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Prep Roundup

Placer-Bear River II? Could Happen

Unsettled Playoff Picture May Land Rivals In Div. IV
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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When players from Placer and Bear River shook hands and exchanged post game pleasantries at midfield of LeFevbre Stadium following last Friday’s battle of unbeaten Pioneer Valley League football teams, both the Hillmen and Bruins left the field probably thinking that they had seen the last of each other. But just like the rapid changing fuel prices that drivers have faced at the gas pumps the last few weeks, quoting Lee Corso: “ Not so fast my friend.” In a new twist to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff projections, a post-season scenario is rapidly developing that three weeks ago seemed to be far-fetched by most prep grid observers. “Yes, there’s some different possibilities that are lining up out there,” said CIF Sac-Joaquin Section assistant commissioner John Williams after the section office released its first season win totals for playoff purposes on Monday. “It always gets interesting this time of the season.” One of those new possibilities – barring some major upsets over the next three weeks – is that Placer and Bear River may both land in the CIF’s Div. IV playoff bracket. A week ago, Placer, which defeated the Bruins, 14-7 Friday in a hard-fought battle to improve on the season to 7-0, seemed destined for the Div. III playoffs where the Hillmen have played the last two seasons. But in the CIF Sac-Joaquin’s playoff system that brings both league and total wins into play, some games played last Friday carried some weight that has shifted the playoff scenario. Thanks to a 20-17 win by River City over Liberty Ranch, an unassuming 25-6 win by Hughson over Orestimba in the southern part of the section, and the inability of two Div. IV playoff staples – Colfax and Sonora - to yet become eligible for the post-season, this year’s Div. IV bracket could be in for a shake-up. “There’s a long way to go but it looks like if some Div. IV teams that usually qualify don’t this season, some teams from Div. III would slide into Div. IV, ” Williams added. “We just won’t know until all the games are played.” Because three leagues – the Sierra Valley, Trans Valley and Western Athletic – are seven-team leagues, several teams have already played eight games and only have two games remaining. “It looks like there will be some teams with five wins make it to the playoffs this season,” said Williams. “Again these are projections without any big upsets plugged in. Of course, we all know that can change.” Here’s how the PVL’s playoff possibilities line-up, at least for this week: Placer (7-0, 2-0) – The Hillmen became playoff eligible with their win over Bear River. If Placer can run the table (Lincoln, Colfax, Center) and finish at 10-0, the Green and Gold would have a good shot at being the No. 1 seed regardless of the Hillmen landing in either the Div. III or Div. IV playoffs that begin on Nov. 9. Center (6-1, 2-0) – The Cougars have quietly shifted gears from up-starts to bona fide contenders. Blessed with some extraordinary speed at the skill player positions, Center, like Placer, is another team that could land in Div. III or Div. IV. The Cougars have five students less than Placer and would drop into to Div. IV before the Hillmen. Bear River (6-1, 1-1) – Bear River, which hosts Center Friday in the PVL’s “Game of the Week”, needs another league win to become playoff eligible. Following the game with the Cougars, the Bruins host Lincoln and Foothill. Depending on where Placer and Center land in the playoffs, a 9-1 or 8-2 finish by the Bruins could earn them a top four seed in Div. IV and the possibility of playing two home games. Colfax (3-4, 0-2) – The Falcons, who have reached the playoffs in 14 of coach Tony Martello’s previous 16 seasons at their helm, still have some work to do with games remaining against Foothill, Placer and Lincoln. First, the Falcons need to secure two league wins. By doing that, and because of a high percentage in the “opponents wins” total, the Falcons have an outside shot of reaching the post season at 5-5. Lincoln (4-3, 1-1) – Like the Falcons, Lincoln still has some work ahead of them. The Zebras could lose to both Placer and Bear River but defeat Colfax to finish 5-5. Still, the Zebras will be looking for enough opponents wins to reach the Div. III field. Foothill (1-6, 0-2) – The Mustangs have Colfax, Center and Bear River left on their schedule and will be looking to play spoiler.