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Fryer: New twists for the football playoffs

STAFF COLUMNIST

A new playoff system is in place this school year for many CIF-Southern Section sports.

Teams have been placed into divisions according to a formula that evaluates them by their regular-season record, strength of schedule and performance in CIF-SS playoffs over the previous two years. Rankings points are assessed to each team via that system. Evaluations and division placements will be done every year.

It is somewhat similar to what has been going on for a few years in boys and girls basketball.

As in most sports, teams receive guaranteed playoff berths if they are among the top two finishers in four-team leagues, among the top three in five- and six-team leagues, or among the top four in seven- and eight-team leagues.

Because teams are placed in divisions according to their past-performance profiles, a league’s playoff teams might not be in the same playoff division. For example, in Sunset League girls volleyball, if Edison, Fountain Valley and Marina are the league’s playoff representatives, Edison would go to the Division 1 playoffs, Fountain Valley would go to Division 2 and Marina would be in Division 3 because their past-performance profiles give them different rankings points totals.

Football is different.

League champions will first be placed into playoff divisions. If there is room for more teams in a bracket, then leagues’ No. 2 teams will be placed into playoff divisions. If room in a division’s 16-team bracket still exists, then No. 3 teams are placed, and if room for more still remains then at-large teams, which must finish .500 or better overall, get playoff berths.

The number of teams in football playoff divisions varies. Divisions 1 and 2 have 18 teams – and considering they have 16-team brackets the chances of your favorite Division 1 or 2 team getting into the playoffs might be good. The largest division is Division 13, with 84 schools.

The CIF-SS has done away with those quasi-geographical names for football divisions. The best 11-man football division is called, like it was several years ago, Division 1, the next-best is Division 2, down to Division 13. (There are two 8-man football playoff divisions.)

It was always bizarre that Brethren Christian, which is in Huntington Beach, was in the East Valley Division, while Great Oak of Temecula was in the West Valley Division.

Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

• Portola, a new public school that opened this school year, will have freshman teams only in many sports, including football. For football, the Bulldogs will have freshman and junior varsity teams in 2017 and will play their first varsity season in ’18. Their football coach is Peter Abe, who has been an assistant at Villa Park and at his alma mater, Irvine.

Trent McDuffie was on the Mater Dei freshman football team last year. He transferred to Santa Margarita, where Coach Rich Fisher said McDuffie showed flashes of greatness during the summer. McDuffie then transferred to Servite, where his potential eligibility was being examined by the CIF-SS office in recent weeks, but McDuffie might not be at Servite this school year. We’re still working on where he will be this season.

Evan Battey, a first-team All-County basketball player last season as a junior at Villa Park, has been declared ineligible this coming season. Battey repeated ninth grade at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. With his two freshman years and his sophomore year at LACES plus his junior year at Villa Park, the CIF-SS informed Battey that he expended his eight semesters of athletic eligibility.

• Edison alum and gold medal-winning swimmer Tom Shields will be Edison football’s honorary captain Saturday when the Chargers play Tesoro at Huntington Beach High.

• We keep hearing that Canyon football coach Mike Ogas would be a leading candidate to replace Dave White as Edison’s coach if Ogas pursues it. White plans to retire after this season. Ogas played and coached at Edison. Edison has good candidates on staff now.

• Former El Modena boys basketball coach Ryan Schmidt accepted the coaching position at San Pasqual High in San Diego County. Schmidt also has been an assistant coach at El Dorado and Dana Hills.

• The helmets of Trabuco Hills football players have a decal with the number 52 on them. That was the uniform number of Markus Nakamura, a Trabuco Hills lineman who died this summer from a pulmonary embolism. Nakamura would have been a senior this school year.

• Correction for an error in our preview of the Tesoro-Edison game Saturday: Former Tesoro quarterback Devon Modster is at UCLA, not at Arizona. Modster had committed to Arizona, then changed to UCLA just before national letter-of-intent signing day.

• The Cox cable TV system that covers much of south O.C. no longer will televise high school football games. Fox Sports’ Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West Prep Zone will televise a game each week and will live stream many others. CASportsZone.com carries live internet radio broadcasts of O.C. football games.

• Baseball pitchers will be limited by pitch counts per week beginning with this coming spring. Pitchers had been allowed 30 outs a week. How the CIF state organization will apply the National Federation rule – the number of pitches a week or game, any required rests between pitching stints – is to be determined.

• JSerra third baseman Royce Lewis rolled like a Rolls Royce this summer. He was chosen MVP of the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago and was MVP of the Perfect Game All-American Game in San Diego. Lewis, who committed to UC Irvine, is a senior this school year.

• An early 2017 Major League Baseball draft projection has Lewis being picked at No. 34 in the first round. (Which team is at No. 34 depends upon this season’s final standings; the guess here is the Angels will draft higher than No. 34.) Those draft projections, by MinorLeagueBall.com, also have Huntington Beach pitcher Hagen Danner as the No. 6 overall pick and Dana Hills pitcher Hans Crouse as the No. 13 selection. Danner committed to UCLA, Crouse to USC.

• San Juan Capistrano’s 17-and-under American Legion team, with a bunch of Capistrano Valley High players on it, won the American Legion State Tournament this month in Yountville.

Mike Bair, who coached Laguna Beach to a CIF-SS baseball championship this past spring, resigned as Breakers coach. He is going to remain a teacher in the Laguna Beach district and will be an assistant baseball coach at Foothill.

• Mission Viejo’s football team has 37 uniform variations. My wife is jealous.

Contact the writer: sfryer@scng.com


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