Competitive balance was cited as one of the factors when schools from San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties voted two years ago to switch their athletic teams from the CIF-Southern Section to the Central Section. That will finally be put to the test as football playoffs get underway Friday night.
Three SLO County teams qualified for the postseason under the new, reshuffled system that saw the creation of the Ocean and Mountain leagues. Nipomo (8-2 overall) secured the inaugural Ocean League title with a 5-0 league record, while SLO High (7-3, 3-2) earned its first trip to the postseason since 2012 with a third-place finish in the Ocean.
The third local playoff team, Arroyo Grande (7-3, 2-2), finished third in the Mountain League.
Here’s a look at the games happening this Friday (all games start at 7 p.m.)
Sanger at Arroyo Grande
Seventh-seeded Arroyo Grande will host Sanger (7-3) in a Division 1 game. The Eagles will have to find a way to slow the explosive offense of Sanger, which averaged 36 points in 10 games. If Arroyo Grande can stake an early lead, they can control the clock — and the game — with their strong rushing attack.
Frontier at Nipomo
Sixth-seeded Nipomo will play host to Frontier (2-8) of Bakersfield in the Division 2 playoffs. Frontier is on a five-game losing streak and finished winless (0-5) in the SWVL for the second time in the past three seasons.
South at SLO High
Eighth-seeded San Luis Obispo will play host to ninth-seeded South (6-4) of Bakersfield on Friday in the Division 3 bracket. South has some big wins this season with wins over Mira Monte (53-0), Golden Valley (40-6) and Delano (60-6).
Mountain League champion Righetti is the top-seeded team from the two local leagues at third in Division 2, earning a first-round bye. If Nipomo wins, it will face the Warriors in the second round. St. Joseph, Pioneer Valley and Santa Maria also each made the playoffs in Division 1, 2 and 3, respectively.