THE LOCAL FOOTBALL SEASON ENDS
This past weekend we said good bye to the local high school of football season. The state playoffs will go on and on and on without any local teams.
This seemed to be a year of more controversy, especially on one subject. It seems appropriate that the last game of the season was Cardinal Newman and Marin Catholic. When they moved to Division 4 it caused the biggest controversy, maybe the biggest in years.
I made a comment in the preview of that game, they did nothing wrong, which they didn’t. There were some comments on in my inbox and at the article. Some of the comments at the articles were just plain rude. One guy’s comments were over the top and removed and he has been blocked from commenting again. Most of the comments in my in box were civil, which I appreciate.
In the Marin Catholic-Fort Bragg recap I said that it was a massacre that shouldn’t have been played. Using the word massacre was a mistake and I apologize for that. The comment led some people to assume that it meant that Marin Catholic shouldn’t have been in Division 4. What I really meant was that Fort Bragg shouldn’t have been in the same division. No NCL I team should be in the same division as those two.
Did you know that the Cardinal Newman and Marin Catholic basketball teams are in Division 4? Actually they met in last year’s NCS Championship game. I don’t remember the uproar over that, probably because that is the way it has always been. I did comment before last year’s Cardinal Newman-Cloverdale playoff game that it doesn’t seem right they are in the same section.
Actually the playoff system is a mess. It starts with pre-season scheduling of games that teams have no chance of winning, but the tough opponent helps the power ranking. One first round playoff game was between a team that was 3-7 against a team that was 4-6. The team that went 3-7 qualified because of a 1-1 record against its own Division. In all six of the sixteen teams in Division 3 finished under .500.
Makes you wonder why Marin Catholic and Cardinal Newman left.
I’m not sure what the fix is or if the powers that decide these things even care. The money for the playoffs rolls in. For example, the Marin Catholic-Fort Bragg football game drew a big crowd. The NCS knows parents are going to pay no matter how bad the matchup is. The Fort Bragg side has the small town loyalty to go with it, so they were there in force.
I can relate to the small town loyalty being from Cloverdale. The Cloverdale-Cardinal Newman basketball game had one of the biggest crowds of any playoff game. That was mainly because of the Cloverdale turnout. Even though it wasn’t a fair matchup, the NCS was counting the money.
Of course, basketball is different from football. For one, it takes fewer players for a basketball team. But the biggest difference is football is a more violent of a sport, where bad injuries can occur and did occur in these playoffs. That makes the one sided games more unacceptable. Granted one sided games will happen in any level of sports. But a lot of these are one sided as soon as they are scheduled and everybody knows it.
In the preview of the first round of the playoffs, this was my opening statement, “The North Coast Section playoffs are in some ways much like the regular season. Most of the games are pretty one sided as you wait for the heavyweight showdowns.”
That turned out to be true.
For things to change there has to be more people in the press that complain about it besides me. I know I don’t have much pull, it just feels a little satisfying to complain about it. If I did have pull, changes would have come by now. I have been harping on this for at least three years.
I haven’t seen any complaints by other members of the press. Maybe they get paid descent money and don’t want to rock the boat. They brag about the same teams every season and don’t care how many one sided games there are. There is one column on a website where a writer was keeping track of how right he was on who would make the state playoffs. If the other divisions are like the NCS, that isn’t that hard. Just picking the No. 1 seed in the NCS and you were 4-1.
The biggest statement would be for a program to make a stand. Instead of going to play a game like Fort Bragg had to do at Marin Catholic, or almost any first round game, don’t show up. Maybe that would wake the section up. My guess is the section would punish the school with an over the top penalty. But that still would be a start. At the very least it would have kept the injury count down.
During one of the KSRO radio broadcasts over the weekend there was a comment that teams play these one sided games to keep the team together for that extra week. There is other ways to get the team together than play a game they are getting hit time after time with no chance of winning. How about a flag football game between the Varsity and JV? You could charge three bucks and give the money to charity. Or give it to the NCS, they might take it.
Really the playoffs aren’t the only thing that is a mess. The league races are just as bad. In the NBL and SCL this season there was more games decided by over forty points, than fewer than seven. When doing the weekly recap each week it was hard to find a close game and there is only so much you can say about a 42-7 type of score.
Again, I’m not sure what the answer is, but one thing might be to quit worrying about school size.
Santa Rosa is a Division 1 school only in number, not in football.
Elsie Allen is a Division 3 school only in number, not in football.
That is just a couple of examples of teams that are not in the leagues they shouldn’t be in. Sports is supposed to be fun at the high school level. A break from the daily grind of studying and homework. It can’t be fun for some of these teams.
Football is at a crossroads. A lot of people think it is too dangerous. I am sure some parents won’t let their kids play because it isn’t worth the risk, especially if the school is losing games by a big margin almost every week.
Something needs to change and not a little change. Most leagues are changed every so often and it’s like putting on a band aid, well whatever a band aid is for that is not nearly big enough.
The North Coast Section apparently had a meeting on Monday to start working on fixing it.
I am not holding my breath.
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