Ten long, hard-fought weeks of regular season play are over for the area’s prep football teams. Some lived up to expectations and others fell short of their goals, but each of the six teams in the Journal’s coverage area gave it their all.
Now, as the Sac-Joaquin Section prepares for its 42nd year of post-season play, three teams remain to fight another day and continue their chase for football glory — Pitman High (D1), Hilmar High (D4), and Delhi High (D5).
No. 9 Pitman (7-3) at No. 8 Franklin-EG (7-3)
After defeating rival Turlock High to end the regular season and finishing second in the Central California Conference, the Pride are set to make their fifth consecutive playoff appearance against Franklin High tonight. The Pride enter with an offense that has racked up 4,866 total yards — 2,894 of which came on the ground — but with senior rushers Drew Lewis and Mario Lewis dealing with a recent injuries, the weight will fall on seniors Logan Wolfley and Chance Hagar to pick up the slack.
Pitman is 4-7 all time in playoffs while its opponent is 3-6 all time.
No. 2 Hilmar (10-0) vs. No. 15 Liberty Ranch (6-4)
Undefeated Hilmar High enters this year’s playoff tournament with the aim to win its second section title in three years. Led by junior QB Jonathan O’Brien — who’s completed 100 of 154 passes for 1,661 yards and 22 TDs — the Yellowjackets will enjoy home field advantage throughout the tournament. Hilmar will have to continue its trend of dominance in all three phases of the game to take down Liberty Ranch who is in only its second post-season appearance.
Hilmar is 27-18 all time in playoffs with six titles to its name while its opponent is 2-1 all time.
No. 6 Delhi (5-5) at No. 3 Golden Sierra (5-5)
Normally, Delhi would not have made it into the post-season with only five overall wins, but with the bump of fellow Southern League team Ripon Christian High into the Division IV bracket, the Hawks just made the cut. In only their third post-season appearance in school history, and first since 2006, Delhi will be led by junior QB Garret Thomas and senior backs Joel Cantu, Ricco McCombs, and Reinaldo Medina.
Delhi will face a more experience Golden Sierra High team who is in its 11th post-season appearance and are 7-10 all time. These two teams met back in 2006 when the Grizzlies beat the Hawks 35-0 in the first round of the Division XI tournament.