When the North Coast Section’s Sports Advisory Committee convenes Monday in Novato, the hot topic will be the new format for the football playoffs.
The California Interscholastic Federation threw a monkey wrench at some sections, including NCS, when it passed a rule that only section champions will be allowed to advance to the state football playoffs beginning this fall.
Because De La Salle has won 27 straight NCS football championships, section officials are trying to figure out a plan that would allow other elite football programs such as Liberty and Pittsburg to have a crack at state without having to beat Northern California’s premier program.
For the past three years, the Open Division runner-up — the team that lost to De La Salle in the title game — moved on. But the CIF doesn’t want second-place finishers in section playoffs winning a state title, at least in football.
Several proposals will be on the table Monday, but one that appears to make a lot of sense is the formation of seven eight-team divisions. Of course, this means only 56 teams in the section playoffs, a steep reduction over the 64-to-84 teams in the past. On the other hand, 56 is more then half of the 110 schools in NCS that play football.
Competitive equity and school enrollment also will factor in to how the divisions are divided. CIF places a much higher priority on competitive equity than how many students wander the hallowed halls of each California high school.
The Bay Valley Athletic League also is expected to chime in with a proposal to split Division I into two divisions — Open and Division I. Seeds 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16 would play in the Open Division and seeds 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 and 15 would be placed in D-1. That prevents top teams in the section from always having to go through De La Salle to play for a state crown.
No final decisions will be reached on Monday. The Sports Advisory Committee will submit recommendations to the NCS Board of Managers, which is expected to render a decision on March 29.
Rather than wait another month, or even until Monday, the Bay Area News Group drew up a plan — two plans actually — that incorporate some NCS ideologies, along with some from the Central Coast Section and some of our own.
We then put together two playoff brackets of seven divisions, each with eight teams, based on what happened in 2018. But first, an explanation of the criteria we used to determine the brackets.
The first set of brackets combine competitive equity and school enrollment, which NCS has always emphasized. The second set of brackets is based solely on competitive equity. It gives no regard to how many students attend said schools
On with the criteria:
— Regular season wins times two. Simple math: teams with six wins received 12 points, teams with seven wins get 14. And so on. Postseason wins don’t count.
— We broke NCS leagues into A, B and C levels. A league wins are worth two points. B league victories get 1.5 points and C league wins count one point. Again, regular season only.
Here’s how the leagues were broken down:
A leagues: BVAL and East Bay Athletic League-Mountain Division.
B leagues: Diablo Athletic League-Foothill Division, EBAL-Valley, Humboldt-Del Norte Big 4, Marin County Athletic League, North Bay-Oak, Tri-County Athletic League-Rock, Vine Valley Athletic League, West Alameda County Conference-Foothill Division.
C leagues: DAL-Valley, Humboldt-Del Norte Little 4, Mission Valley Athletic League, North Bay-Redwood, North Central I, TCAL-Stone, WACC-Shoreline, Independents.
Teams playing non-league games against opponents outside the section received points if they beat a top 200 team in California or an out-of-state team that ranked among the top 20 percent of the teams in that state. We used the rankings from CalPreps.com.
— Teams received one point for playing a league champion during the regular season. Didn’t matter which team won or lost.
— An A league title was worth 2.5 points. B league winners got two points, C league winners 1.5.
— Yes, credit was given for beating a top team. A victory over a top 100 team in California was worth three points. Beating a team ranked from 101-150 was worth two, winning against a team ranked 151-200 earned one point.
For games against out-of-state opponents, a victory over a team that ranked among the top 10 percent of the schools in that state got three points. Two points were awarded for victories over teams in the top 11-15 percent, and one for beating a team in the top 16-20 percent.
De La Salle received three points for beating Bishop Gorman-Las Vegas. Clayton Valley got two for knocking off Canyon Springs-North Las Vegas. Del Norte-Crescent City earned one point for its win over Mazama of Klamath Falls, Ore.
— The top 56 NCS teams in the CalPreps rankings then received additional points based on where they were ranked. No. 1 De La Salle received 56 points. Liberty got 55, Pittsburg 54 and so on.
— Teams had to win at least four regular season games to become eligible for the playoffs. We understand some teams play much tougher schedules than others, but if the result is a 2-8 season, maybe it’s time to lighten up.
— In the first set of brackets, where we combined competitive equity and school enrollment, teams were placed in divisions according to NCS standards. But they were seeded strictly on competitive equity. This eliminated Redwood-Larkspur, the only plus-.500 team not to make the playoffs. Robin Williams’ alma mater didn’t have enough points to qualify among the top eight teams in Division II.
Redwood was fine when competitive equity was the lone criteria because it qualified in Division IV.
— In both sets of brackets, we used the BVAL’s proposal of splitting Division I into two eight-team brackets. Teams seeded 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16 had to contend with No. 1 seed De La Salle in the Open Division. The Nos. 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 and 15 teams were Division I.
