If a proposal passes next month, CIF bowls will no longer exclude any section champion. There will just be a lot more divisions and some of them just might not be that exciting.
Two of the best football teams this season that did not get chosen to play in a CIF Northern California regional bowl game were Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton and Aptos.
Since Sacred Heart Prep won the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division, becoming the first private school from outside of the West Catholic Athletic League to do that, the Gators may not have been that disappointed with not being able to face powerhouse Folsom in the NorCal Division I bowl game.
For Aptos, however, which was involved in a very tough call that also involved Campolindo-Moraga and Sutter for the NorCal Div. III bowl game, there was more bitterness. There just wasn’t anyplace else for the Mariners to go after they topped St. Ignatius-San Francisco for a second straight CCS Div. III title.
Next year, if a new plan passes next month at the CIF Federated Council meeting, every team that wins a section football title will be playing in a bowl game. The concept is simply to expand the number of divisions to 11 with an open division remaining for the two very best teams plus a small schools open division (enrollments below 1,200).
Some believe that the new system will create a watered down series of champions. This is definitely true if you recall that just last year Folsom and De La Salle-Concord actually played in a NorCal Open Division bowl game, and that starting next year such a matchup still isn’t happening while possible matchups such as Mission-San Francisco traveling to play a rural small-school opponent such as Winters or Bear River-Grass Valley will be on the CIF bowl game schedule.
Still, even if one accepts it’s a watered-down approach, when the CIF section commissioners next meet for football bowl game selections next December, it will be to seed the teams and just decide who’s playing who in each division. That will be far more enjoyable for them then conducting a vote that effectively ends the season for many teams.
Looking at a mock selection of teams that the CIF did earlier this year and using this year’s section champions, here is a look at what games this year’s teams from Northern California might have been playing in:
OPEN DIVISON: De La Salle-Concord vs. Centennial-Corona “” The Spartans still would have received the Open Division bid from the North in the new system.
OPEN DIVISION (Small): Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton vs. Central Catholic-Modesto “” Just a hunch, but we think the Gators would rather have had another matchup with a bigger school such as Clayton Valley or Grant.
1AA: Folsom vs. Grant-Sacramento “” The NorCal game under the new format would have been the same as this year.
1A: Edison-Fresno vs. Clayton Valley-Concord “” In the new plan, the CIF Central Section Division I, Division III and Division V champions also would be in the north.
2AA: Oakdale vs. Campolindo-Moraga “” Since Campolindo was clearly ahead of Enterprise-Redding in the rankings, it would be next in line from the north to play Oakdale.
2A: Enterprise-Redding vs. St. Francis-Mountain View “” We don’t know how the CCS may restructure its own playoffs for next season so we just used the five champions from this season for our mock selections.
3AA: Sutter vs. Aptos “” This is about the point in the proposed format in which the available SoCal teams begin to have an edge in terms of enrollment, competitive strength of playoff division and other factors.
3A: Hanford vs. McClymonds-Oakland “” Forfeits or not, Mack would have gotten a game in this format and also would have been picked for a higher game than Capital Christian since both teams would still be playing.
4AA: Salesian-Richmond vs. San Benito-Hollister “” Yes, it would be strange to see a CCS D1 winner going up against the NCS D5 champ but these divisions under the new plan will be determined by competitive equity and not enrollment.
4A: Capital Christian-Sacramento vs. Terra Nova-Pacifica “” Again, there will be matchups in these bowls for state titles between schools that are quite large enrollment-wise vs. those that are quite small.
5AA: Winters vs. Justin-Siena-Napa “” A Justin-Siena matchup vs. Terra Nova probably is more accurate looking at rankings, but Winters vs. Justin-Siena makes more sense because the two schools aren’t that far apart on the map.
5A: Mission-San Francisco vs. Bear River-Lake of the Pines “” It is true that the San Francisco champion would probably not be competitive in most years until it got down to some of the smaller schools.
6AA: Corcoran vs. Maxwell/Stone Ridge Christian “” It looks like there would be at least one play-in game in the north involving small schools that will end their section playoffs one week before the rest of the state.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of CalHiSports.com. Contact him at mailto:email@example.com and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.
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