I’ve gone through each division and broken down what the playoff picture looks like entering the final week. It should be fun to see how it shakes out on the field and on Sunday.
Qualifiers: De La Salle, James Logan, San Ramon Valley, California, Freedom, Pittsburg, Monte Vista, Berkeley, San Leandro, Antioch, Castro Valley, Irvington, Heritage.
Bubble: Amador Valley, Deer Valley.
The Skinny: This division is pretty cut and dried. There are 13 teams that have qualified. Most of those are pretty obvious. Castro Valley is in there with a 4-2 HAAL record. The Trojans will be busy this week, playing Hayward on Thursday and then resuming its suspended game with Newark Memorial on Saturday. Regardless of those outcomes, the Trojans are qualified. Irvington is also qualified based on a 1-1 record against Division I teams. Essentially, the Vikings win over Mission San Jose makes them eligible. Heritage is eligible because it is 4-3 (and can finish no worse than 4-4) against Div. I teams. The Patriots beat Independence-San Jose, and based on enrollment size, that qualifies as a D-I win for Heritage and so they are eligible.
The two bubble teams both need a win this week to get in. Amador Valley has a tough game with a determined Foothill squad that would love nothing more than to spoil the season for its cross-town rival. Deer Valley plays Heritage and needs a victory to get in.
However it works out, De La Salle can plan to sit at home for the first week. At best, 15 teams will qualify. At worst, it’ll stay at 13 and three teams would get byes.
Division II Qualifiers:
Qualifiers:Windsor, Las Lomas, Concord, Rancho Cotate, Casa Grande, College Park, Dublin, Maria Carrillo, Montgomery, Clayton Valley, Newark Memorial, Dougherty Valley, American, Washington, Arroyo, Pinole Valley, Redwood, Hayward, Alameda.
Bubble:Ukiah, Northgate, Mt. Eden.
The Skinny:There are already 19 teams in this division that have qualified. Dougherty Valley is a qualifier because Oakland counts as a D-II win to make them 2-1 in the division. Redwood qualifies because it beat Mt. Diablo and that makes it 1-0 in the division. Alameda went 2-2 in the division to be a qualifier, although with its season over at 3-7 and just owning wins over De Anza, San Lorenzo and Richmond, I’d say the Hornets are a long shot.
The three bubble teams could be qualifiers after this week. Ukiah needs to beat Piner and Northgate needs to beat Concord. Mt. Eden would qualify with a 2-2 division record if it beat San Lorenzo, but the Monarchs aren’t going to stack up so I would throw them out. Northgate is also going to have a very tough time with a Concord team that will probably be pretty inspired after last week’s loss.
To be honest, picking the 16 teams to get in is going to be pretty tough. I’m going to assume Ukiah, which has a very good win over Casa Grande, beats Piner this week to qualify. I’ll also assume Northgate loses. That puts us at 20 teams in the pool to consider. Which four get left out?
I can’t say I’m too impressed with Redwood’s resume, with only the Mt. D win making them eligible. I think Alameda also gets left out. Hayward could very well lose to Catro Valley and finish 3-7 (with only wins over Mt. D, Mt. Eden, and San Lorenzo). I think without a win over CV, the Farmers are probably out. Washington will probably lose to Logan and finish 3-7. Not a great record, but they do own a win over Newark so that’ll make things interesting. Montgomery is also 3-7 and Dougherty Valley could be 3-7 if it loses to Dublin. If we end up choosing between those three teams, it’ll be a tough call. We’ll see on Sunday.
Division III Qualfiers:
Qualfiers:Marin Catholic, Cardinal Newman, Encinal, Campolindo, Miramonte, Novato, Eureka, Bishop O’Dowd, El Cerrito, Analy, Tamalpais, Del Norte, Tennyson, San Marin, Sir Francis Drake, Hercules.
Bubble:Acalanes, Sonoma Valley, Kennedy-Richmond, Ygnacio Valley.
The Skinny:We already have 16 teams qualified, so no first-round byes this year. Four more teams could become qualifiers. That’s Acalanes, which needs to beat Las Lomas this week. Sonoma Valley needs to beat Analy. Kennedy-Richmond needs to beat Piedmont and Ygnacio Valley needs to beat Clayton Valley. Of those teams, I would say if Acalanes get the win, it would probably get in, possibly squeezing out a team like Hercules. I think Hercules needs to beat Pinole Valley this week to fully secure themselves the spot. They really don’t have a win to hang their hat on this year.
There won’t be any teams with losing overall records in this division, which again speaks to the depth that we’ve talked about all year. That means that even if Kennedy-Richmond wins to get eligible, it remains a longshot. That’s especially true for YV, 3-7 just isn’t going to cut it. My gut tells me that the 16 teams that are currently qualified are probably going to be your 16 teams that make it. I think Acalanes is your wild card, because a win over Las Lomas would make them worthy. But I think Las Lomas will win that game.
Division IV Qualifiers:
Qualifiers:Salesian, Fortuna, Healdsburg, Ferndale, St. Helena, Justin-Siena, Berean Christian, Valley Christian, Moreau Catholic, St. Mary’s, Willits, Arcata, Middletown, Clear Lake.
Bubble:Piedmont, Fort Bragg.
The Skinny:There are 14 teams that have qualified and each of those teams will make it. Piedmont can qualify if it beats Kennedy-Richmond this week. Fort Bragg could qualify with a win over Cloverdale. So pretty simple. We’ve got a max of 16 teams to qualify so whoever qualifies will get in. Salesian, the obvious No. 1 seed, could get a first-round bye if either Piedmont or Fort Bragg lose this week.
Division V Qualifiers:
Qualifiers:Hoopa Valley, St. Bernard’s, Upper Lake, Tomales, California School for the Deaf, Emery.
The Skinny:Six teams are qualified for the eight-team bracket. St. Vincent can be the seventh if it beats Tomales, not an easy task. And the last name on that list of qualifiers is not a misprint. Emery, with a 1-8 record that will likely fall to 1-9, is playoff eligible. Never mind that the Spartans have been outscored by an average margin of 45.3 points or the fact that their win against St. Elizabeth was their first varsity win since 2002. If Emery applies, it’s headed to the playoffs. That’s because Emery has played just two games against Div. V opponents this year. It lost to CSD and beat St. Elizabeth, so it’s 1-1 in the division and that makes it eligible.
Oakland Section Qualified:
Qualified:McClymonds, Fremont, Skyline, Oakland Tech
The Skinny:The four berths are decided. McClymonds is the No. 1 seed. Fremont, with wins over both Skyline and Tech, is the No. 2 seed. Skyline and Tech are both 2-2 in the OAL and Castlemont sits behind at 1-3 (and plays Fremont this week). Even if there was a three-way tie at 2-3, Skyline and Tech would be in. In that scenario, Skyline is 2-0 against the other two teams it would be tied with. That puts the Titans in. Then Oakland Tech has the head-to-head win over Castlemont. That puts the Bulldogs in. The only thing in question this week is who gets the No. 3 seed. Skyline has the edge in most scenarios to get the No. 3 seed since it has the head to head win. The only way Tech can get the No. 3 is if Tech beats first-place McClymonds and Skyline loses to winless Oakland on Saturday.