High School Sports

Prep Football: CIF plans for football draw mixed reaction

A proposal made by the CIF-Southern Section that would have a significant effect on football teams from the PAC 7 league drew mixed reactions from two coaches Wednesday.

Most of the section’s divisions have been able in recent years to send half of each of their leagues’ members to the playoffs, as has been the case in the PAC 7.

But a pending proposal, which addresses playoff groupings from 2010 to 2012, would move the PAC 7 from the Northern Division to the Western Division. The Western Division would then also include five other leagues: Channel, Mission, Ocean, Pacific View and San Gabriel Valley. Thus, the newly formed six-league division would be able to guarantee playoff spots to only the top two teams in each respective league, plus four at-large bids to be spread throughout the division.

“It’s going to be more difficult for quality teams to get into the playoffs,” St. Joseph coach Mike Hartman said of “cramming” so many leagues into one division. “To me, that’s a negative.”

Because of a four-year re-leaguing cycle, St. Joseph and Pioneer Valley will be entering the PAC 7 this upcoming season, while Lompoc will trade places into the neighboring Los Padres League.

The deadline for leagues to appeal is April 1, with appeal hearings scheduled for April 13.

Righetti athletic director Eric Albright, the PAC 7 secretary, said Wednesday he hadn’t yet had a chance to fully review the proposal and discuss it with athletic directors.

“Hopefully the athletic directors (in the PAC 7) can come up with a good counter-proposal,” Hartman said. “If there’s a mass appeal from a lot of different leagues, that might leave (the section) to reconsider.”

While the switch would make it more difficult for PAC 7 teams to make it to the postseason, it would, however, move the league away from the Marmonte League. That 10-school powerhouse, ensured five Northern Division playoff appearances, includes, most notably, St. Bonaventure and Oaks Christian. The pair of oft-nationally ranked programs, whose rosters are typically accused of being comprised of players from multiple locales, have ended San Luis Obispo County single-community schools’ seasons several times in recent years.

In late February, St. Bonaventure forfeited all 11 of its wins from this past season, as well as its Channel League title, due to a missing document for an out-of-state transfer student.

“Overall, it’s a positive move, I think,” Paso Robles coach Rich Schimke said. “I think our league’s going to stack up real well (in the Western Division).”

Competing against the Mission League, however, the PAC 7 would be faced with possibly running into defending Division III state bowl champion Serra of Gardena, a program recently singled out in a Los Angeles Times feature as an up-and-coming state power.

If indeed the proposal comes to fruition, Schimke and Hartman both said, teams may find themselves having to reconsider compiling nonleague schedules as difficult as they have. Such scenarios could result in less attractive overall records, which could in turn hurt teams’ at-large applications.