DEMAIN EVENT: Sutter's season should continue
Escalon could block Sutter's regional bowl bid
After fending off West Valley in one of the most thrilling playoff games this area has seen in recent memory, the Sutter High football team has put itself in a position that can no longer be ignored.
The 38-31 double-overtime victory in the Northern Section Division II championship game on Saturday was another notch in the belt of a storied program.
Well, the Huskies may need to strap on a new belt, because now they're eligible for a Regional Bowl game.
Not only was it Sutter's fifth section title since 2001, but it was the program's ninth appearance in 13 years. And these Huskies are the only team to finish a season 13-0.
Moreover, the torch has officially been carried on from former coach Scott Turner (who won five titles) by coach Ryan Reynolds.
The "Decade of Dominance" slogan the Huskies coined after the turn of the century? It may simply need to change to "Dominance."
That dominance, which has quietly gone unnoticed by the rest of the state over the past dozen years or so, is finally garnering the interest of the CIF — to represent Northern California in an annual State Bowl Championship game.
In past years, a committee put together by the CIF made the matchups for these games — one team from the south and one team from the north in each division.
However, this format seems to change every year.
When the bowl games began in 2006, there were just three divisions; now there are five (Open, D-I, D-II, D-III and D-IV). Due to Sutter's enrollment size, the Huskies fall under D-III.
The wrench in this year's CIF format, however, is that there will be a regional game, or play-in game, to decide which team will represent the north and south — and the committee chooses these two teams for each division.
The chips couldn't have fallen any better for Sutter.
Without a play-in game this year, Sutter would likely be overlooked for the Sac-Joaquin Section champion or North Coast Section champion to represent NorCal, but now Sutter is just one of two teams which remain undefeated, and could be the only team if Marin Catholic beats El Cerrito in the North Coast Section championship game next weekend.
Regardless of who wins that game, either team will be selected to play in the regional game. The other team should be Sutter.
But, of course, nothing is certain.
The only possible outcome that could block Sutter's entrance into the regional game is if Escalon beats Central Catholic in the Sac-Joaquin Section championship game and the committee selects would-be 12-2 Escalon over the 13-0 Huskies due to Escalon's strength of schedule.
Escalon played in the state bowl game in 2010 and beat Madison 30-14, which certainly doesn't help the Huskies' cause. What may also make those on the committee shy away from selecting Sutter is history.
The only team which has been selected from the Northern Section to play in a state bowl game was Hamilton in 2008 — the Braves lost 59-7 in the most lopsided affair in bowl history — not the type of showing the Northern Section was counting on.
The bottom line is that Sutter did everything it could. Coach Reynolds said it would be a "travesty" if his team wasn't selected — I couldn't agree more.