As promised, here’s my look at the Division III playoff bracket. Before the questions start rolling in, yes, we will provide breakdowns of all North Coast Section playoff divisions. I’ll be breaking down Divisions III-V and Kyle Bonagura will handle Divisions I and II. It may be a couple of days before all the divisions are posted, but I wanted to get at least one up tonight to give you an idea of what kind of information we’ll be providing.
Currently, 21 teams are either eligible or possess the ability to still become eligible to make the field either by finishing with a .500 or better record overall, in league play or against teams within their enrollment division.
Thus far, 14 of those teams have clinched eligibility. That does not mean that those teams have clinched a playoff spot, because its possible that, unlike last year, there will be more than 16 eligible teams applying for a spot. I can reasonably see 17 teams being eligible and since all of them will have at least 4 wins, I would expect all of them would apply — unlike last year when some 2-win teams were eligible but did not appply.
Here’s a list of the 14 teams that have clinched eligibility through one of the three criteria: Acalanes, Alhambra, Analy, El Cerrito, Encinal, Fortuna, Healdsburg, Kennedy-Fremont, Marin Catholic, Moreau Catholic, Novato, Piedmont, Tamalpais, Terra Linda.
AGAIN, please don’t miscontrue this as me saying they’ve clinched a playoff spot. They have not.
Now, here is my list of the eight teams I feel are currently locks to earn a berth, in alphabetical order, along with their records (overall, league, division)
ALHAMBRA 7-1, 4-0 DFAL, 3-0 in Div. III — Candidate for top seed, should be within top three.
ANALY 5-3, 1-3 SCL, 3-1 Div. III — Not a great league record, but they should beat Sonoma Valley in two weeks and an eligible 6-win team will make the field
EL CERRITO 4-3, 2-1 ACCAL, 2-1 Div. III — Gauchos will beat Hercules and Richmond, so even if they lost to Alameda, they’d have six wins in a mostly Div. I and II league and easily get in
ENCINAL 6-1, 4-0 BSAL, 3-0 Div. III — Defending champs will probably be highly ranked in the coaches rankings and I think that will earn them the No. 1 seed
FORTUNA 5-2, 2-1 HDNL-Big 4, 4-0 Div. III — None of the divisional wins are against playoff teams, but next two games are against teams they’ve already beaten by a combined 91-8, so this will be a 7-win squad at least
HEALDSBURG 5-2, 2-1 SCL, 3-1 Div. III — Have wins over two playoff-eligible squads (Analy and Acalanes)
MARIN CATHOLIC 6-1, 4-0 MCAL, 2-0 Div. III — Candidate for that top seed, but I think Encinal will get it
NOVATO 5-3, 4-1 MCAL, 2-1 Div. III — WIll be among the upper half of the seedings, probably in the 4-6 range
Now, here are my three teams I consider probable:
KENNEDY – FREMONT 4-3, 2-1 MVAL, 2-1 Div. III — Already eligible because of the division record and the committee usually likes the strength of the MVAL, because it’s all Division I except for the Titans. Plus, I expect them to beat American and finish 5-5 (with losses to Washington and Logan)
PIEDMONT 4-3, 2-2 BSAL, 4-1 Div. III — The record within the division is solid and a win over Moreau or Swett gets them a guarantee of .500 overall. Could fall to a bubble team if they dropped their final three, but I don’t expect that to happen
TAMALPAIS 5-2, 2-2 MCAL, 3-1 Div. III — Probably can move these guys up to a lock and I will if they beat a 2-5 Redwood squad this week.
TERRA LINDA 4-3, 2-1 MCAL, 4-1 Div. III — Their seeding will take a beating because of the power scheduling the MCAL does of not having the last place teams face the first-place teams the next year so Terra Linda avoided both Marin Catholic and Novato. But they should beat a 1-6 San Marin team to bump the to 5 wins overall and 5 within the division
And now I have five teams that are on the bubble, two of which are playoff eligible already and the other three are still seeking eligibility. For those adding at home, with the addition of these five teams, I’m up to 17 that I see having a realistic shot at one of the 16 spots in the field
ACALANES 4-4, 3-1 DFAL, 2-2 in Div. III — Beat either Dublin or Campolindo in the final two weeks and you can actually leap them all the way up to a lock. But losses in those two games would make them a bubble team if we indeed have 17 or more eligible teams.
