League championships are the priority in this final week of regular-season football in the Central Section as only South Sequoia’s Bakersfield Christian and Southeast Yosemite’s South have secured outright titles among the 16 conferences.
But, jumping ahead a bit, several teams have legitimate thoughts of CIF State Bowl Championships.
The section’s six division titlists will advance to bowls, as they did last year when the state expanded its postseason significantly to 13 championships.
From the Central Section, Hanford (Division 4-AA) and Chowchilla (Division 4-A) delivered state titles, Immanuel (Division 5-AA) placed second and Ridgeview (Division 1-A), Liberty-Bakersfield (Division 2-AA) and Kennedy (Division 5-A) lost in first-round regionals.
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State bowl divisions are often different than what teams play in their section playoffs. Hanford, for example, is the section’s two-time reigning champion in D-III.
The CIF has revised its bowl structure.
There is no stipulation that the Central Section’s D-I, III and V champions will be in North regionals, which was a first-time case last year for a section that had played exclusively in the South since the bowls were launched in 2006.
However, the CIF will ship a combination of three teams from the Central and Southern Sections to the North this season for geographic reasons.
Here are the Cal-Hi Sports projections for the Central Section for the Dec. 9-10 regional bowls:
▪ Central vs. Serra-San Mateo in North Division 2-AA: The section’s top-ranked Grizzlies (8-1, 4-0) will be heavily favored to win the Tri-River Athletic Conference title outright against Clovis East (0-9, 0-4) Thursday night at Lamonica Stadium.
▪ Sanger vs. Manteca in North Division 3-A: The 9-0 Apaches, who have risen to No. 4 in The Bee’s overall section rankings while remaining No. 1 in D-II, will attempt to win the County/Metro Athletic Conference title outright while also securing 27-year coach Chuck Shidan’s 200th career victory Friday night at Memorial (5-4, 2-2).
▪ Selma vs. Amador-Sutter Creek in North Division 5-A: The Bears, up a notch to No. 15 in the overall rankings while remaining a firm No. 1 in D-IV, will go for an outright Central Sequoia League crown Friday against Kingsburg (7-2, 3-1).
▪ Bakersfield Christian vs. Leuzinger-Lawndale in South Division 4-AA: The Eagles (8-1, 5-0) are home free in the SSL.
▪ Mendota vs. Nogales-La Puente in South Division 6-AA: The Aztecs (9-0, 4-0) should ease to the West Sierra League outright title against Tranquillity (3-6, 1-3) Friday night.
▪ Strathmore vs. Crawford-San Diego in South Division 6-A: The Spartans (9-0, 4-0) play Lindsay (6-3, 3-1) for the East Sequoia League crown on Friday night.
Central Section Football Rankings
- 1. Central (TRAC, 8-1)
- 2. Liberty-Bakersfield (SWYL, 7-2)
- 3. Bakersfield (SWYL, 7-2)
- 4. Sanger (CMAC, 9-0)
- 5. Clovis West (TRAC, 6-3)
- 6. Buchanan (TRAC, 6-3)
- 7. Clovis (TRAC, 7-2)
- 8. Bullard (CMAC, 5-4)
- 9. Garces (SWYL, 6-3)
- 10. Clovis North (TRAC, 4-5)
- 11. Edison (CMAC, 3-6)
- 12. Sunnyside (NYL, 7-2)
- 13. Centennial (SWYL, 2-7)
- 14. Stockdale (SWYL, 5-4)
- 15. Selma (CSL, 9-0)
- 16. Redwood (WYL, 8-1)
- 17. Golden West (WYL, 8-1)
- 18. Hanford (WYL, 5-4)
- 19. Tulare (EYL, 8-1)
- 20. Independence (SYL, 5-4)
- Division I: 1. Central, 2. Liberty-Bakersfield, 3. Bakersfield
- Division II: 1. Sanger, 2. Garces, 3. Sunnyside
- Division III: 1. Hanford, 2. Bakersfield Christian (8-1), 3. South (8-2)
- Division IV: 1. Selma, 2. Golden West, 3. Liberty-Madera Ranchos (6-3)
- Division V: 1. Mendota (9-0), 2. Dos Palos (5-4), 3. Firebaugh (7-2)
- Division VI: 1. Strathmore (9-0), 2. Kennedy (6-3), 3. Orosi (5-4)