The final week of rankings before rankings become irrelevant is upon us. As I've done before, I'll continue to do this section top 25 after the playoff seedings are unveiled Saturday morning in Porterville, but you all will stop paying so much attention. If you're paying attention at all that is. Can anyone hear me??
All right, all right, there's a couple of you out there. Thanks for that. As a reward, here are Week 10 rankings:
1. Clovis (8-1, Division I, last week: 2) — Seemingly against all odds, the Cougars have made it to the top, after a lopsided loss to El Toro (which is an extremely good team) a season-ending injury to their starting quarterback and numerous close calls. Clovis just keeps finding a way to win, like it did in a wild win over Clovis North. Can the Cougars sustain that in the playoffs? Don't know, but they'll have the luxury of the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage when they try.
LAST WEEK: won vs. No. 1 Clovis North, 38-33. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 24 Clovis West
2. Clovis North (8-1, Division I, last week: 1) — A great chance at an undefeated regular season, a TRAC title and a No. 1 seed went up in smoke with the loss to Clovis, but the Broncos can look at it this way: The Cougars needed a couple of trick plays and an out-of-character offensive effort and still barely hung on against Clovis North. This could be an instance where a loss does a team some good.
LAST WEEK: lost at No. 2 Clovis, 38-33. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 22 Clovis-Buchanan
3. Frontier (6-3, Division I, last week: 3) — Huge win for the Titans without several suspended players against Stockdale, but they don't move up because of an earlier loss to Clovis North. Chances are high that Frontier will get another chance at the Broncos, though; if both win home quarterfinal games, that will be the matchup in the semifinal. Justin Cash has been a revelation over the past three weeks, and that makes Frontier better.
LAST WEEK: won vs. No. 7 Stockdale, 42-21. THIS WEEK: at No. 19 Independence
4. Bakersfield (7-2, Division I, last week: 4) — By definition, a sleeper is a lower-seeded team with a chance to win a title, but is anyone really sleeping on the Drillers? Probably not after they blitzed Centennial and showed that this train is back on the tracks. BHS will be hitting the road in the playoffs no matter what, but the Drillers have actually played much better away from Griffith Field this year.
LAST WEEK: won at No. 20 Centennial, 56-21. THIS WEEK: at No. 9 Stockdale
5. Garces (8-1, Division II, last week: 5) — Judgment week in the SEYL is finally here after weeks upon weeks of blowout wins for Garces and Tehachapi. Rams quarterback Cruise Adams has already set school records for passing yards and TDs; can he produce in the thin, cold mountain air? A positive answer means a No. 1 seed in Division II.
LAST WEEK: won at East, 55-0. THIS WEEK: at No. 15 Tehachapi
6. Fresno-Central (7-2, Division I, last week: 6) — Thinking back to the Grizzlies' 10-9 escape at Liberty back in Week 3: That win, aided by an extra point and a blocked field goal, likely has earned a home playoff game for Central. That's the good news. The bad news? Bakersfield could very well be the opponent.
LAST WEEK: won vs. No. 22 Clovis West, 40-0. THIS WEEK: at Clovis East (Thursday)
7. Ridgeview (7-2, Division III, last week: 8) — It's easy to say this Wolf Pack team isn't quite as good as last year's 12-1 version, but consider: Ridgeview's only losses are to Frontier, ranked No. 3 in the Valley, and to Newhall-Hart, ranked No. 3 in the Southern Section's Division III. The Pack won't see anyone in the D-III playoffs nearly as good as either of those teams.
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. Golden Valley
8. Wasco (9-0, Division IV, last week: 11) — A well-deserved bump for the section's only remaining unbeaten team. Wasco finally got pushed a little last week, and the Tigers responded by out-scoring a good Arvin team 28-7 in the second half and turning yet another game into a laugher. Big rivalry game this week, but thinking big picture, only two questions remain: Can Wasco get by Mission Oak in D-IV? And, if so, will the CIF bowl selection committee take notice?
