With the CCS now done with its regular season and with its new three-pronged Open Division pairings in the books, it’s time for the NCS to do something similar. Go inside for our proposal for a two-pronged NCS Open Division. This will finally give more bigger schools the opportunity to show what they can do in a CIF bowl game beyond De La Salle.
Note: For this week’s Gold Club post highlighting the State Top 25 overall rankings, CLICK HERE.
The bye week for a preponderance of the top teams in the top enrollment divisions of the CIF North Coast Section should signal bye-bye baby to the archaic system the NCS has maintained for its football playoffs. Such a move also reflects on the fact that the new CIF regional/state bowl game format is based on competitive equity.
The one thing the byes do is avoid first-round blowouts but if the NCS went to two eight-team Open Divisions and split them by enrollment after seeding them like the CIF Central Coast Section has now done with its three Open Divisions, the NCS would still have enough teams to field another four divisions and that would mean they could send six qualifiers to the bowl games instead of five.
Under current CIF state rules language that allowed the CCS to send its three Open winners and two of the three runners-up to bowl games, the NCS could solve the problem of nobody other than De La Salle among its top large schools getting a chance to play beyond the section level.
Let’s say, for example, the NCS had two Open Divisions and took the top 16 teams in the Bay Area rankings from this week’s and spilt them by enrollment after they were seeded. Instead of some teams playing and others having a bye, all the teams would just wait one week like in the San Diego Section, which has an eight-team Open Division.
The proposed divisions would be as follows, looking at the current teams:
In Open 1 would be De La Salle, Antioch, Foothill, Monte Vista, Pittsburg, Freedom, Amador Valley and James Logan, while in Open 2 it would be Clayton Valley, Campolindo, Marin Catholic, California, Cardinal Newman, Analy, Miramonte and Rancho Cotate.
This would mean the NCS would have to re-shuffle its other divisions but other sections have done it successfully.
“Having an Open Division was on the last agenda of our board of managers meeting and it’s on the December agenda again,” NCS Commissioner Gil Lemmon said. “We really ought to be looking at competitive divisions and it’s being reviewed and there could be some movement. What we want is the right solution and the section (office) doesn’t dictate things. It’s up to the schools.”
Hopefully, Lemmon can get the schools to see that trying to fit a square peg into a round hole is not going to get them an “A” in geometry.
It won’t help teams playing against De La Salle this year, but heck, Antioch superstar running back Najee Harris is only a junior so if the NCS brass gets off its duff and gets with the statewide program and other sections moving to a form of “competitive equity,” then finishing second to Sparta won’t be so bad anymore.
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
(Through games of Saturday, Nov. 14)
(Includes all Central Coast Section schools but no North Coast Section schools north of the Santa Rosa Metro area)
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 9-1
2. (2) Clayton Valley (Concord) 9-1
3. (3) Foothill (Pleasanton) 10-0
4. (4) Bellarmine (San Jose) 9-1
5. (5) Antioch 10-0
6. (6) Pittsburg 9-2
7. (7) St. Francis (Mountain View) 9-1
8. (9) Monte Vista (Danville) 7-3
9. (12) Serra (San Mateo) 6-4*
10. (10) Campolindo (Moraga) 10-1
11. (8) Valley Christian (San Jose) 7-3
12. (11) Archbishop Riordan (SF) 7-3
13. (13) Milpitas 8-2
14. (14) Freedom (Oakley) 7-4
15. (15) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 8-3
16. (16) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 9-1
17. (17) California (San Ramon) 7-4
18. (18) Palma (Salinas) 9-1
19. (19) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 6-4
20. (23) Oak Grove (San Jose) 8-2
21. (21) Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 9-2
22. (22) Analy (Sebastopol) 11-0
23. (20) James Logan (Union City) 7-4*
24. (24) Los Gatos 7-3
25. (25) Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 10-1
Dropped Out: None.
Teams On the Bubble (Alphabetical order)
Aptos 6-4, Burlingame 9-1, Concord 7-4, Dublin 7-4*, Justin-Siena (Napa) 9-2, Leigh (San Jose) 8-2, Live Oak (Morgan Hill) 9-1, McClymonds (Oakland) 10-0, Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) 5-4, Miramonte (Orinda) 10-1, Monte Vista Christian (Watsonville) 9-1, Piedmont 8-2, Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 8-3, Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 7-3, Salinas 6-4, San Benito (Hollister) 6-4, San Leandro 6-5*, San Ramon Valley (Danville) 3-7*, St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 8-3, Tennyson (Hayward) 9-2, Wilcox (Santa Clara) 8-2.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend
Any system that puts Clayton Valley in Open Two is already wrong.
Yeah, any other teams been suspended or in the papers for the wrong reasons like the Ugly Eagles of Clayton Valley Charter?
