The Central Section ‘S’ teams received ‘A’ grades Sunday, and that means home-field berths in next weekend’s CIF Regional Football Championship Bowl Games.
They are Sanger, Selma and Strathmore, each of whom are 13-0 after winning section titles Friday.
“Always fun to play at Tom Flores Stadium,” Sanger coach Chuck Shidan said two days after a crowd unlike anything he’s seen in a 27-year, 203-win career was treated to an Apaches 20-10 win over Ridgeview for the section Division II title.
Sanger will return there Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to play Serra-San Mateo (9-4), a Central Coast Open Division 2 champion, in North Division 2-A.
“A tough draw,” Shidan said while already immersed in film review of the Padres, whose losses are to state-class competition in De La Salle-Concord, St. Mary’s-Stockton, Pittsburg and Valley Christian-San Jose. “They are potent on both sides of the ball with a lot of players being recruited, so it’s going to be something else. They are really good, but I guess all the (Regional) teams are good right now. It’s where you want to be, and we’re playing well. It’s everything you could ask for.”
The Central Section’s remaining champions – Bakersfield (11-2), Bakersfield Christian (12-1) and Mendota (13-0) – will play on the road.
The 24 Regional matchups in the North and the South, in addition to the Dec. 17 Open Division championship with De La Salle (11-1) and St. John Bosco-Bellflower (12-2), were announced by the California Interscholastic Federation, which administers high school sports in the state.
The teams were ranked, then slotted based primarily on competitive equity. Central Section representatives were split among the North and South regions for geography and state-balance reasons.
Regional winners will advance to state finals Dec. 16-17.
To be eligible for a bowl, teams must have won section championships, except those sections with Open Division finals.
Sanger, Selma, Strathmore and Mendota will be making their first state postseason appearances since the bowls were launched in 2006 and expanded considerably since.
Selma, which routed Chowchilla 39-7 for the section D-IV crown, will play Bakersfield Christian on Friday in a rare bowl intrasection duel, but one deemed justified for travel convenience, in South Division 4-AA. The Eagles beat Tulare Western 53-19 in the section D-III final.
Selma coach Matt Logue expects Staley Stadium to be rocking – again: “Playing against a team not too far away, it should be another big crowd and a great game.”
He didn’t expect to play an opponent from within the section, much less one that won a section title a division above the Bears.
“Honestly, I had no idea how this regional and state bowl stuff works,” he said. “I guess it comes down to where they think you should fall. I have no clue.”
Comparative scores appear to favor Selma.
The Bears defeated Central Valley Christian 28-17, Wasco 55-0 and Chavez 35-3; the Eagles defeated CVC 51-24, Wasco 20-16 and Chavez 27-21 in overtime.
“That’s something you always look at,” Logue said, “but you can’t put too much into it because it’s all about matchups, and I definitely think it’s a really good matchup. They have a lot of athletes and throw the ball really well. But we’ve played pretty well on defense. I think it will be an entertaining game to watch.”
Strathmore, a section D-VI 46-20 winner over Sierra-Pacific, will oppose San Diego Section D-V champion Horizon Christian Academy (7-6) Saturday in South Division 6-A. The Panthers have by far the worst record of the 50 bowl participants, but crushed Tri-City Christian-Vista 40-18 in their section final.
Bakersfield, coming off a 21-14 win over top-seeded Central in the Central Section D-I championship, will play at Sac-Joaquin Section D-II winner Del Oro-Loomis (12-2) Saturday in North Division 1-A. It’s a rematch of the 2013 state D-I final won 56-26 by Bakersfield.
Mendota, which blasted Firebaugh 50-22 for the section D-V crown, will play Sac-Joaquin Section D-VI champion Amador-Sutter Creek (13-1) at Calaveras High on Friday in North Division 6-AA.
The Central Section delivered a 2015 state champion in Hanford (Division 4-AA) and runners-up in Chowchilla (Division 4-A) and Immanuel (Division 5-AA).
Staying home for a bowl game
All games at 7:30 p.m. Friday (complete schedule on 2C)
▪ North Division 2-A: Serra (9-4) at Sanger (13-0)
▪ South Division 4-AA: Bakersfield Christian (12-1) at Selma (13-0)
▪ South Division 6-A: Horizon Christian Academy (7-6) at Strathmore (13-0)