CIF-Central Section Playoff Preview

The Central Section has six divisions this year compared to five last season, which caused a number of teams to shift down a division. Only one school shifted up, Bakersfield-Garces from DIII to DII. The biggest move down was preseason state title game favorite Fresno-Edison moving down to DII from DI. previews the Central Section Playoff brackets and predicts the winners…

note: All teams are eligible for the playoffs in the Central Section regardless of record.

Division I

No. 1 Clovis-Buchanan (8-2) vs. No. 8 Clovis (2-8)
No. 4 Bakersfield-Stockdale (8-2) vs. No. 5 Clovis East (7-3)
No. 3 Fresno-Bullard (8-2) vs. No. 6 Bakersfield (7-3)
No. 2 Clovis West (7-3) vs. No. 7 Bakersfield-Liberty (7-3)

Storyline: No.1 seed Buchanan won a coin toss over Clovis West and Clovis East to break a three-way tie atop the Tri-River Athletic Conference. It gave the Bears the top seed and a first round game against the only team with a losing record in the DI playoff bracket. Buchanan beat Clovis West but lost to Clovis East in the regular season. West beat East in the regular season. And Clovis West will not have to leave home during the playoffs as they share Veterans Memorial Stadium with top seed Buchanan.
Outlook: No one has a better defense than Clovis West. Led by four-star Fresno State LB commit Travis Brown, the Eagles defense has kept them in every game save a 42-7 loss to Corona-Centennial, which exposed their only weakness – the secondary. Bullard's only loss in the section was to Clovis West. The Knights other loss came at SoCal power Orange Lutheran in the season opener. Buchanan owns a regular season win over Bakersfield. The Bears, however, are with out starting quarterback Lance Orender, who is out with a dislocated ankle. Defending section champion Bakersfield has been up and down all season. Clovis East is firing on all cylinders. The Timberwolves are a team no one wants to face, which is bad for Southwest Yosemite League champion Stockdale.
Matchups: Buchanan struggled against Clovis during the season, and without Orender, the Cougars might pull off the biggest upset in recent memory. Regardless, the Bears will have trouble getting past the semifinals. Clovis East does have to travel 100 miles south in the first round, but road games have never stopped Coach Tim Murphy's team in the past. Bakersfield is capable of beating Bullard, however, the winner will likely have to play at Clovis West. Bullard passed on Edison and could test the Eagle secondary in a possible second round matchup. Clovis West won at Liberty in the season opener for the second straight season. Finally, they will meet in Clovis.

GSP Championship Game Prediction: Clovis West over Clovis East

Division II

No. 1 Tulare (10-0) vs. No. 9 Fresno-Hoover/No. 8 Lemoore winner
No. 4 Bakersfield-North (8-2) vs. No.12 Fresno-Sunnyside/No. 5 Sanger winner
No. 3 Fresno-Edison (8-2) vs. No. 11 Fresno-Memorial/Visalia-Golden West winner
No. 2 Visalia-El Diamante (9-1) vs. No. 10 Bakersfield-Garces/No. 7 Bakersfield-West winner

Storyline: Edison would have played in last year's DII state title game if they had won the DI section, which they were favored to do. This season, the Tigers dropped down to DII but just as talented save the quarterback position. Nonetheless, a grade changing scandal involving a Tiger football player has hovered over the program the entire season. It has recently been resolved with no action taken against the player, yet Edison is still reeling. The Tigers are without the nation's No. 1 rated cornerback Cliff Harris (eligibility) and rising talent Tevin McDonald (injury). It is not known if either will be back by next week. The Tigers beat Compton-Dominguez and destroyed Merced, which is the Bears only loss of the season. But Edison ended the regular season with a loss to Bullard, and the Tigers enter the playoffs as a slight underdog.
Outlook: The top four seeds have a bye, and the top two teams are led by all-star running backs. Tulare's Jontell Reedom earned all-state honors last season and is averaging 178 yards rushing per game this year. El Diamante's Stefphon Jefferson is on pace to top 2,000 yards and has offers from Fresno State and Nevada. Tulare has not been tested this season. It is similar to last season when the Redskins ran through their schedule but were pummeled 63-14 by El Diamante in the title game. The Miners have lost only two games the last two years, at Clovis West last season and to Paso Robles this year. Edison by far has the most talent on both sides of the ball but under Head Coach Tim McDonald, the Tigers have folded in the playoffs. North is untested and will likely have to face No. 5 seed Sanger in the first round. The Apaches almost beat Edison in the regular season, and despite their five losses, they are scary matchup for anyone.
Matchups: This will not get interesting until the semifinals. Tulare could have its hands full against Sanger's wing-T offense, but Tulare's athletes are best the Apaches will see since Edison. The Edison-El Diamante matchup would easily be the biggest semifinal matchup in any division of the Central Section. The Tigers will have to stop Jefferson, and play disciplined football. Two things easier said than done.

