The Star-News


'New-look' CIF football playoffs fail to score in first-round match-ups

Sat, Nov 16 2013 11:52 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents

Regardless of how one stirs the pot, the opening round of the San Diego Section football playoffs remains a haphazard mix of mismatches.

Prior to this season, the section organized its post-season championship tournament based on school enrollment size. However, a certain cadre of elite teams seemed to dominate each division and many had simply seen enough over the years.

This year, a new format based on competition tiers was devised. The aim was to produce more competitive games, particularly in the opening round where blowouts had been the general rule.

So, what happened in Friday's opening round? The new and supposedly improved playoff format produced … a string of lopsided blowouts, perhaps even worse than under the old system.

Only one of the four games in the new Open Division was close, and that only for just more than a half. No. 2 Eastlake trounced No. 7 Poway by a score of 41-7, No. 3 Oceanside bullied No. 6 Torrey Pines by a score of 35-0 and No. 4 Helix steamrollered No. 5 La Costa Canyon by a score of 41-7.

No. 1 Mission Hills had its hands full with No. 8 Steele Canyon, with the teams locked into a 21-all tie at the break. However, the top-seeded Grizzlies munched on the Cougars in the second half en route to score a 56-35 victory.

The other five divisions produced similar results.

A sampling:

Crawford 49, Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy 12

El Capitan 45, Del Norte 21

Morse 56, Bishop's 17

Rancho Buena Vista 56, Serra 21

San Marcos 42, Fallbrook 14

West Hills 31, Scripps Ranch 17

Mission Bay 41, Brawley 16

Southwest El Centro 10, Montgomery 7

University City 20, Castle Park 0

Clairemont 28, La Jolla Country Day 14

Grossmont 35, Otay Ranch 6

Hoover 61, Calexico 0

El Camino 14, Point Loma 13

Mt. Carmel 26, Westview 14

Olympian 35, Mira Mesa 18

Granite Hills 28, Bonita Vista 14

Mater Dei Catholic 55, El Cajon Valley 7

Mountain Empire 16, Escondido Charter 7

Palo Verde Valley 19, Army-Navy Academy 14

Holtville 42, Vincent Memorial 6

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Of the 24 games, only three were settled by less than a touchdown (12.5 percent) and just eight by two touchdowns or less (33 percent).

But the majority of match-ups weren’t close. A total of 15 games featured winning margins of 20 points or more (62.5 percent) and nine games featured winning margins of more than 30 points (37.5 percent).

Two games featured winning margins of more than 40 points.

Obviously, the new format wasn't any better than the previous one, at least based on the opening round. The quarterfinal round match-ups, however, look very intriguing.

But then, maybe the problem isn't with the system used. Just maybe too many teams are being allowed in the playoffs?

The Open Division features eight teams – supposedly the premier teams in the section. The next four enrollment divisions each feature 12 teams, with Division V bringing up the rear with eight teams. That's a total of 64 teams that qualify for post-season play.

Some coaches suggest the playoffs have become too lenient in terms of admission. Why not make each division open to only eight teams, they argue. That should cut down on the number of lopsided scores but it seems to run contrary to the current thinking among school administrators of rewarding as many teams as possible with the so-called “playoff experience.”

But do a 3-7 team and a 2-8 team deserve to be in the playoffs, much less play one another in the opening round?

Some coaches argue that only teams with .500 or better winning percentages should be allowed in the playoffs. If that was the case, then only one team would be eligible to compete in the Division IV playoffs this year.

Other coaches suggest that all the top teams in any given year be allowed to compete in the Open Division, with the division filled at the end-of-season playoff selection meeting rather than by a predetermined line-up. What if there is a 10-0 team in Division I? Couldn't that team be allowed to vie for the premier title?

Numbers suggest the playoffs are simply too diluted.

Breaking down this year's 64 playoff entrants, 37 teams had winning records, nine had .500 records and 18 had losin g records. While 72 percent of this year’s playoff entrants boasted .500 or better records, still nearly 30 percent of teams admitted to this year's playoff field had losing marks.

This isn't to say there weren't some noteworthy games in Friday's opening round.

Granite Hills won its first playoff game since 1985 while both Morse and Clairemont eliminated a pair of private school powers – Bishop's and La Jolla Country Day -- that have become accustomed to winning in post-season play.

In fact, seven teams with losing records won on Friday, including two that topped teams with winning records. However, only three of the 24 visiting teams went home with victories.

But the facts are the facts: only two lower-seeded teams came out of the fray with wins.

That latter statistic isn't much to squawk about in a system that was designed to create parity, or at least more parity than previously existed, and certainly isn't a significant improvement from the old system.

Obviously, if the new playoff system is retained, it might take two or more years before teams move into their more appropriate competition-based divisions. If and when that happens, the section bigwigs who devised this new system will be declared geniuses. In the meantime, the opening round of the playoffs, at least, will continue to be less than a ratings buster.

Call them “play-in” games rather than play-off games for now.

 

San Diego Section
2013 Football Playoffs

Open Division
Quarterfinals
Friday, Nov. 15
(1) Mission Hills 56, (8) Steele Canyon 35
(4) Helix 41, (5) La Costa Canyon 7
(3) Oceanside 35, (6) Torrey Pines 0
(2) Eastlake 41, (7) Poway 7

Semifinals
Friday, Nov. 22
(4) Helix (9-2) at (1) Mission Hills (10-1), 7 p.m.
(3) Oceanside (9-2) at (2) Eastlake (10-1), 7 p.m.

