The final Friday night of high school football regular season action is hours away, and there will be rivalries on the line, emotional final home games for seniors, and memories made for a lifetime.
Then, there is also the issue of playoffs.
The CIF Central Section moved to a new style of playoffs for all bracketed sports including football. A large portion of the playoff divisions and seedings will be determined by computer rankings from calpreps.com that evaluate a team’s performance during the season, who they played against, and how much they won — or lost — by.
The key word here is, a large portion. Because there is still a portion of the rankings done manually. That is where to start with the Three Things To Know Before You Go:
- Head-to-head and common opponents
If two teams are within two points of each other in the ratings, as is the case at multiple spots throughout the Central Section rankings found on calpreps.com, then the manual tiebreaker is head-to-head results. If the teams never played each other, then it goes to record against common opponents.
Central and San Joaquin Memorial are separated by 0.3 points for the No. 2 seed, but they never played each other, and both defeated their lone common opponent — Clovis North.
Clovis High is only 1.3 points ahead of Liberty of Bakersfield for the No. 4 seed, but again, no head-to-head and Liberty plays their only common opponent, Bakersfield High, tonight.
Toward the bottom portion of the Division-I bracket, things get really interesting. Clovis North (No. 6), Bullard (No. 7), and Garces (No. 8) are all tied at exactly 33 ratings points. Clovis North and Bullard never played and cancelled each other out in terms of common opponents — Bullard beat Clovis, who beat Clovis North, but Clovis North beat Clovis West, who beat Bullard. However, Clovis North’s superior strength of schedule gives it the edge in the rankings, and it’s hard to see Bullard overcome that.
Bullard’s loss to Clovis West might cost them in the end, because two teams they are within two points of — No. 7 Garces and No. 9 Hanford — defeated Clovis West. The Knights tried putting a game together to help improve their rating on their own, but they could not find a replacement after the Crosstown Classic against Edison High was cancelled.
If Garces (opponent: Stockdale) and Hanford (opponent: No. 13 Lemoore) win tonight, then there is a good chance that Bullard drops out of the 8-team Division-I bracket and becomes the No. 1 seed in Division-II based on the manual tiebreaker rules.
- Final score matters
Remember, when high school football final scores are rolling in, every score matters.
Part of how the calpreps.com rankings system works is through predictive scores. Calpreps.com will predict a score of a game and if the predicted margin of victory was met or exceeded, the winning team receives a boost in their rating. If the winning team wins by less than expected, then they might fall even in victory. That’s what happened to Central High School last week.
Calpreps.com predicted Central would defeat Clovis West, 42-14. Central won, 35-14, and fell from No. 2 to the No. 3 seed. The team that jumped the Grizzlies, San Joaquin Memorial, moved up without playing a game last week.
Central was only ranked No. 3 for six days. Central was predicted to defeat Clovis North last night, 35-19, and the margin of victory ended up as 35-14. By virtue of Central’s big win over Clovis North, the Grizzlies jumped this morning ahead of the Panthers and in the No. 2 seed. The margin is only 0.3 ratings points, so all eyes turn to San Joaquin Memorial’s season finale at Sanger. The Panthers are expected to win, 35-8.
Central High football fans may be cheering for an inspired effort from the Apaches to make it a close game and solidify Central’s hold of the No. 2 seed.
The predictive score might come into play in the close battle for the No. 4 seed between Clovis High and Liberty. Clovis High hosts Clovis West and is projected by calpreps.com to win, 38-17. Liberty is projected to defeat Bakersfield High, 35-14. Expect strong efforts by Clovis West and Bakersfield to hurt their archrivals’ playoff fortunes, a type of sabotage made sweeter during Rivalry Week.
- Buchanan has second TRAC title in sights
The Buchanan High Bears are safely the No. 1 seed in the Division-I bracket, leading No. 2 Central by 4.1 ratings points and owning the head-to-head tiebreaker against them. Their next goal before playoffs is a second consecutive outright TRAC title, which is attainable with a win over Clovis East tonight.
Amidst all the seeding and division drama taking place below them, Buchanan has consistently been No. 1 or No. 2 throughout the entire season. Even with the loss of star quarterback Jayden Mandal, the Bears showed depth in a 33-14 win over a tough Clovis North team last week. The Bears will turn to junior quarterback Colton O’Toole again for the final week of the regular season.
The extra bye week granted to the eight Division-I teams will give Buchanan a chance to rest after the 10-game grind — and offer Mandal more time for recovery and a potential playoff return.