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PREP EXTRA / SATURDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT : Critical Loss, Coin Flip Leave Sonora's Playoff Fate in Limbo


For the the second consecutive year, all the Sonora Raiders had to do was win their final game to control their playoff destiny. And for the second year in a row, their fate is in the hands of others.

By losing to Sunny Hills, 17-7, on Thursday, the Raiders kicked away their chance to win the Freeway League title outright. Instead they are in a four-way tie with Sunny Hills, Fullerton and Buena Park.

After the games Thursday, the principals of all four schools gathered for a coin flip to determine the odd team out from the three automatic Southern Section playoffs. Sonora lost. Sunny Hills will be seeded first, followed by Fullerton and Buena Park.

The Raiders, 5-5 overall and 3-2 in league, now must wait until Sunday to see if they are awarded an at-large berth.

"We will turn in wild-card papers Saturday to CIF," Sonora Coach Mark Takkinen said. "Do we have good case? I don't know; there will probably be one team at 6-4 and another at 5-5. But we'll present that we are co-champs and our fate was not decided on the field but by coin flip."

The loss to Sunny Hills, however, was still on Takkinen's mind Friday. "I'm not yet over the game. It's the first time we've gotten a piece of the league title in last 21 years, and we still might not go to playoffs. But by losing our last two games, we cut our own throats."

Fullerton Coach Julian Smilowitz was on the other end of spectrum, savoring his team's first playoff bid since 1987.

"I'm just glad to be there. It's been a dry spell; now it's the kids' turn to make things happen.

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