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Section tweaks original playoff proposal

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Section tweaks original playoff proposal

This is how the Division III and IV football playoff brackets would have looked this past fall under the proposed postseason format.

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POSTED February 5, 2009 4:28 a.m.
The Sac-Joaquin Section’s playoff committee made a few changes to its original postseason football proposal that was revealed Jan. 9.

In the original plan, divisions would be combined — Division I and II, then III and IV, for example — with 20 automatic qualifiers (10 conference champions, 10 runner-ups) and 12 at-large bids. The 16 schools with the largest enrollment of the pool would make up the Division I bracket, and the rest would be placed in Division II. The same process would apply to Divisions III and IV.

Seeds and at-large qualifiers would be determined by a proposed criterion that includes total number of regular-season wins (teams must win at least two league games to be considered), league standing, head-to-head competition and combined wins of all opponents.

Among the changes are:

• The 20 league champions from Divisions I through IV along with the 20 second-place teams earn automatic bids.

• Twenty four other teams earn at-large berths to complete a pool of 64 teams, which would then be divided into the four divisions based on enrollment. There will hence be no separation between Divisions II and III.

• The Division IV bracket would be broken up into two, with the “IV-A” side consisting of the eight largest schools in the 16-team field. The winners of each bracket will ultimately meet for the Division IV section championship.

• A team may be placed one division lower than its league placement, but only one. For example, Stockton powerhouse St. Mary’s is a Division III school that competes in the Division I Tri-City Athletic League. In the playoffs, St. Mary’s would play in Division II.

If passed, the new playoff system would be a welcomed change to many.

Under the current format, each league is allotted a predetermined number of postseason berths to fill out eight-team brackets in Divisions IV and V, where the six area schools compete for football, soccer, softball and baseball.

The current system has been used for years by the section, but it has led to problems.

The two best teams aren’t guaranteed to start the playoffs on opposite ends of the bracket, sometimes leading to first-round match-ups between the tournament’s favorites.

There have also been cases of lesser teams qualifying over more deserving teams. This past fall, Manteca High enjoyed a successful season overall, finishing 8-2 while ending up third in the always-tough Valley Oak League.

But the Buffaloes did not make the playoffs. Instead, Foothill of Sacramento of the Capital Valley Conference got in despite going 2-8.

“More teams would be good,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “We’d be in a great, competitive bracket with great matchups all the way through, so if you win a section title it would be even more special.”

The playoff proposal coincides with the section’s realignment plan. The next realignment meeting is on March 17 at Elk Horn Country Club. The realignment of leagues would take into effect in 2010, but the football playoff system could be implemented as soon as next season.
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