Isaiah Bickham

Sheldon's Isaiah Bickham hopes to cross the goalline many times tonight when the No.8 seeded Huskies take on the Sac-Joaquin Section top-seed Rocklin in round two of the football playoffs.

One of the benefits of the current football playoff format in the Sac-Joaquin Section is that the top four seeds earn a first-round bye. Some coaches, though, may not like the week off because of a thing called momentum. A week away from success on the field may get lost in that bye week. 

Tonight, Bradshaw Christian gets to see which way that works for them. The Pride hosts No. 8 seed Linden. This is a club Bradshaw defeated earlier this season, 30-17. Linden went on to a 7-4 record while the Pride concluded 9-1 and a tie with Union Mine for the Sierra Valley Conference championship.

These teams have never met in the playoffs. Linden is in the second round for the first time since advancing all the way to the Section D4 championship game in 2004. The Lions’ only playoff appearances between 2004 and now were 2011 and 2019.

Bradshaw Christian is in the second round for the second straight season. The Pride last made it to the semifinals in 2019 in the D5 playoffs and in the 2017 D6 tournament. They’ve won five Section titles, the last one coming in 2015 (D6). prediction: Bradshaw 38, Linden 19

Let's look at the other match-ups tonight:


* No. 8 Sheldon (8-3) at No. 1 Rocklin (10-0):These teams have never met in the playoffs. Sheldon is in the second round for the fourth time in the last five seasons; it missed the playoffs entirely in 2019. The Huskies are looking for a win to even their overall playoff record at 7-7. Rocklin is in the playoffs for the 10th time in school history and second straight season. The Thunder is looking for its first playoff win since 2017. It has one championship, the 2009 D2 title. prediction: Rocklin 42, Sheldon 7

Division II

* No. 6 Elk Grove (7-3) at No. 3 Vacaville (8-2): These teams have met five times in the SJS playoffs, with Elk Grove enjoying a 4-1 edge. This is the third straight season they’ll meet in the second round, with Elk Grove winning the last two; last year, The Thundering Herd won 52-29 on their way to the Section title. Elk Grove is in the second round for the ninth time in the last 10 years. Every time during that span except for 2018, the Thundering Herd has won this round and advanced to the semifinals. Vacaville is in the second round for the fourth time in the last five seasons. The Bulldogs are looking for their first semifinal appearance since 2014. prediction: Vacaville 28, Elk Grove 26

* No. 7 Monterey Trail (6-5) at No. 2 Granite Bay (8-2): These teams have met once before in the playoffs; it was a 22-17 Monterey Trail win in the 2010 D2 semifinals. Monterey Trail is in the second round for the second straight season and has made the Section championship game in each of those seasons. Granite Bay returns to the second round for the second straight season. The Grizzlies are looking to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2017, when they won the D2 championship.

What make this game interesting in that Mustangs' head coach TJ Ewing and Grizzlies' head coach Joe Cattolico know each other from their younger days in the Bay Area and have coached against each other while Cattolico was at both Pleasant Grove and at Sheldon. 

The Mustangs are on a six-game win streak and have its veer offense rolling, but a stifling defense has stepped up in recent game forcing turnovers. The question tonight is whether Cattolico's guys can stop the Mustang offense which has stung opponents with surprise pass plays that generally go for long gains. prediction: Granite Bay 40, Monterey Trail 20 

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John Hull came out of retirement in 2021 to return as the Citizen's Sports Editor. He started writing sports for the Citizen in Dec., 2007. Hull retired from teaching Mass Media/Journalism at Cosumnes River College and Luther Burbank H.S. in 2019.