CCS proposals could change playoff landscape

Coaches discussed the possibility of new groundwork for the eight-team Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs during a football committee meeting at section headquarters on Wednesday night in San Jose.

San Lorenzo Valley High defensive coordinator Dave Poetzinger, who represented the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League at the meeting, said the 13 league reps and four CCS officials came up with a plan to determine the best eight teams in the CCS.

Under the discussed groundwork, which is simply a recommendation and not official, the top four teams from the West Catholic Athletic League would play in the Open Division playoffs, as would the champions of the De Anza Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, the Mount Hamilton Division of the Blossom Valley Athletic League, and the Gabilan Division of next year’s two-tiered Monterey Bay League [formerly the Tri-County Athletic League].

There were also three options laid out in determining the eighth team to play in the Open Division. They were:

— Option 1: The runner-up team with the most power points from the Mount Hamilton, De Anza or Gabilan divisions.

— Option 2: The fifth-place team in the WCAL that wanted to opt-up.

— Option 3: The Bay Division champion of the Peninsula Athletic League, if the team had an enrollment of 1,500 students or more and had more power points than the runner-up team from Option 1.

League reps will discuss the Open Division scenarios with their respective coaches.
The next CCS meeting is scheduled for Jan. 12.

“If we want to make sure we get the eight best teams in there, how do we determine the eight best teams?” Poetzinger said of the meeting’s goal.

“It’s not a perfect system, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Poetzinger later added. “I don’t think any system is going to be perfect.”

It will be interesting to see how this develops. Under this system, the CCS Open Division this year would include Bellarmine [WCAL 1], Serra [WCAL 2], Mitty [WCAL 3], Saint Francis [WCAL 4], Palo Alto [De Anza], Oak Grove [Mount Hamilton] and San Benito [Tri-County], with the 8th team left.

The SLV coach said CCS commissioner Nancy Lazenby Blaser framed the discussion nicely, first asking everyone whether they want an Open Division. Everyone agreed they did; the Open Division is looked upon as prestigious, the best of the best, and the CCS is the only section in California to have one.

She then asked if the Open Division should include the top 8 teams in the CCS. Everyone believed it should.

Her third question was whether teams should be opting-up to the Open Division. This is where many reps said no.

Said Poetzinger, “It shouldn’t be about opting-in or opting-up. It should be the best eight teams.”

On Monday, it was reported Leland High football coach Mike Carrozzo co-authored a proposal with Santa Clara’s Mark Krail, who previously coached at Pioneer, that would require every private school to compete in a new open-enrollment division in the playoffs. But Poetzinger said this isn’t doable; CIF rules stipulate as much.

“Legally, we cold not have a playoff system that’s all privates,” he said. “We can’t do that in California.”

The league reps met for more than 2 hours on Wednesday night, with the CCS Open Division scenarios getting the bulk of the discussion time.

“It was a good meeting of people talking openly,” Poetzinger said. “There was just so much on the table to discuss that it’s going to take two meetings to get it all done.”

Poetzinger said the League Classification Index was not discussed.

However, several other items were brought up.

— First game next year will either be Aug. 31 or Sept. 1.

— No more Week 0. Teams will stay play the same amount of games, but the first game will be played in Week 1, the last will be played in Week 11.

— The equity league among this year’s TCAL/MBL schools was discussed.

— The opt-up Open Division date was moved up two weeks, to Oct. 28. This item is kind of meaningless now, though, as it was discussed prior to the league reps breaking down a scenario that would send specific league champions to the Open Division.

— There was a 20-minute conversation on lightning delays, which wreaked havoc on CCS teams this season. What was discussed: If a game is postponed to lightning, it is expected to be played as soon as possible, within 24 to 48 hours — same spot on the field where they left off, same down, same everything. If the game is in the fourth quarter, and the mercy rule is in effect [one team leading by 35 points or more] when the lightning delay occurs, the game is over. If the game is in the fourth quarter, and the mercy rule is NOT in effect, but both coaches agree to end the game at that point, they can.

— Tie games were discussed, and they are expected to be now played out until someone wins. The overtime will be NFHS rules, which I understand are similar to college rules. The ball will be placed at the 10-yard line, and each team will have four downs to score. The teams switch sides and keep going until someone wins.

Poetzinger said that SCCAL coaches voted on this very same thing last week — playing out tie games until one team wins.

Again, nothing was truly decided upon at tonight’s meeting. But these are some of the items that were being discussed. More discussion and perhaps some voting on these items is expected at the next meeting — Jan. 12, 2012.

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