LAST WEEK: won at Arvin, 56-28. THIS WEEK: vs. Shafter
9. Stockdale (5-4, Division I, last week: 7) — The wheels came off a bit for Stockdale in the second half, but this was improvement over the Mustangs' efforts against the elite teams they faced earlier, Clovis and Garces. If Stockdale holds onto the ball, it can beat anyone. Wonder if they'll get a chance to prove that this week. If not, it could be another long one.
LAST WEEK: lost at No. 3 Frontier, 42-21. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 4 Bakersfield
10. Liberty (5-4, Division I, last week: 10) — Beating Independence is no gimme, but it was a very necessary deed for the Patriots, who snapped a two-game losing streak after opening SWYL play with the big win over Bakersfield. Can Liberty get on another run heading into the postseason? It's certainly possible, and this is a team that has beaten likely No. 5 seed Bakersfield and played likely No. 4 seed Central evenly. Dangerous lower seed.
LAST WEEK: won vs. No. 19 Independence, 35-24. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 21 Centennial
11. Fresno-Edison (6-3, Division I, last week: 12) — This is what's going to make the Division I bracket so much fun. I just got done saying Liberty is going to be a dangerous lower seed, and here's Edison, with Khari McGee, possibly the most athletic quarterback in the section, taking snaps. And even with a CMAC-clinching win against Bullard, it's possible the Tigers get no higher than a No. 6 seed. That makes for another tough game for a higher seed.
LAST WEEK: won vs. Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial, 35-7 (Thursday). THIS WEEK: vs. No. 14 Fresno-Bullard
12. Visalia-El Diamante (6-3, Division II, last week: 9) — Bad loss of the week goes to the Miners, who couldn't get it going offensively on a Thursday night against Lemoore. Suddenly, the Division II playoff picture is jumbled: The Garces-Tehachapi winner will be No. 1, but El Diamante now has to fend off Sanger, Lemoore, the Garces-Tehachapi loser and Redwood to stay on the other half of the bracket from the top seed.
LAST WEEK: lost vs. No. 24 Lemoore, 43-14 (Thursday). THIS WEEK: at Visalia-Golden West
13. Visalia-Mt. Whitney (7-2, Division III, last week: 13) — This is what you do to bad teams when you need wins: The Pioneers have blitzed Hanford and Golden West by a combined 116-0 over the past two weeks. Don't mess around; get the victory, get your starters out and move on to next week. Big one now against Redwood. A win probably means a No. 2 seed in Division III, though Dinuba also has an argument.
LAST WEEK: won at Visalia-Golden West, 68-0. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 23 Visalia-Redwood
14. Fresno-Bullard (7-2, Division I, last week: 15) — The latest great coaching job done by Don Arax is evidenced by the Knights' five-game winning streak, all by double digits, after two iffy losses in three weeks to Buchanan and Clovis West. Problem is that Bullard hasn't played a Division I team in that stretch. If the Knights want to avoid the bottom rungs of D-I playoff seeding, they'll have to beat Edison and avoid what could be a three-way tie atop the CMAC.
LAST WEEK: won vs. Madera, 48-0 (Thursday). THIS WEEK: vs. No. 11 Fresno-Edison
15. Tehachapi (8-1, Division II, last week: 16) — Similar story here: The Warriors, and coach Steve Denman (and we know he's a treasure), have done a remarkable job reeling off victories after a humbling loss to Liberty in Week 2. But only two of those teams were above Division III: West and North, who are a combined 4-14. Facing Garces will be a different challenge altogether, though stranger things certainly have happened in Tehachapi at this time of year.
LAST WEEK: won at Foothill, 49-14. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 5 Garces
16. Dinuba (8-1, Division III, last week: 17)
17. Sanger (7-2, Division II, last week: 18)
18. Tulare-Mission Oak (7-2, Division IV, last week: 14)
19. Independence (5-4, Division III, last week: 19)
20. Lemoore (6-3, Division II, last week: 24)
21. Centennial (2-7, Division I, last week: 20)
22. Clovis-Buchanan (4-5, Division I, last week: 21)
23. Visalia-Redwood (7-2, Division II, last week: 23)
24. Clovis West (2-7, Division I, last week: 22)
25. Porterville (5-4, Division III, last week: 25)
Dropped out: none