Variety is the spice of life, right?
Well, not this year in the Central Section football playoffs that were announced on Saturday afternoon.
But that’s the world we live in until the 13 schools from the Central Coast region move into the section next season, bolstering divisions that sadly, just aren’t big enough to make this all that competitive.
In the Division I bracket, Liberty and Bakersfield duked it out Friday night. Now, with Liberty the No. 4 seed and BHS at No. 5, it’s going to be the same thing come the quarterfinals on Nov. 17.
Could this have been avoided? Yes.
Liberty has a win over No. 2 Clovis West, but also has losses to No. 1 Fresno-Central, No. 3 Clovis-Buchanan and No. 10 Ridgeview. But one advantage the Patriots had is an undefeated record in league play.
The section playoffs begin on Thursday because most school districts in the region do not have school on Veterans Day, which is observed on Friday. But the one thing the Patriots had that neither Clovis West, Buchanan nor anyone else in D-I — other than the Grizzlies — had is an undefeated record in league play.
The Patriots edged BHS 27-24 on Friday to clinch a third outright Southwest Yosemite League title in the last four years. The lone knock on the Patriots, and likely the determining factor for the No. 4 seed — rather than a No. 2 or No. 3 — is the Patriots played three D-II teams in league and a D-I Centennial team that did not make the playoffs.
The Division II playoff brackets are a mirror image of D-I.
No. 5 Frontier is at No. 4 Garces, a rematch of an SWYL game from two weeks ago where the Rams were victorious in a 17-7 road win over the Titans.
Again, unfortunate to have to play league opponents in the opening round (D-II and D-VI will begin the playoff with the quarterfinals on Thursday with just eight teams in each division with the championships being played on Nov. 24).
Tulare Union in D-II, like Central in D-I, was a lock for the No. 1 seed and neither Garces nor Frontier had the body of work to be seeded higher than No. 2 Dinuba or No. 3 Visalia-El Diamante.
So, one of those Kern County teams will likely play at undefeated Tulare Union in the semifinals on Nov. 17.
Bakersfield Christian, the lone team from the county to play for a state championship last season, is the No. 3 seed in D-III.
The Eagles, with eight consecutive impressive wins, are seeded behind No. 1 Tulare Western, which was undefeated before losing 62-41 to Tulare Union, and No. 2 Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial, which earned big points with a 35-14 win over D-I Sanger on Friday.
North is the highest seeded local team in D-IV at No. 6. The Stars, which secured a three-way share of the Southeast Yosemite League title on Friday with a 21-14 win over previously-undefeated Highland, likely moved up a few spots with the win.
The Stars will host No. 11 East in the first round, a matchup of a future league league game as the Blades will move into the SEYL next year.
In fact, there are four games being played on Thursday featuring two Kern County teams. No. 12 South is at No. 5 Tehachapi and No. 10 West is at No. 7 Highland in D-III.
The only bonus is the teams save money on travel costs.
Shafter secured a No. 2 seed in D-V. The Generals beat rival Wasco 47-7 on Friday and are behind No. 1 Caruthers. Rosamond was seeded No. 2 in D-VI.
So until the section gets a boost from teams like Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Paso Robles and company next season, having two eight-team divisions and too many local showdowns early on in the playoffs is a reality.
With that, get ready for some Thursday night football. Let’s hope it’s better than that ugly color-rush the professionals put on.