for at least a co-championship. That matchup is likely to be moot for Sierra and Weston Ranch since one is sure to get in. The same goes for the Summerville-Linden game in the Mother Lode League — both bubble teams boast more opponents’ wins than Sierra and Weston Ranch.
Only one team with at least five wins in Divisions I-IV is not a projected playoff team. Woodcreek isn’t playoff eligible because it hasn’t fulfilled the two-win prerequisite in league, and it plays highly-favored Del Oro on Friday.
Jesuit also only has one win in conference play, but a triumph over 2-7 Ponderosa would likely catapult it into contention for a playoff berth because of its favorable strength of schedule (48 opponents’ wins).
Other teams that Sierra or Weston Ranch could leapfrog are Johansen, Bret Harte, Sacramento, Center and Lodi.
Manteca and Ripon are solidly locked in — the former is No. 4 in Division III, and the Indians are No. 5 in Division IV.
Should Manteca beat East Union (1-8) Friday, it will likely retain its top-four position with a chance of moving up a spot. With VOL foe Oakdale currently the No. 1 seed, the section can switch Manteca with No. 3 Los Banos to avoid a potential all-VOL semifinal.
Ripon is likely to remain as the fifth seed in D-IV if it beats Orestimba. The Indians could move into the No. 4 spot if Amador upsets current No. 4 Argonaut. Ripon holds the head-to-head advantage over Argonaut with a 33-19 non-league win.