As the high school football season swings into the home stretch, the Ventura County teams with the swiftest horses--Oxnard and Channel Islands--are in danger of being conspicuously absent when the win, place and show finishers are posted.
Despite boasting a wishbone offense that averages more than 300 yards rushing a game, Oxnard placed itself in jeopardy of missing the Southern Section Division II playoffs by being pummeled by Santa Barbara, 44-15, last week.
And despite boasting 2 backs with more than 900 yards rushing each, Channel Islands placed itself in jeopardy of missing the same postseason party by being upset by Royal, 13-12, last week.
A look at the playoff possibilities follows:
Channel League--The top 3 teams are assured playoff berths. Santa Barbara (9-0 overall, 6-0 in league play), ranked No. 1 in the division, has clinched the league title. The winner of the game between Oxnard (6-2-1, 4-1-1) and Buena (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday night at Ventura High will secure second place.
If Oxnard wins, Dos Pueblos (5-3-1, 3-2-1) becomes the third entry by defeating San Marcos tonight. If Oxnard loses and Dos Pueblos wins, the situation becomes complex--and intriguing.
Because Oxnard and Dos Pueblos tied one another and would have identical overall records, the playoff entry would be determined by a vote of the principals of league schools. Three schools--including Dos Pueblos--are in the Santa Barbara area and 5--including Oxnard--are in Ventura County. Might the vote go along similar lines?
"That's been the way it's gone in the past," Oxnard Coach Jack Davis said. "Maybe they'll compare scores and look at the difficulty of our schedules. I don't know."
Should Dos Pueblos lose to San Marcos, the loser of the Oxnard-Buena game would be the third-place representative.
Because the Channel had the second-best nonleague record of any league in the Southern Section, the fourth-place team has an excellent chance of landing the division's lone at-large berth. Principal competition will come from the Bay League, which has 5 teams with overall records above .500.
Marmonte League--Thousand Oaks (6-2-1, 5-0) has clinched a playoff berth and plays for the league title Saturday against Channel Islands (7-2, 4-1).
Channel Islands would enter postseason as the league's top representative with a win, but a defeat would cause a three-way tie for second if Camarillo (4-5, 3-2) and Royal (4-5, 3-2) each win. Camarillo plays Westlake (1-8, 1-4) at home tonight and Royal plays Newbury Park (2-6-1, 2-3) Friday at Simi Valley. A coin flip would determine the odd team out.
Newbury Park can tie Camarillo for third with a win over Royal and a Westlake win over Camarillo. But the Scorpions defeated the Panthers, 17-13, giving that tiebreaker to Camarillo. The fourth-place team has little chance of gaining the division's at-large berth.
Frontier League--The playoff representatives already have been decided. Santa Clara (9-0, 4-0) has clinched the top berth behind the unbeatable (thus far) combination of quarterback Tim Gutierrez and receiver Matt Young. Santa Paula (7-2, 3-1) plays host to Agoura (6-2-1, 3-1) tonight to determine the second- and third-place teams.
Santa Ynez, the fourth-place team, must upset Santa Clara on Saturday night for any hope of landing the at-large berth.
Tri-Valley League--Barring an upset tonight at the hands of St. Bonaventure, Carpinteria (7-2, 4-0) will win the title. Oak Park (8-1, 3-1), which plays host to Moorpark tonight, has clinched second.
Fillmore (5-4, 2-2), which visits Bishop Diego on Friday night, has a solid shot at earning one of the division's 2 at-large berths.