High School Sports

Arroyo Grande football team is a long shot for state bowl game

Arroyo Grande High’s Garrett Owens had four catches for 119 yards in Friday night’s win over Culver City.
Arroyo Grande High’s Garrett Owens had four catches for 119 yards in Friday night’s win over Culver City. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

All the celebrating may have died out by now, but it’ll be hard to take away the lasting memories the Arroyo Grande High football team created in capturing the CIF-Southern Section Western Division title after Friday night’s 42-14 dismantling of Culver City.

So what’s next?

A state bowl game?

Maybe, maybe not.

The Eagles are in consideration to participate in one, but the odds are against them. Other section-winning teams have endured tougher schedules and earned bigger wins. It doesn’t mean Arroyo Grande’s season wasn’t a successful one of course — just ask the thousands who watched the Eagles win their first section title since 1998 and fifth overall.

The commissioners of every CIF section meet today to determine the participants in this year’s five state bowl games in the Open Division and Divisions 1-4 on Friday and Saturday at The Home Depot Center in Carson. Each contest will have representatives from the north and south facing each other.

“We’ve done everything we could have done to get a spot,” Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said. “We understand the competition is intense at this point. We’ll live with the results. Those are the decisions that they have to make at the CIF and we’ll live with whatever decision they make.”

If picked, the Eagles would play in the Division 2 state bowl as a south representative. Teams are placed in a division based on enrollment.

In addition to winning a section title, section commissioners will look into win-loss records, strength of nonleague scheduling, league and section playoff records, head-to-head competition and common opponents, as well as a loyal fan base.

After losing the season opener against Lompoc — which beat Cabrillo 21-0 on Friday to win its second straight Northwest Division title — the Eagles put their state bowls hope in jeopardy. Yes, the only team to beat Arroyo Grande became back-to-back section winners and finished 14-0, but Lompoc is a Division 3 team and losing to a lower-division team won’t look good in the eyes of the CIF.

The Eagles have won 13 straight since losing to Lompoc.

Helix (12-1) of La Mesa is the favorite to represent the south in the Division 2 bowl, according to Cal Hi Sports, followed by No. 2 Rancho Verde (14-0) of Moreno Valley, No. 3 Cathedral Catholic (12-1) of San Diego and No. 4 Arroyo Grande (13-1). All of those teams won their section tile, and Helix’s only defeat came against East Lake of Chula Vista, a Division 1 team that played in its section’s semifinals.

Even if the Eagles don’t play another game, they’ve achieved their primary goal this season. After winning the division champion-ship, quarterback Brent VanderVeen was mobbed by fans and other supporters. When he had a little time to breathe, he answered a few questions from the media.

One of them pertained to the Eagles’ state bowl hopes.

“I’d say we would’ve had a better chance if won our first game (against Lompoc), but we lost,” he said. “I’m just happy we got (the division title).”