Why not just rename Division 1, Open 1, take the top two to regionals and leave the rest alone. Enrollment divisions at least divide the teams up equitably for the most part, with 2 exceptions in the entire NCS. This way there’s not too much room for debate, using the grounds of “competitive equity,” (which is decided by who? or What? CalHi rankings??). Let’s settle it on the field, and not let rankings become too important. And what about the smaller schools with non-powerhouse programs? They will be forever condemned. Also, If CIF has allotted 5 regional berths to NCS, having 2 open divisions isn’t going to increase the number to 6. Where’s that coming from?
CalHi rankings have Clayton Valley ranked at number 10 in the State, and number 2 in Bay Area behind DLS. How in the world did Mr. Abends article get them into Open 2? Is this CalHi’s idea of competitive equity? I vote no to his idea, especially if rankings are misused as is so apparent in this article. Geez guys.
I’m going to defend Harold’s proposal even though Clayton Valley should be in NCS Open 1 instead of Open 2. He was using the enrollments to split the teams and not some ranking. That’s how the CCS does it, which is why the Bells are D1 Open, St. Francis is D2 Open and Riordan in D3 Open. Clayton Valley was listed in his D2 Open because of its enrollment. Rankings were not misused at all. If Clayton Valley was to have been in NCS Open 1 then it would be due to rankings and other factors.
Clayton Valley’s enrollment numbers is a joke. Look at their roster on maxpreps and they have well over 100 kids, they had 80+ when the season started. The rankings for CV are bleh.
I agree that NCS needs to modify their structure and criteria for football playoff divisions.
Actually, all the sections in the CIF North Region need to get away from division placement based entirely or nearly entirely on school enrollment. All the sections in the South Region do their placement primarily on competitive equity either by individual schools as CS, LACS, and SDS do, or by league as SS has done however SS is going to individual school placement next fall. These sections have “formulas” to determine a team’s “power level” so the “competitive equity” is not decided by Freeman’s computer rankings,”politics”, or some whim.
Many coaches and AD’s keep playoffs and seedings in mind when scheduling. The problem with “open” divisions is that there’s not much certainty as to which teams will be in a particular division for the playoffs until the regular season is nearly completed.
It appears to me that CCS is doing the 3 open divisions with 2 runnerups also moving on is mainly to get more of their teams into the state finals. I agree it’s unfair for CCS teams not chosen for an open division. And, it’s unfair to division champions in other sections where a runner-up from a “loaded” division goes on to the regional playoffs.
Hopefully, NCS will adopt a “formula” similar to what SDS adopted 3 years ago for division placement: recent years achievement with enrollment also a factor. SDS used to only use enrollment as the criteria for division placement too, and teams like Helix and Oceanside (arguably the 2 strongest football programs over the years in the San Diego area) were only in Division 2.
Let me start by saying the CCS is getting the same number teams advancing to the state regionals with their Open Divisions as they would without them. The reason why the runner-ups are advancing is because they are coming from tougher leagues and tougher brackets than those in D-IV and D-V. Also, every team is slotted into leagues in the offseason, so if a team feels it can step up, it can do so in any given year. Most do not because they don’t want to face WCAL teams in the playoffs.
Next, I will say that I have no pity for the smaller NCS schools, relative to the new CCS system. For years, we’ve watched small schools like Marin Catholic, Cardinal Newman, or Campolindo be able to stay in lower divisions, while small schools in the CCS and SJS like Palma, Sacred Heart Prep, or Stockton St. Mary’s have been forced into higher divisions. If anything, the new CCS system is just leveling the playing field.
I do not especially believe that the NCS would create Open Divisions exactly like what Harold describes. We would more likely see a Large School Open and a Small School Open. I would guess that the cut-off may be somewhere around 1500. This would put the top D-I and D-II teams together and all of the lower division teams together. There would probably be a D-I non-open, where the winner does not advance and at least one in the lower ranks. I could even see 3 Opens for much smaller schools (maybe <1000).
To explain the point I was trying to make is that I don’t feel NCS should try to adopt a similar system as CCS’s especially for football and basketball. Here’s why.
The WCAL (all private schools) overwhelmingly dominates football and basketball in CCS. (I realize that Sacred Heart Prep won the CCS Open last year, however I think it’s fair to say that “Consolation playoff” turned out to be quite a debacle). In NCS, the EBAL and BVAL are very strong in football and in some years equal or stronger than the WCAL. DLS is the only private in either of those leagues (and of course “rules” NorCal football), and is an anomaly in that sport. The DFAL is srong for medium sized schools. Also there are more schools in NCS (about 155 for basketball).
Also, it’s fair to say playoffs should be “win or go home” in football. I can’t think of anywhere at any level (Except some limited circumstances here in California) where this doesn’t apply. There must have been some interesting “horse trading” at the CIF Council for CCS to get their “Open” runnerups into the regionals.
As I said before, I would like NCS to adopt a system similar as to what SDS did.