Ex­pect Merced to push the pace in play­off against River Val­ley

Merced Sun-Star - - Sports - BY SHAWN JANSEN sjansen@mer­ced­sun­star.com Shawn Jansen: 209-385-2462, @MSSs­ports

With the Merced High foot­ball team on a bye last week, Bears coach Rob Scheidt had the op­por­tu­nity to scout the Bears’ next op­po­nent. Scheidt made the trip to Sacra­mento to watch No. 11 River Val­ley (6-5) de­feat No. 6 40-14 at Sacra­mento City Col­lege’s Hughes’ Sta­dium.

It’s an ad­van­tage to see a team in per­son and not just on video.

“They’re big and phys­i­cal,” Scheidt said.

Merced (10-0) is the No. 3 seed and will host the Fal­cons in the sec­ond round of the Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion Divi­sion III play­offs at Vet­er­ans Sta­dium on Fri­day night.

Kick­off is sched­uled for 7 p.m.

Ex­pect to see Merced push the pace as Scheidt tries to use all the Bears’ weapons who have helped the of­fense av­er­age more than 50 points per game.

The Bears are at their best when they play fast with their dash and pass of­fense, spear­headed by quar­ter­backs Dhameer War­ren and Ju­nior Gar­cia.

Merced wants to tire out a River Val­ley team.

“They have seven or eight play­ers go­ing both ways in key po­si­tions,” Scheidt said. “That plays into our style of play. For us, it’s go­ing to be key to get them off the field. We want to get as many three-and-outs as we can. At the same time, we can’t panic if we give up a first down.”

On the other side­line, River Val­ley brings a wing-T of­fense that will try to grind it out with a big of­fen­sive line and three run­ning backs. Evan Strick­land leads the Fal­cons of­fense with 812 rush­ing yards and six touch­downs.

Hil­mar is the only other Merced-area team play­ing at home Fri­day night. Like Merced, the Yel­low­jack­ets (8-2) had a bye last week as the No. 2 seed in Divi­sion VI. Hil­mar (8-2) will host No. 10 Amador (8-3).

The Yel­low­jack­ets are look­ing to catch fire in the play­offs like they did last year, which ended with a sec­tion cham­pi­onship. Hil­mar fin­ished this year with two straight wins in which it outscored its two op­po­nents 98-13.

The other five area teams hit the road this week and all five teams will face the No. 1 seed in their divi­sion.

Buhach Colony (9-2) will face top-seeded Cap­i­tal Chris­tian (10-0). The No. 8 Thun­der de­feated No. 9 Pon­derosa 28-19 last week.

The Cougars are led by se­nior D’Mar­cus Ross, who has rushed for 1,650 yards and 17 touch­downs. Ross has re­ceived more than a dozen schol­ar­ship of­fers from Divi­sion I schools.

“He’s the real deal,” said Thun­der coach Kevin Navarra. “The dif­fer­ence with him is his size. He’s listed at (5-foot-11) and 210 pounds. He may be a bet­ter at linebacker for them.”

In Divi­sion IV, No. 8 Pacheco (9-2) will travel to No. 1 Rio Linda (8-2). The Knights fea­ture prob­a­bly the best player in the Divi­sion IV bracket in run­ning back Cameron Skat­tebo, who has rushed for 2,152 yards and 25 touch­downs this sea­son.

Across town, Los Banos (8-3) will also make a long trip to face No. 1 Col­fax in the Divi­sion V play­offs. The Fal­cons went a per­fect 10-0 in the reg­u­lar sea­son and were led by quar­ter­back Alex Weir, who threw for 1,810 yards and 27 touch­downs with just two in­ter­cep­tions.

Gus­tine (6-5) is the No. 4 seed in Divi­sion VII and will face South­ern League foe De­nair (9-1) in the semi­fi­nals. The Coy­otes are the top seed and com­ing off a bye. De­nair de­feated Gus­tine 49-14 ear­lier this sea­son.

In the Cen­tral Sec­tion, No. 9 seed Dos Pa­los (6-5) will face No. 1 Shafter (10-0) in the Divi­sion V quar­ter­fi­nals. The Bron­cos went on the road and de­feated No. 8 Bishop Union 41-8 last week.

ERIC FOSS

Merced quar­ter­back Ju­nior Gar­cia passed dur­ing a 41-7 win over Golden Val­ley in the 25th an­nual Bat­tle for the Mayor’s Cup on Oct. 26. The third-seeded Bears host No. 11 River Val­ley in the Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion Divi­sion III play­offs Fri­day night.

AN­DREW KUHN akuhn@mer­ced­sun-star.com

Buhach Colony’s Jon But­trey car­ries the ball Aug. 17 against Gre­gori at At­wa­ter High School. The Thun­der beat the Jaguars 13-6. Buhach Colony (9-2) will face top-seeded Cap­i­tal Chris­tian (10-0) on Fri­day.

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