Championship
Monday, Dec. 2
Helix-Mission Hills winner vs. Oceanside-Eastlake winner at Qualcomm Stadium, 5 p.m.

Division I
First round
Friday, Nov. 15
(5) Grossmont 35, (12) Otay Ranch 6
(8) El Camino 14, (9) Point Loma 13
(6) Olympian 35, (11) Mira Mesa 18
(7) Mt. Carmel 26, (10) Westview 14

Quarterfinals
Thursday, Nov. 21
(8) El Camino (5-6) at (1) San Pasqual (9-1), 7 p.m.
(5) Grossmont (9-2) at (4) Carlsbad (8-2), 7 p.m.
(6) Olympian (8-3) at (1) Cathedral Catholic (8-2), 7 p.m.
(7) Mt. Carmel (7-4) at (2) Ramona (9-1), 7 p.m.

Semifinals
Wednesday, Nov. 27
El Camino-San Pasqual winner vs. Grossmont-Carlsbad winner, 7 p.m.
Olympian-Cathedral Catholic winner vs. Mt. Carmel-Ramona winner, 7 p.m.

Championship
Monday, Dec. 2
Teams TBA at Qualcomm Stadium, 2 p.m.

Division II
First round
Friday, Nov. 15
(8) Mission Bay 41, (9) Brawley 16
(5) Rancho Buena Vista 54, (12) Serra 21
(6) El Capitan 45, (11) Del Norte 21
(7) West Hills 31, (10) Scripps Ranch 17

Quarterfinals
Thursday, Nov. 21
(8) Mission Bay (10-1) at (1) Madison (9-1), 7 p.m.
(5) Rancho Buena Vista (8-3) at (4) Mt. Miguel (8-2), 7 p.m.
(6) El Capitan (10-1) at (3) Imperial (10-0), 7 p.m.
(7) West Hills (8-3) vs. (2) St. Augustine (8-2) at San Diego Mesa College

Semifinals
Wednesday, Nov. 27
Mission Bay-Madison winner vs. Rancho Buena Vista-Mt. Miguel winner, 7 p.m.
El Capitan-Imperial winner vs. West Hills-St. Augustine winner, 7 p.m.

Championship
Monday, Dec. 2
Teams TBA at Qualcomm Stadium, 11 a.m.

Division III
Frist round
Friday, Nov. 15
(8) Granite Hills 28 (9) Bonita Vista 14
(5) San Marcos 42, (12) Fallbrook 14
(6) Hoover 61, (11) Calexico 0
(7) Morse 56, (10) Bishop’s 17

Quarterfinals
Friday, Nov. 22
(8) Granite Hills (6-5) at (1) Francis Parker (10-0), 7 p.m.
(5) San Marcos (7-4) at (4) Santa Fe Christian (6-4), TBA
(6) Hoover (8-3) at (3) Hilltop (9-1), 7 p.m.
(7) Morse (5-6) vs. Christian (9-1) at Granite Hills High School

Semifinals
Friday, Nov. 29
Granite Hills-Francis Parker winner vs. San Marcos-Santa Fe Christian winner, 7 p.m.
Hoover-Hilltop winner vs. Morse-Christian winner, 7 p.m.

Championship
Saturday, Dec. 7
Teams TBA at San Diego Mesa College, 7 p.m.

Division IV

First round
Friday, Nov. 15
(8) University City 20, (9) Castle Park 0
(5) Mater Dei Catholic 55, (12) El Cajon Valley 7
(11) Southwest El Centro 10, (6) Montgomery 7
(10) Clairemont 28, (7) La Jolla County Day 14

Quarterfinals
Friday, Nov. 22
(8) University City (4-6) at (1) Monte Vista (5-5), 7 p.m.
(5) Mater Dei Catholic (4-7) at (4) La Jolla (4-6), 7 p.m.
(11) Southwest El Centro (4-7) at (3) Central Union (5-5), 7 p.m.
(10) Clairemont (4-6) at (2) Sweetwater (6-4), 7 p.m.

Semifinals
Friday, Nov. 29
University City-Monte Vista winner vs. Mater Dei Catholic-La Jolla winner, 7 p.m.
Southwest El Centro-Central Union winner vs. Clairemont-Sweetwater winner, 7 p.m.

Championship
Saturday, Dec. 7
Teams TBA at San Diego Mesa College, 3:30 p.m.

Division V
Quarterfinals
Friday, Nov. 15
(1) Crawford 49, (8) Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy 12
(4) Palo Verde Valley 19 (5) Army-Navy Academy 14
(3) Mountain Empire 16, (6) Escondido Charter 7
(2) Holtville 42, (7) Vincent Memorial 6

Semifinals
Friday, Nov. 22
(4) Palo Verde Valley (5-6) at (1) Crawford (10-0), 7 p.m.
(3) Mountain Empire (7-4) at (2) Holtville (9-2), 7 p.m.

Championship
Saturday, Nov. 30
Palo Verde Valley-Crawford winner vs. Mountain Empire-Holtville winner at San Diego Mesa College, 7 p.m.


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