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Cheerleading a CIF sport starting 2017-18
Baseball playoffs moving to enrollment-based format
PREP--SJS Media Day file pic
Sierra High cheerleaders perform during halftime of the football teams Valley Oak League game against East Union on Sept. 30, 2016. - photo by Bulletin file photo

LODI — From competitive cheerleading to enrollment-based baseball playoffs, there are many changes coming down the pike concerning prep sports in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. 

In the annual SJS media luncheon on Thursday, section Assistant Commissioner Will DeBoard laid out the details of what is to come, and one of the most significant is that of the classification of cheerleading not to just one sport, but two. 

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, traditional competitive cheer will be in the winter and consist of cheerleading squads being scored on their routines. Competitive sport cheer takes over in the spring and those sessions will consist of four quarters, with each quarter counting toward the overall score. Section championships are to be awarded for each sport. 

Other items discussed:

uAlmost all the playoffs for team sports have evolved to an enrollment-based format, and now baseball has taken the plunge. The postseason overhaul begins in the spring with, in most cases, enrollment determining the division for all teams — certain provisions are made for teams with prior success — and the playoffs will be single elimination until the semifinals when the bracket changes to a double-elimination format.

There will no longer be North and South division in Divisions I, and with only 16 teams in D-I some teams that would have traditionally been D-I will now be D II, some D-II teams may be bumped down to D-III and so on. 

uFootball will see some changes and a potential change. While the playoffs will still have seven divisions, now all seven divisions will be enrollment-based where in the past the D-VII schools were determined by league placement. 

The SJS is the last section in the state to allow 14-year-olds to play varsity football, but as with the other sections, the parents, the school and a physician must sign off on it.

In the Oct. 8, meeting of the CIF State Federation Council a vote will be taken to change the tie-breaker for state playoff games from the current first down at the 10-yard line to first down at the 25. If passed, this change would not be implemented until the 2018 season and the individual sections would have the option of changing to the new method or keeping the old. 

uFollowing last year’s winter beset by torrential rain, there will be a vote taken at the Oct. 4 SJS Board of Managers meeting to return soccer from boys and girls in the winter to boys in the fall and girls in the spring. The consolidation of the two passed by a ratio of approximately 3-2, and a close vote is expected again. 

As long as soccer remains in the winter, it will be part of the state playoff system. Soccer, along with basketball and volleyball, will have competitive equity as the basis for NorCal playoff seeding, with the SJS Division the team competed in having no bearing on the state seeding. 

For instance, a D-III team by enrollment that beat up on opponents all year could find itself in the Open Division, whereas a weaker D-I team by enrollment that barely squeaked into a NorCal berth could find itself in Division III at the state level. 

uWith Sleep Train Arena no longer an option and Capital One Arena showing no interest in hosting the SJS basketball playoffs, postseason events will return to Spanos Center at the University of the Pacific again this season, but only the finals will be held there. Up to and including the semifinals will be at home sites.

uThere will be four SJS teams from water polo make it to NorCals and eight from soccer made up of the three section champions and D I runner-up in water polo and the seven section champions and D I runner up in soccer. 

uTwo teams will be presented with the SJS Community Service award in the spring and at the end of the year the Commissioner’s Cup will be presented to the most successful school as determined by SJS championships, SJS runner-up finishes, state bowl berths, etc.

uThere will be a change in the SJS Cross Country championships from Saturday to Friday with the date this year on Friday, Nov. 10, and on Saturday, Nov. 11 the SJS girls volleyball championships will be played at two venues — St. Francis in Sacramento and Gregori in Modesto. 

uThe Divisonal and Masters golf championships have typically been a week apart on Mondays, but this season, due to a scheduling conflict at The Reserve in Stockton, the Divisionals will be at various venues on Monday, May 7, 2018, with the Masters that Friday, May 11. 

uThe sit-out periods for approved transfers have been calendar-driven in the past. That has changed this year to reflect a period of 50 percent of each sport’s season.