No need to speculate on who is in and who is out of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoff hunt for Manteca-area teams.
Manteca, Sierra and Ripon Christian are shoo-ins even though they don’t have automatic bids locked up going into their Week-10 contests. The remaining squads in the Manteca Bulletin’s coverage area — East Union, Lathrop, Ripon and Weston Ranch — each have just three wins.
There is still much for the local postseason qualifiers to play for.
Despite a 34-20 loss at Manteca, Sierra (8-1) can still wrap up a share of the Valley Oak League championship this Friday at Weston Ranch. Oakdale and Central Catholic will scrap for the other half of the title share at The Corral.
Manteca (7-2) has no shot at an automatic berth, but like Sierra the reigning Division III champion Buffaloes can grab a coveted top-four seed in the 16-team Division III bracket. They cap the regular season at East Union with city bragging rights also on the line.
Ripon Christian (7-2) could seize one of the Southern League’s two automatic berths with a win over Delhi (5-4) and a Mariposa loss to Le Grand. The Knights are competing in Division VI. The Divisions IV-VI brackets will be comprised of eight teams apiece under the section’s revised format.
In all, 72 teams qualify in Divisions I-VI, with 44 automatic entries coming out of 21 leagues (top two for each except for the Delta and Sierra Foothill leagues, which each get three) and 28 at-large advancers making it based on total number of wins.
Working off the section’s Week-9 “win totals” list, the Bulletin was able to determine which teams are in the running to make the Division III and VI brackets. Only one school with six or more overall victories, Cordova, was excluded for not having the requisite two league wins, and Central Valley took its place in Division II.
Since there are still many league championships and runner-up spots up for grabs automatic bids were not taken into account. MaxPreps computer ratings were used to determine seedings to further simplify the process. In years past, total wins helped the SJS playoff committee come up with seedings, but now a heavier emphasis will be placed on strength of schedule (opponents’ total wins) and leagues. The section may also use head-to-head results while rewarding league champions with more favorable seeds.
Inderkum, Oakdale, Sierra and Manteca make up the top four in that order in the Bulletin’s very unofficial Week-9 Division III bracket. If all four teams win Friday, don’t be surprised to see the section place Sierra in the No. 2 spot — and quite possibly No. 1 — since the Timberwolves defeated Oakdale 32-20 three weeks ago.
Manteca could get bumped out of the top four in favor of potential outright league champs such as Placer (7-2), Pacheco (7-2), Los Banos (7-2) American Canyon (7-2), Christian Brothers (8-1) and undefeated El Dorado but has an advantage in strength of schedule.
Ripon Christian is fourth in the Bulletin’s Division-VI bracket and can secure a home playoff game by beating Delhi. The Knights can probably rise no further with heavy favorites Capital Christian and Modesto Christian likely to occupy the top two seeds and defending champion Bradshaw Christian at No. 3.
The section is hosting a selection show online through NFHS Network (www.nfhsnetwork.com/associations/cifsjs) this Saturday starting at around 5:30 p.m.