A recent change in the last 3½ years is how the Sac-Joaquin Section determines its playoff participants for football. I must say it is probably – given this current sports climate loaded with analytics – the fairest system the Section fathers have come up with.

Let me try to explain it (and a big thanks to Section assistant commissioner Will DeBoard for the tutorial):

The Section has 80 teams slated for the post-season: 12 participants each in Divisions I through VI, and eight schools in division VII. The biggest schools by enrollment are in Division I, the next biggest in Division II, and so forth. League champions get an automatic berth in the post-season and there are 21 leagues. Should there be a tie for a league championship, all those schools qualify for the playoffs.

The top four seeds in each division (except D-VII) will earn a first-round bye on Nov. 5. Then the No. 5 seed will play No. 12, No. 6 plays No. 11, and so forth, in the first round. In the second round, scheduled for Nov. 12,

Then analytics kick in. The Section will draw upon the mathematical brain of Eric Maddy, a former sportswriter in southern California, who has a fairly Spartan website called CalPreps.com. Once you get a lay of the land in his site, Maddy has a brilliantly-devised power ratings system which grades each football team in California on its game results, of course, but adds in who you beat, who you lost to and the strength of schedule of all of those clubs.

What Maddy has is a rating for each football team. Just to give you a bit of reference the top-rated team in the Section is Rocklin, who surprised previously top-rated Folsom on Friday, 40-7. Rocklin’s rating is 64.8 and Folsom’s is 57.1.

To compare, here are the ratings of all our local teams, who are both in the negative:

Liberty Ranch High School -.05

Galt High School -22.7

Playoff chances for Galt High look grim however, Liberty Ranch is ranked ninth-best team in Division V. To solidify their spot at playoffs, Liberty Ranch will need to win their last two games. Last week’s win over Union Mine helped the team to further their playoff cause.

One more ripple to add to all of this – and Bradshaw Christian is a good example – if you win your league, you must play in the division where your league is designated. In the Pride’s example, they are actually the No. 2-rated team in Division VI, but the Sierra Valley Conference is Division V. Should Bradshaw Christian win the SVC, they’ll slide up to Division V.