There are three Santa Maria Valley teams still going in the playoffs. Let me break down each matchup here.
No. 11 Bakersfield Frontier at No. 3 Righetti (CIF Central Section, Division II, quarterfinal)
Most in the Santa Maria Valley are certainly focused on one game tonight: Righetti's CIF Central Section Division II quarterfinal contest against Bakersfield Frontier.
Righetti had a first-round bye last week after finishing the regular season 8-2 overall to earn the third seed in the division.
I thought the Warriors would be hosting Nipomo tonight. But 11th-seeded Frontier defeated No. 6 Nipomo last week on a last-second touchdown pass.
So now the Warriors get a 3-8 team instead of the Ocean League champions.
Another interesting result happened Thursday night with Stockdale, the No. 7 seed, upsetting No. 2 seed Tulare Western. Now, if Righetti wins, they'll play the 7 seed at home next week in the semifinals.
Now that would be fun.
But first they've got to get past a Frontier team that stunned Nipomo last week.
Frontier threw it a ton last week. In fact, QB Israel Chaverria threw it 53 times against Nipomo, completing 35 of those for 376 yards and four touchdowns.
Senior Kolton Baker caught 19 passes for 252 yards and three of those touchdowns. Let's see what the Warriors cook up to slow down Baker tonight.
Frontier also pressured Nipomo last week, coming up with three QB sacks. But Nipomo did rack up rushing yards, 176 in fact, so I'm guessing the Warriors should easily top 200 yards rushing tonight.
I think Frontier's run will end in the quarterfinals and the Warriors will host a semifinal showdown next week.
I think Baker will get double-digit catches, but Righetti's defense will bend but not break, and the Warrior offense will near 300 rushing yards in a convincing win.
My prediction: Righetti 45, Frontier 23
No. 3 Orcutt Academy at No. 2 Fresno Christian
(CIF Central Section, 8-man semifinal)
Coach Ben Alberry says his team is on a 'Redemption Tour' which starts tonight against Fresno Christian, which beat OAHS 45-27 in October. That game was notable because a few top Orcutt players were out for various reasons. Now, not all of those players will play tonight in Fresno, but the Spartans should have better odds tonight than last time.
A win for Orcutt and a win for the top seed in the bracket would be awesome, with the Spartans facing Mission Prep, from SLO. The Royals are unbeaten on the year and beat Orcutt 42-28 in the regular season finale. The Royals also hold a 45-6 win over Fresno Christian.
I think the Spartans will make this game much more competitive than the last time they played Fresno Christian. I just don't know if they have enough. Max Daniels and Alex Sutton are going to have to take their games to another level. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens, but my money is still on Fresno Christian, in a tight one.
My prediction: Fresno Christian 56, Orcutt Academy 48
No. 6 La Verne Calvary Baptist at No. 3 VCA
(CIF-SS, Div. 2 8-man, quarterfinal)
VCA should win this game, but I think will have a tough time advancing to the final.
Division 2 in the CIF Southern Section is stacked!
VCA already beat Calvary Baptist 44-14 during the regular season. I'm going with the Lions in this one.
My prediction: VCA 49, Calvary Baptist 20.
I'll take a moment to break down the three big SLO County games for tonight.
No. 7 Arroyo Grande at No. 2 Buchanan
(CIF-CS, Division I, quarterfinal)
Arroyo Grande is at No. 2 seed Buchanan in the CIF-CS Division I quarterfinals. I don't think the Eagles have enough to beat the Bears and star running back Kendall Milton. But I wouldn't be surprised if they keep it pretty competitive. The AG defense has had some ups and downs and the offense has been a bit of a rollercoaster.
But if QB Kadin Byrne can make enough plays with his feet and James Gilmet has one of his trademark 150-yard rushing games, don't be shocked if the Eagles have a chance at the end.
My prediction: Buchanan 42, Arroyo Grande 24
No. 8 SLO at No. 1 Fresno Memorial
(CIF-CS, Division III, quarterfinal)
The Tigers have had a fun season and are making a quarterfinal berth. There is just no way they can keep up with Memorial, which really is a Division I team (Division II at worst), but are all the way back in DIII.
Memorial should cruise to the Central Section title and I don't see them tripping up over the Tigers.
But, with that said, SLO's offense is fun and high-flying and they have some athleticism. They will not get shutout.
Emilio Corona should rack up some yards and points. Jeremiah Fitzsimmons is tough to stop. Still, Memorial just has way too much. (Go look up QB Alec Trujillo and Jalen McMillan).
They'd probably make the DI semifinals and maybe even the final.
My prediction: Memorial 45, SLO 16
No. 4 Riverdale Christian at No. 1 Mission Prep
(CIF-CS 8-man quarterfinal)
The Royals have been unstoppable this year, playing a mix of 8- and 11-man football games.
They beat Riverdale Christian 63-0 a few weeks ago. Expect a similar result in the quarterfinals.