Finally, one last suggestion: divisions should be altered on a year-to-year basis depending on how teams do in the regular season. A team’s fortunes can change a lot from one season to the next. Two prime examples are Las Lomas and James Logan.
Head coach Ryan Partridge of Liberty celebrates as Liberty defeated Sierra Canyon 19-17 to win the CIF State Division 1 A Championship football game at Cerritos College on Saturday, December 15, 2018 in Norwalk, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
What the 2018 brackets might have looked like when competitive-equity and school enrollment both were factored. First-round matchups only:
No. 16 Dougherty Valley at No. 1 De La Salle; No. 13 San Leandro at No. 4 Clayton Valley Charter; No. 12 Amador Valley at No. 5 San Ramon Valley; No. 9 Antioch at No. 8 California.
Cardinal Newman, Rancho Cotate and Bishop O’Dowd would have replaced Dougherty Valley, San Leandro and Amador Valley if competitive-equity had been the only criteria.
No. 15 James Logan at No. 2 Liberty; No. 14 Deer Valley at No. 3 Pittsburg; No. 11 Granada at No. 6 Freedom; No. 10 Vintage at No. 7 Monte Vista.
James Logan, sub-.500 Deer Valley and Vintage are out under the mantle of competitive-equity. Eureka, Campolindo and Las Lomas are in.
No. 8 Montgomery-Santa Rosa at No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd; No. 7 Santa Rosa at No. 2 Rancho Cotate; No. 6 Benicia at No. 3 Campolindo; No. 5 Ukiah at No. 4 Marin Catholic.
With enrollment factored in, Benicia plays in a higher division than DAL-Valley rival Las Lomas. The Knights went 10-0 during the 2018 regular season and beat Benicia 35-0.
No. 8 Alameda at No. 1 Cardinal Newman; No. 7 Hayward at No. 2 Las Lomas; No. 6 De Anza at No. 3 El Cerrito; No. 5 Maria Carrillo at No. 4 American Canyon.
Cardinal Newman was discussed as an Open Division candidate when the playoffs were seeded in November.
No. 8 Petaluma at No. 1 Eureka; No. 7 Terra Linda at No. 2 Miramonte; No. 6 Pinole Valley at No. 3 Encinal; No. 5 San Marin at No. 4 Acalanes.
Should two 10-0 teams — Eureka and Pinole Valley — be Division IV even though that’s were enrollment numbers place them?
No. 1 Fortuna at No. 8 Arcata; No. 7 Fort Bragg at No. 2 Moreau Catholic; No. 6 Piedmont at No. 3 Del Norte; No. 4 Kennedy-Richmond at No. 5 Kelseyville.
NCS gives the home-field advantage to a league champion even when it’s the lower seed. That’s why Fortuna and Kennedy-Richmond open on the road.
No. 8 St. Vincent-Petaluma at No. 1 Middletown; No. 7 Berean Christian at No. 2 Salesian; No. 6 St. Helena at No. 3 St. Bernard’s; No. 5 Cloverdale at No. 4 St. Patrick-St. Vincent.
Competitive-equity only brackets:
No. 16 Granada at No. 1 De La Salle; No. 13 San Ramon Valley at No. 4 Clayton Valley Charter; No. 12 Antioch at No. 5 Cardinal Newman; No. 9 Bishop O’Dowd at No. 8 Rancho Cotate.
No. 15 Las Lomas at No. 2 Liberty; No. 14 Campolindo at No. 3 Pittsburg; No. 11 California at No. 6 Freedom; No. 10 Eureka at No. 7 Monte Vista
Then again, lumping the Open and Division I together, there is certainly potential for some mismatches in the first round.
No. 8 San Leandro at No. 1 Marin Catholic; No. 7 Encinal at No. 2 Vintage; No. 6 Ukiah at No. 3 Moreau Catholic; No. 4 Amador Valley at No. 5 El Cerrito.
Here is where competitive-equity begins to pay off. Not sure any of these contests would have had running clocks in the fourth quarter.
No. 8 James Logan at No. 1 Miramonte; No. 7 Middletown at No. 2 Pinole Valley; No. 6 San Marin at No. 3 Del Norte; No. 5 Fortuna at No. 4 Benicia.
No. 8 Maria Carrillo at No. 1 Acalanes; No. 2 American Canyon at No. 7 Montgomery; No. 6 Santa Rosa at No. 3 Kennedy-Richmond; No. 4 Deer Valley at No. 5 Kelseyville.
Kelseyville gets the home field because it was a league champion.
No. 8 Petaluma at No. 1 Terra Linda; No. 7 Dougherty Valley at No. 2 Salesian; No. 6 Hayward at No. 3 De Anza; No. 5 St. Bernard’s at No. 4 Redwood.
Redwood is a playoff team when enrollment is subtracted from the equation.
No. 8 Arcata at No. 1 Alameda; No. 7 Dublin at No. 2 Tennyson; No. 6 Piedmont at No. 3 Tamalpais; No. 5 Livermore at No. 4 St. Patrick-St. Vincent.
This division might have produced the most closely-contested first round of all.
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