May 27, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Orange County coaches like the newly designed format for CIF football playoffs

Beckman coaches and players follow the action during a game last season. (File photo courtesy Mark Bausman, For OC Sports Zone)

A number of Orange County high school football coaches indicated they are excited about the new CIF playoff proposal passed last week.

The revamped playoff system passed by a vote of 80-4-6.

The new plan ranks football teams after the current season and designates them in playoff divisions based on their performances, according to Woodbridge Athletic Director Rick Gibson.

In past years, teams were grouped in playoff divisions before the season.

“They have a formula they have that basically ranks power and wins and losses for the current season,” said Gibson. “So nobody is going to know the division that they’re in until after the last game.

“The purpose of this is competitive equity and to be as recent as possible so you’re not looking at a team that had juniors their prior year and now they have all seniors and they’ve beaten some really good teams and all of a sudden they’re in Division 13 and they just roll through that like nothing. It’s kind of like the NCAA (basketball) the way they do their brackets. But they think it’s going to be 13 or 14 divisions.”

Gibson pointed out that the system should help avoid situations in which teams that appear to be deserving of playoff berths are left out. Beckman was left out of post season play last year despite finishing 6-4 and placing third in the PCL with a 3-2 record.

“They’re going to take every single team that qualifes and they will be in a playoff division,” Gibson said. “So that’s the beauty of it.”

In a six team league, three teams could go to three different divisions, Gibson said. With the addition of Laguna Hills and Dana Hills, The PCL will be an eight team conference with two four-team leagues.

“In our Pacific Coast Conference, there will be two four-team leagues and only the top two (from each league) will go,” Gibson said.

Beckman Coach Marcello Giuliano said he approved of the new plan.

“I think the most significant improvement will be found in the lower divisions where there were too many teams for too few spots, and this should eliminate that logjam,” he said. “Ultimately, this should lead to more deserving teams getting in, and do away with filling brackets with one, two, and three-win at-large berths.

“I also think it’s good that this system divisions teams ‘in real time’ rather than being based on past performance, which should even out the natural ebb and flow of talent in neighborhood public schools from year to year.”

Laguna Hills coach Mike Maceranka, who will lead his squad into the PCL, said he is also excited about the plan.

“I believe the new system will improve the competitive equity of the divisions,” Maceranka said. “I am glad all teams who qualify from their league placement will be included in the playoffs. As for placing teams in their perspective divisions after the completion of the season I think it is outstanding. Over the past several years you could pretty clearly predict who would make it to the finals in many divisions.

“Many teams hit the timing perfectly. teams who were not strong previously and dropped divisions with strong teams made deep runs vs. lesser opponents. It was great for those teams who had several transfers or were young and building for a couple years. The team you had two years ago should not have any weight in the placing the team in a division two years later. The new system should balance out the divisions.

“If a team suddenly has a lot of transfers and is dominating their schedule they will be placed in a competitive division instead of a lower division vs. weaker opponents. I look forward to the season and seeing it all play out in November.”

Segerstrom coach Joseph Tagaloa added his support to the plan. 

“I think the new format is going to make each division competitive and prevent those programs who aren’t able to reload year in and year out to still get a shot at a lower division as well as prevent that school who was down to run through lower divisional competition the following year,” Tagaloa said. “At the end of the day giving everyone a shot to win helps keep everyone motivated.”

Mark Cunningham, athletic director for the Irvine Unified School District and assistant coach at Corona del Mar, said he was very much in favor of the plan. Gibson said that Cunningham played a key part in developing the plan.

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com