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Playoff History Books Will Be Rewritten Friday

Placer hosting for 1st Time Since 1980; Colfax-MC Have History
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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With the Pioneer Valley League sending four of its teams to the prep football playoffs which begin Friday, it’s time to dust off the history books and get fans geared up for what should be some interesting grid match-ups that this season in Div. IV should keep us intrigued all the way into the second week of December. First, in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s Div. IV A bracket, when Placer hosts Foothill and Lincoln entertains Livingston Friday it will mark the first time the Hillmen have hosted a playoff football game in some 29 years and only the second time in school annals that the Zebras have entertained in the post season. Meanwhile, defending Div. IV champion Whitney will play Sonora for the second time in three seasons in a first round game. In 2007, Whitney defeated Sonora in Rocklin. Friday, however, Whitney must make the two-hour bus trip to Sonora for a battle between two teams both dubbed Wildcats. Friday’s Placer-Foothill game at Lefebvre Stadium will be the first time the Hillmen have donned their dark home jerseys in the post season since the 1980 team defeated Ponderosa, 35-8, in the section “AA” championship game. All-time at home in the playoffs, the Hillmen are 7-1 with the lone loss coming at the hands of Ponderosa, 35-13, in the first round of the 1979 playoffs. Ponderosa, behind standout running back Bryce Oglesby, who later played at Oregon State and led the Pac-10 in rushing one season, went on to win its second consecutive section “AA” crown that season. In the early section playoff format when championship games were played at home sites, Placer at home defeated Ponderosa, 33-7, in the 1977 championship game and in one of the more memorable games witnessed by this writer, topped St. Mary’s of Stockton, 28-20, in the 1976 finale. First round home game wins achieved by the Hillmen include a 40-6 win over Galt in 1976 and a 14-0 win over El Dorado in 1977. Remarkably, Placer’s last section title team – the 1981 squad – won all three of its playoff games on the road. The Hillmen, a second place team, defeated Elk Grove, 9-0, in the opening round, outlasted Ponderosa at Shingle Springs in overtime, then topped Mira Loma, 30-6 for the title at American River College. It should also be noted that Placer’s 1978 team, which went 9-1, didn’t qualify for the playoffs that season after Nevada Union stopped the Hillmen’s 26-game win streak by handing Placer a 31-28 loss in the regular season finale. The Sierra Foothill League that season qualified just the league champion for the playoffs. Also, speaking of Placer-Ponderosa, the two schools won seven straight section AA championships, Placer (5) and Ponderosa (2), from 1975 to 1981. In Placer’s more recent playoff history, the Hillmen fell at Rio Americano, 21-17, in 1994; lost at Sonora, 55-13, in 1995, and in 1998 defeated West in Tracy, 35-22, before losing in the semi-final round to Rio Linda, 32-12. In 2000, the Hillmen won in the first round at Sonora, 33-27, before falling at Oak Ridge in the semi-finals, 20-14. Last season, of course, the Hillmen went on to win road playoff games at Oakdale and Dixon before losing to Whitney at Folsom in the section finals. Getting to Lincoln, the Zebras suffered road losses in 2006 to Manteca and 2004 to Oakdale. In 2000, the Zebras opened the playoffs by upsetting Hilmar, 14-13, on the road in overtime before falling to Colfax, 20-7 in the semi-finals on the Falcons’ field. Lincoln’s only home playoff game came in 1996 when the Zebras shared the Golden Empire League championship with Colfax and Golden Sierra but won the tie-breaker to get the league’s No. 1 seed. That season, Lincoln fell at McBean Park to Vanden, 43-13. Falcons-MC Have History While most prep sports followers know that Colfax and Modesto Christian have athletic history between them as the two schools met before for CIF basketball championships (2000, 2008), the Falcons and Crusaders have collided on the football field. In the 2001 playoffs, Colfax ventured to Salida for a first round Div. V playoff game and handed the Crusaders a 56-27 drubbing. Colfax then claimed the CIF title the following week with a 30-0 win at home over Summerville. Neutral Site Note In the CIF’s playoff brackets that were released Saturday, it is noted that if Rocklin and Grant meet in a Div. II semi-final round game on Dec. 4 that the contest will be played at a neutral site. While the CIF is being mum on the site of the game – if the brackets play out that way, the game will be played on a field that has artificial turf. Did You Know….. Clearing up internet banter on the subject of a late recovered Colfax onsides kick last Friday against Lincoln that was nullified by officials. In a play that the Falcons set up perfectly – where a Colfax player appears to be running off the field then cuts up instead and with perfect timing hauls in the pooch kick beyond 10 yards – in high school rules, an onside kick needs to touch the ground or a receiving player first. “We’ve run the play a couple of times before but the officials in those instances apparently never knew the rule,” said Colfax coach Tony Martello. “It is legal in college and the pros but not in high school. It was the right call.”