The hunt for the Academic Athletic Association playoffs is heating up and a Halloween date between Lowell and Balboa high schools could help decide who one of the four teams vying for a championship will be.
“Just like what [49ers coach Jim] Harbaugh says, most dangerous opponent is the next opponent,” Lowell coach Danny Chan said. “It’s not just a Harbaugh thing, it’s a football thing.”
Lowell and Balboa are separated by one game with three to go, which makes this matchup critical for both teams.
“This is a real big game against Balboa,” Chan said. “We’re probably fighting for that last playoff spot because the top dogs are Lincoln, Mission and [Galileo]. It’s pretty exciting.”
The Cardinals (4-3, 3-1 AAA) have the toughest road to the postseason. After winning back-to-back games against Marshall and Burton, they will face Balboa then move on to undefeated Galileo and last year’s runner-up Mission.
Luckily for Lowell, each of the final three contests will be played at home.
“I’ve been telling the team [to] keep improving,” Chan said. “I don’t talk about winning and losing. We talk about getting better. We’re in position for a lot of things but we still have to get the job done.”
Lowell won the games against Marshall and Burton relatively easily, but Chan spoke about the physicality both teams brought and how his team had to overcome that.
“I think Lowell is not a team that walks in and dominates every team,” Chan said. “We’re up for every team. We don’t take anybody lightly. Those were pretty tough games even though it looked pretty lopsided.”
Balboa (3-4, 2-2) needs the win to get back into the hunt. Three teams sit tied in second place with a 3-1 record and with only four teams reaching the postseason, the Buccaneers are on the outside looking in.
Balboa struggled against the run last week when Lincoln ran for 359 yards. Lowell will bring a similar attack on offense.
While watching film, Chan was impressed with Balboa linebackers Jeremiah Iuli and Clayton Tran and their ability on the defensive side.
“It will be a really good matchup,” Chan said. “I admire coach [Alvaro] Carvajal and how he’s doing his stuff out there.”
Balboa’s remaining games are not much easier. After facing Lowell, Balboa will host Galileo and then take on Washington in their season finale.
Balboa has won three of the last four matchups with Lowell, but the Cardinals took last year’s contest 34-16.