Under usual circumstances, a bye week for the final week of the regular season would just mean the Ventura College football season ending seven days early.
But this has been no ordinary season for the Pirates, who have finished 10-0 for the first time in school history, won the SCFA Northern Conference and clinched a berth in next weekend's Southern California semifinals.
"It's a three-game season right now," Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian said this week. "You're in the tournament. There's only six teams that get to do this throughout the state of California and we're one of them."
Mooshagian's team practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, spent Thursday in the gym and took the weekend off, ahead of Sunday's playoff pairings announcement.
"We should know who we're going to play at some point on Sunday," said the third-year Ventura head coach.
The SoCal playoff field will consist of the National Division's three conference champions, plus a wildcard team, and be seeded by the final regional poll.
No. 2 Ventura (10-0) has clinched the Northern Conference.
No. 1 Mount San Antonio (9-0) and No. 3 Riverside City (8-1) -- both 5-0 in conference play -- will determine the Central Conference champion Saturday at 6 p.m. with their showdown in Walnut, which will be broadcast by http://www.SoCalCollegeSports.com.
The Southern Conference is a mess. No. 6 Santa Ana (7-2), No. 7 Saddleback (5-4) and No. 9 Fullerton (5-4) are tied atop the standings at 4-1. Santa Ana, which owns the tiebreaker, can clinch the berth by beating Fullerton Saturday. Should Fullerton triumph, Saddleback can clinch the berth by beating Golden West. Fullerton will advance with a win and a Saddleback loss.
While much of the Pirates' coaching staff is schedule to scout the Mt. SAC-Riverside showdown Saturday, Mooshagian is planning on taking in Santa Ana-Fullerton in person.
"It'll be interesting to see how it plays out," Mooshagian said. "There are about six scenarios in play... We can't control it. I just hope there's no shenanigans involved."
The Mt. SAC-Riverside loser seems to have the inside track on the wild card berth, which is goes to the highest ranked non-champion in the final regional poll. But No. 4 Bakersfield (7-2) and No. 5 Citrus (7-2) could force their way into the discussion by beating Pasadena City (1-8) and No. 8 Los Angeles Harbor (5-4) Saturday.
An 8-2 Riverside and an 8-2 Bakersfield could make for a heck of a wild-card debate Sunday morning, considering, in that scenario, both teams would have lost to the same two teams -- Ventura and Mt. SAC.
Mooshagian is more concerned with what the bracket would look like if Mt. SAC loses to Riverside for the second straight year. Ventura would, most likely, ascend to the top seed, but might not get the benefit of facing the bottom seed.
SCFA bylaws say the seeding committee "may" reseed the field to avoid matching up two conference opponents. In that scenario, five-time defending SoCal champion Mt. SAC would visit VC next week, rather than a potential four-loss team.
"That's my only concern," Mooshagian said. "If we happen to be fortunate to make it through undefeated, then we should play the fourth seed. It shouldn't have to be manipulated so that Mt. Sac and Riverside don't play again."