Mission Viejo returns to the CIF-Southern Section’s top football playoffs division this fall.
That was among many changes that are part of a restructuring of playoff groupings in the Southern Section, the governing body of high school sports for Orange County and most of Southern California.
The CIF-SS office announced its fall sports playoff groupings today.
Many CIF-SS team sports were under a system by which playoff teams from the same league were in the same playoff division. Beginning this fall, teams will be placed in divisions according to power-point profiles based on regular-season and playoff performance over the previous two school years.
Each sport has a power-points formula specific to that sport. Among the differences, some sports placed more weight on 2015 vs. 2014 results. The importance of playoff performance over regular-season results differed.
CIF-SS member schools approved the new system in January. Winter and spring sports playoff groupings will be announced later. Adjustments could occur in the fall sports groupings if corrected information is submitted to the CIF-SS office.
Mission Viejo won the CIF-SS West Valley Division football championship in 2014 and ‘15. The West Valley Division is what used to be called Division 2. The Pac-5 Division, which included Mission Viejo in previous seasons, is what was called Division 1; Friday’s CIF-SS announcement used numbers and the quasi-geographic names in describing the divisions.
Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson, who once said he would consider boycotting playoff games if the Diablos returned to the top division, is not happy that his team is in Division 1 again but that they would make the most of it. Johnson said public schools like Mission Viejo should not be in playoff divisions with private schools.
Ten of the 18 Division 1 schools are private schools including all six Trinity League schools. One of the other eight public school teams in football’s Division 1 is Tesoro, like Mission Viejo a South Coast League team.
“We’re a public school of 2,300 students,” Johnson said. “Our student-athletes have to live within our attendance boundaries. That does not go hand-in-hand with most of the teams we’re going to be playing against in the playoffs.”
Johnson said he does not mind Mission Viejo playing private schools as long as that is Mission Viejo’s choice. The Diablos scheduled the Trinity League’s Santa Margarita for the 2016 season opener.
“I have no problem playing private schools,” he said. “They’re wonderful and anybody who wants to go to a private school should do so if that’s their choice. But we don’t belong in a division with those schools.”
In all sports except football, the number of playoff representatives from each league will not change. After guaranteed entries are placed into their playoff division brackets, at-large teams will be selected to fill any openings in the brackets. In football, league champions will be given first priority followed by second-place teams and then third-place teams in the division.
Football will continue to have 16-team brackets. There are 18 teams in what Friday’s announcement alternately called Division 1 and the Pac-5 Division, and there are 18 in Division 2/West Valley Division. There will be room for at-large teams in those and other divisions this fall.
Teams that did not finish high enough in their league standings to receive guaranteed berths in the playoffs can petition for at-large berth consideration. A team does not have to finish with a .500 or better overall record to be eligible for an at-large berth. There would be first-round byes if not enough teams submit at-large petitions to fill a bracket.
In girls volleyball, 17 of the 32 schools in Division 1 are Orange County schools. In girls tennis, 16 of the 39 Division 1 schools are O.C. schools. In boys water polo, eight of the 16 Division 1 schools are O.C. schools.
Among the many features of the football power-points formula is that a team acquires more points for a CIF-SS playoff win in a higher division than it would be a playoff win in a lower division. Later-round wins are worth more points than early-round wins, and again a win in an upper-division championship game is worth more than a win in a lower-division championship game.
Football teams that experienced dramatic divisional movement include Dana Hills, which was moved from Division 2 to Division 10. Fountain Valley went from Division 2 last year to Division 5 this year.
Division XIII football was mostly a group of smaller private schools since the division’s creation. This fall’s Division XIII roster includes Orange County public schools Ocean View, Godinez, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Santiago, Costa Mesa, Magnolia, Laguna Beach, Orange, Savanna, La Quinta, Century and Bolsa Grande.
Edison moved from Division 2 to Division 3. Buena Park moved from Division 4 to Division 3.