Rivalry Week and the end of the regular season are a week away, but each city team has something to prove before then.
The team with the most to win – and lose – Friday night is Vanden, which hosts Benicia in a huge Solano County Athletic Conference clash.
If the Vikings have their way, they’ll win tonight and next week and then have Benicia upset defending SCAC champion American Canyon to create a three-way tie for the 2013 title.
The Panthers, of course, have a huge say in the matter.
Then again, if the Vikings had their way, they wouldn’t have lost to Wood and Napa by a point and by eight points to AC.
The Panthers have had their number the past two years, winning a 54-44 shootout in 2011 and humbling them 20-6 last year, the Vikings’ lowest point total since 2007.
Comparative scores and stats for common foes are interesting and slightly favor the Vikings, but they’re meaningless.
While both lost to Wood by a point on back-to-back weeks, Benicia’s struggled the past two games in wins over Vallejo (21-7) and Bethel (21-19), opponents Vanden had no trouble with in defeating 51-10 and 41-20, respectively.
According to the Sac-Joaquin Section wins list, the Vikings have played a tougher schedule, with its opponents winning 33 games, compared to the Panthers’ 24.
That wins list will determine the playoff seedings and Benicia (7-1) is already at seven wins. The best Vanden (5-3) can hope for is to get to seven with wins the next two weeks.
Both teams have solid air attacks, but the game will be won on the ground – and by the defenses.
For the second straight week, Armijo travels to Napa’s Memorial Stadium, a place it’s lost 15 straight times. It faces a team, Napa, that it lost to 11 straight times and is in search of its first MEL victory since 2007.
Dodging no one, Armijo has played one of the toughest schedules in the SJS, the 43 wins by its opponents ranking behind only Franklin of Elk Grove’s and Livingston’s 48, Escalon’s 46 and Vallejo’s 44, tying Del Oro, Inderkum and Sheldon.
It doesn’t get any easier with Napa, but if Armijo can get its running game going, anything can happen.
Rodriguez hosts four-time MEL champ Vacaville, which needs a win have a shot at the outright title.
The Mustangs simply haven’t put it together offensively this season and will have to be in sync to keep up with one of the section’s top offenses.
Stranger things have happened. The Bulldogs gave up 519 yards and 45 points to Napa last week. Rodriguez can’t match Napa’s offense, but few teams have a receiver as talented as Aaron Short, who has five scoring plays of 69 yards or longer this season.
Despite playing monster opponents on Friday, both Armijo and Rodriguez have to be looking ahead to their game at Brownlee Field next week. For the Indians, it’s a chance to snap what may be a 32-game MEL losing streak. For the Mustangs, it’s a shot to avoid going winless against city teams for the first time since 2004.
Fairfield’s last best shot at another victory in 2013 is Friday at Vallejo. The Falcons will be outmanned, as they have been each of the last five weeks, and the Apaches have played a tougher schedule (44 opponents wins to 33), but Fairfield’s other two wins were over struggling teams (Pioneer, Rodriguez).
Fairfield closes the season by hosting Vanden, which will be needing a win to enhance its playoff positioning and have a shot at a possible piece of the SCAC championship. The Vikings won’t be overlooking anyone at that point.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or email@example.com.