GSP Championship Game Prediction: Tulare over El Diamante

Division III

No. 1 Hanford (9-1) vs. No. 9 Bakersfield-South/No. 8 Delano winner
No. 4 Bakersfield-Foothill (5-5) vs. No. 5 Bakersfield-Highland (6-4)
No. 3 Bakersfield-Golden Valley (6-4) vs. No. 11 Bakersfield-Ridgeview/No. 6 Tehachapi winner
No. 2 Oakhurst-Yosemite (7-3) vs. No. 10 Dinuba/No. 7 Porterville winner

Storyline: No DIII team won a league title, but six participants finished in second place.
Outlook: Hanford is loaded and probably could contend for a DII section title as its only loss this year was at El Diamante. Their only loss on the season was against El Diamante costing them the West Yosemite League title. Wide receiver Cougar Williams, who missed the second half of the El Diamante game with craps, leads the Bullpups' offense and their defense allows less than 10 points per game. As well Hanford defeated No. 2 seed Yosemite in the second game of the season. Golden Valley upset DI power Bakersfield last month. In a bracket dominated by Kern County schools, the GVHS is the only one with a legitimate shot to reach the title game.
Matchups: This is another bracket that will likely not get interesting until the semifinals. Hanford could draw Highland, who was at 6-1 at one point in the season. Yosemite has a great home field advantage tucked away in foothills outside Yosemite National Park. Every visiting team will have at least a two-hour drive.

GSP Championship Game Prediction: Hanford over Golden Valley

Division IV

No. 1 Visalia-Central Valley Christian (8-2) vs. No. 9 Selma/No. 8 Arvin winner
No. 4 Kingsburg (9-1) vs. No. 5 Taft (7-3)
No. 3 Exeter (9-1) vs. No. 6 Washington (6-4)
No. 2 Chowchilla (9-1) vs. No. 10 Roosevelt/No. 7 Kerman winner

Storyline: CVC upset previously unbeaten Exeter and record-breaking back Cameron Loeffler in the season finale denying the Monarchs a No. 1 seed. CVC also owns a regular season win over the No. 2 seed, which gave the 8-2 Cavaliers the No. 1 seed over a trio of one-loss teams.
Outlook: Top to bottom this is the toughest bracket as the top four teams all deserved the top seed. CVC, Kingsburg, and Exeter tied for the Central Sequoia League title. Chowchilla won the North Sequoia League including a win over DIII No. 2 seed Yosemite. Fifth seed Taft is the defending section champion. No. 6 Washington is loaded with young talent with good size and speed. No. 9 seed Selma would have been a contender but the Bears lost star running back Adrian Pacheco to a season ending injury.
Matchups: This has upsets written all over it. CVC might be the only school that you can pencil into the semifinals. A potential Cavalier rematch with Kingsburg in the semifinals favors the Vikings, if they can get by Taft. The Roosevelt-Kerman winner will be a tough matchup for Chowchilla. And Exeter gets no favors with a first round game against Washington. If the Monarchs cannot shake off the season-ending loss, the Panthers have enough athletes to win going away.

GSP Championship Game Prediction: Kingsburg over Exeter

Division V

No. 1 Corcoran (10-0) vs. No. 9 Madera-Liberty/No. 8 Caruthers winner
No. 4 San Luis Obispo-Mission Prep (8-1) vs. No. 5 Firebaugh (8-2)
No. 3 Fowler (9-1) vs. No. 6 Woodlake (6-4)
No. 2 Bakersfield Christian (9-1) vs. No. 10 Lindsay/No. 7 Parlier

Storyline: Corcoran is one of only two unbeaten teams in the Central Section. However, the Panthers played a very soft schedule. Bakersfield Christian dominated and won the South Sequoia League filled with higher division teams. Its only loss came against SoCal power Westlake Village-Oaks Christian in the season opener.
Outlook: This is a two-team playoff. Brant Botill leads Corcoran. Fresno State bound QB Derek Carr headlines BCHS. Fowler is without all everything Kenny Corona, which hurts its chances greatly. Mission Prep could not win a league filled with DVI teams.
Matchups: BCHS went into Fowler last year and upset the No. 1 seed Redcats for the DV section title. This year the roles would be reversed if they meet in the semifinals. But really, only one matchup is going to matter in this division and that is the final.

GSP Championship Game Prediction: Bakersfield Christian over Corcoran

Division VI

No. 1 Mendota (6-4) vs. No. 4 Tranquillity/No. 5 Strathmore winner
No. 2 Orange Cove (7-3) vs. No. 6 Farmersville/No. 3 Avenal winner

Storyline: This is the first year of this division. Only nine teams were classified in DVI this season.
Outlook: Mendota received the No. 1 seed after tying for the West Sierra League title, but lost 20-0 to the co-champ Firebaugh. Orange Cove won the East Sierra League title outright including a win over then unbeaten Mission Prep. Tranquillity (7-3) is the only other team with a record over .500 in the playoffs.

Matchups: For a No. 1 seed, Mendota draws a tougher opponent if the seeds play out right. Tranquillity would love a rematch against their conference foe. Orange Cove should not have a problem reaching the final.

GSP Championship Game Prediction: Orange Cove over Tranquillity

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