MIRAMONTE 3-4, 1-2 DFAL, 2-1 Div. III — From a No. 2 seed last year to the bubble? Yep, that’s the case. And Miramonte hasn’t even clinched playoff eligibility yet. With games left against Las Lomas, Dougherty Valley and Alhambra left, they are a game below .500 overall and in league. All they need to do though to become eligible is beat either Dougherty Valley (which should be doable) or Alhambra. That would clinch at least a .500 record in Division III. I think even at 4-6, they’d get in if they are eligible, although the loss to Acalanes hurts. If they win two of their final three and finish 5-5, it’s a no-brainer.
BISHOP O’DOWD 2-4-1, 2-2 HAAL, 0 games against Div. III — Another high seed from last year that’s on the bubble. The Dragons finish the year against San Leandro (a likely loss) and then play Castro Valley and Arroyo. If they indeed lose this week to San Leandro, they’ll need to beat both Castro Valley and Arroyo to finish 4-3 in the HAAL and just become eligible. A loss to either CV or Arroyo (assuming they lose to San Leandro) and O’Dowd won’t even be able to submit an application and will be watching this postseason.
CAMPOLINDO 4-4, 2-2 DFAL, 2-3 Div. III — Pretty simple for Campo, which finishes with Acalanes and Los Lomas. If they win one game, they are eligible and likely to get in. Lose them both — and neither of them will be easy games — and the Cougars will not be eligible.
MOREAU CATHOLIC 4-3, 3-1 BSAL, 2-0 Div. III — Like Acalanes, Moreau is already eligible. However, the Mariners have a grind in their final three games by playing Piedmont, SPSV and Encinal — the BSAL’s top three teams last year. If they finished 4-6, they’d indeed land on the bubble if we end up with more than 16 teams eligible. One win in those final three would ease any tension on the Hayward campus. Otherwise, the Mariners could become big-time Castro Valley and Arroyo fans in hopes of one of those teams beating O’Dowd to eliminate the Dragons.
Finally, here are my three longshots. Each is still mathematically within reach of a spot. And since only 14 teams have clinched, you have to consider the possibilities of teams that could become eligible despite a poor record since last year we saw that a couple of 2-win teams would’ve made the field had they applied. I don’t think any of this teams will be eligible, but as they say, there is a chance.
DEL NORTE 2-4, 1-2 HDNL BIG-4, 1-1 Div. III — Should beat Arcata again to become playoff eligible, but they’ll likely lose to Eureka and Fortuna and finish an unimpressive 3-6, which won’t be enough unless they get lucky and enough of those bubble teams don’t qualify.
DOUGHERTY VALLEY 2-5, 0-3 DFAL, 1-3 Div. III — If they beat Alhambra and Miramonte the next two weeks, they’d get to 2-2 in Division III. And if they won out, they’d be .500 overall and in league. Those situations are unlikely and they’ll probably be eliminated after this week’s game with Alhambra.
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE 2-5, 1-3 MCAL, 1-4 Div. III — A loss to Marin Catholic this week would eliminate them and that is very likely what will happen.
SONOMA VALLEY 3-5, 1-3 SCL, 2-2 Div. III — Not as much of a longshot as the others because it actually only needs to beat Analy to get to 3-2 within Division III and be eligible. But since I don’t expect that to happen, I toss them on as a longshot.
Alrighty folks, there is my breakdown for this week. Hopefully we’ll be able to shrink this down a little bit the next couple of weeks as we see what happens on the field. Next week I’ll go for throwing out projected seedings, but for the first edition I wanted to focus on who I think will get in the field, which I think is the more important question. I’ll come back later (or maybe tomorrow) with a look at the Division IV and V fields.