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Academic Athletic Association football enters final week, as Central Coast Section starts playoffs

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Sacred Heart Cathedral running back Anthony Heard has rushed for 374 yards over the first four games of the season. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)

The Central Coast Section and North Coast Section playoffs will see their quarterfinals this week, and the Academic Athletic Association is in its final week of regular season play, meaning that while there won’t be quite as many games in the area, the matchups that will be played should be awfully good.

CCS Division III Quarterfinals: #6 Sacred Heart Cathedral (5-5) @ #3 Live Oak (8-2), Friday, 7 p.m.

After letting one slip away in a quarterfinal defeat to the Acorns last year, the Fightin’ Irish will have a chance to exact revenge on Live Oak, but it’ll require a trip down to Morgan Hill. The hero of last year’s meeting, Cole Davis, graduated, but the Acorns still have their tremendous quarterback in Jonathan Singleton. In his senior season, Singleton is 120-for-206 passing with 23 touchdowns, and he’s also Live Oak’s leading rusher, with 907 yards and 10 touchdowns on 84 carries. He’s not the only excellent player SHC will have to deal with, though.

Nick Lomanto and sophomore Mosiah Saulala have both been prolific on the ground, and another sophomore — Caleb Ojeda — has seven touchdown receptions, meaning Evan Dere and the rest of the secondary will need to rise to the occasion. While the Irish don’t have the variety of offensive weapons that their adversaries do, they’ve got a stellar running back in Anthony Heard and an emerging young quarterback in Cian Dowling, who went 3-3 in six regular-season starts, all against WCAL opponents.

CCS Division III Quarterfinals: #7 St. Ignatius (3-7) @ #2 Sacred Heart Prep (8-2), Saturday, 1 p.m. 

Only one team of the 40 across the five CCS playoff divisions has a worse record than St. Ignatius, but with a ridiculous schedule and back-to-back wins to close the season, it would be hard to find a team that’s better equipped for the postseason than the Wildcats, who have already played in two do-or-die games and won both. In fact, SI didn’t even allow a point in either of those games. Saturday’s contest in Atherton should feature excellent quarterback play, with St. Ignatius junior Zach Taylor-Smith and SHP sophomore Raymond Price III, who has come into his own under the tutelage of head coach Mark Grieb, one of the most decorated QBs in arena football history. Price had a breakout performance in a win over Terra Nova to lock up second place in the PAL Bay Division, with 193 total yards and three touchdowns.

NCS Division II Quarterfinals: #5 Marin Catholic (8-3) @ #4 Granada (9-2), Saturday, 7 p.m. 

As exciting as Marin Catholic’s playoff games were last year, this one has a chance to match that. Granada has been outstanding this year, with wide receiver Malini Ti’a doing a bit of everything for the EBAL Valley Division champions. Granada has won back-to-back games over crosstown rival Livermore, closing the regular season and then winning a first-round playoff matchup with the rival Cowboys. Granada averages 37.4 points per game, meaning freshman quarterback Michael Ingrassia will need to be at his best for the Wildcats to pull off the road win.

Balboa (5-3, 3-2 AAA) @ Galileo (7-2, 4-1), Friday, 2 p.m. 

If Balboa can pull off the upset, it would completely throw off the seeding in the San Francisco playoffs, but the Lions haven’t lost a league game at home since 2016. It’ll be Senior Day for four of Galileo’s big five, as Ronald Fox, Jimmie Edwards III, Michael Duran and Reese Bickart play their final regular-season home game.

Mission (5-4, 3-2 AAA) @ Burton (6-3, 2-3), Friday, 2 p.m. 

A Burton win would open up all kinds of crazy tiebreaking scenarios for the final AAA playoff spots, but Mission has won two straight in convincing fashion, including a 37-13 victory over a Balboa team that beat the Pumas.

CCS Division II Quarterfinals: #5 Serra (6-4) @ #4 Leland (6-4), Friday, 7 p.m.

Though the Padres are the lower seed and will take to the road for this game, they’ll be the considerable favorites. Coming off an extremely rough performance in a 42-7 defeat to St. Francis — the worst home loss Serra has suffered in the WCAL since the league was formed in 1967 — the Padres will certainly have some frustrations to take out, and Friday’s trip to San Jose will provide an opportunity to do so. A defense that allowed 215 passing yards last week will have to be far better against the Chargers, who have an excellent dual-threat quarterback in junior Carson Yates. Yates has thrown for 1,308 yards, rushed for 931 and has racked up 26 touchdowns as Leland finished tied for second in the BVAL’s top tier, the Mt. Hamilton Division.

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