If anyone out there remembers some of our ancient Cal-Hi Sports newsletters from the 1980s or 1990s, they’ll recall that founder and record book compiler Nelson Tennis (my uncle, who died in 2004) did a short series of comments he called “Random Remarks.”
With that in mind, here are some random remarks heading into the CIF state football championships scheduled for Dec. 16-17:
>> It’s a great list of QBs who have schools playing for titles, including Tom Brady (Serra-San Mateo), Aaron Rodgers (Pleasant Valley-Chico), Derek Carr (Bakersfield Christian) and USC’s Sam Darnold (San Clemente).
>> Carr’s former school, which is playing Campolindo for the Div. IV-AA state title, is coached by his brother, Darren. His other brother, David, the former No. 1 draft pick, is the offensive coordinator. David Carr also was an NFL QB for 12 years.
>> San Clemente’s QB this season, Jack Sears, recently switched his commitment from Duke to USC. And before Darnold, the Tritons had QB Travis Wilson, who went on to star at Utah. That’s three Pac12 QBs in a row from one high school.
>> It’s hard to argue against competitive-equity divisions when so many of the games come down to the wire. There is a fairness issue that arises, however, when teams that don’t win league titles can drop to lower divisions and can compete for state titles, especially when the league champion gets knocked out in a higher division. Del Oro in the Sierra Foothill League (Sac-Joaquin Section) and San Clemente (Southern Section) in the South Coast League are great examples. They are playing for the Div. I-A state title but in league Del Oro lost to Folsom 42-7 while San Clemente lost to Mission Viejo 41-3. Folsom and Mission Viejo both lost in higher divisions.
>> The other aspect of competitive-equity divisions that has the potential to be the most messy is when a school with a massive enrollment advantage gets to play another with small town style enrollment in a state final. That hasn’t happened yet in California, but it could since the CIF Southern Section is now completely competitive equity while other sections like the Central and North Coast are not.
>> If you’re a fan of computer rankings, yes they have their place. But sometimes they are just plain ridiculous. Entering the state finals, the MaxPreps’ computer ranks St. Mary’s-Stockton ahead of De La Salle-Concord even though DLS hasn’t lost to a NorCal team since 1991. Ask any Freedom-Oakley players, who faced both teams in consecutive weeks, which one was more difficult to play. The MaxPreps’ computer also had Del Oro ahead of Folsom. Ahead of Folsom? Guess that game when the Bulldogs dominated the Golden Eagles 42-7 didn’t count for too much in that algorithm.
>> For comeback team of the year, a great candidate may be St. Patrick/St. Vincent-Vallejo. Head coach Lane Hawkins has done a remarkable job turning around a squad that went 2-8 last year and closed with a seven-game losing streak. The Bruins rolled over Brookside Christian-Stockton in the NorCal Division VI-A final 47-18 to advance to the state final against unbeaten Strathmore. Quarterback Akil Edwards, who got the scoring started against Brookside with a 26-yard run, has been one of the reasons for the turnaround.
>> Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth, the school facing Serra-San Mateo in the Division II-A state final, has been collecting a lot of hardware in different sports lately. The Trailblazers swept CIF divisional state titles in basketball for the 2014-15 season, won a CIF Southern Section title this fall in girls volleyball and were the 2015-16 Cal-Hi Sports Division IV State School of the Year. Sierra Canyon’s boys basketball team, which features UCLA-bound Cody Riley and one of the nation’s top juniors, Marvin Bagley, was No. 1 in the state and among the top five in the nation as of December 12.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of CalHiSports.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.