Patterson enters the Sac-Joaquin Division III playoffs as a five seed (highest seeding since 2017) and will host Luther Burbank (6-4) out of Sacramento in the opening round on Friday a 7 p.m. The bracket was released Monday around 11 a.m. following the court ruling to uphold a postseason ban on Capital Christian, allowing the Tigers to move up in the ranking and barely missing out on a first round bye, losing out to Yuba City.
“It simply came down to strength of schedule. Their schedule was tough, and they play in a D-2 league, and we did the best we could with our schedule, but our power rating just couldn’t catch theirs,” said head coach Rob Cozart.
Burbank isn’t a team that should be taken lightly as five of their six wins have been one possession games and half of the teams on their schedule made postseason. They are coached by Eddie Elder who has professional football experience with the Arizona Cardinals and Ottawa Redblacks (CFL).
“They do some really good things with their coverage in the secondary and blitz upfront. When your coach has NFL experience, you’re going to see something exotic.”
With the Tigers coming off a bye the short week shouldn’t affect them from a health standpoint and just like most playoff matchups the two sides elected to have the game Friday night instead of Saturday. Sacramento v. Golden Valley will be the only Division III first round matchup played on Saturday.
“Logistically it’s better for us to host it on Friday instead of Saturday. We want those Friday night lights and everything that comes with it. With the bye week being the week before playoffs it’s like everything aligned perfectly for us this round.”
Short weeks of preparation usually means the focus will be attention to detail. That will be important facing a team that’s scrappy and reminds the Tigers of themselves.
“What they do from their base structure is something we’ve seen and similar to what we do, so during the bye week we tighten up some aspects that we weren’t great at and it worked out nice that some of the structure we were working on last week is what we’ll see on Friday.”
Burbank is being led by the Worlds brothers, Jahe’mon and Jahe’mel, who are a quarterback-running back combo for the Titans. Quarterback Jahe’mon averages 14 yards per completion and has rushed for over 300 yards, running back Jahe’mel has nearly 100 carries and had three 100-yard rushing games.
“The quarterback [Jahe’mon] is very athletic, extends plays and doesn’t go down on the first hit, and he has an arm to test the defense with the deep ball. Those guys are their key players in the running game, but they rely on the explosive play, and we have to be conscious of that.”
Burbank is also a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth and with them proving they can win close games, Patterson’s best chance is to do what they have been doing all year since their win against Pitman, put them away early.