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Upsets compound seeding puzzle

10/26/2013, 8:48pm PDT
By John Maffei

With two weeks left in regular season, some playoff teams will be lacking credentials.


Madison's quarterback Kareem Coles stiff arms Eastlake's Mathieu Lao in the 2nd quarter as Madison High School hosted Eastlake High School in prep football Friday night.

There is a reason the San Diego Section football seeding committee doesn't vote on the playoff pairings before the seventh week of the regular season.

Too many unpredictable things can happen before season's end.

Take last Friday's games for example. It was a night that blurred the playoff picture with three Top-10 teams, including No. 1-ranked San Pasqual, losing.

In the eight-team Open Division, seven of the eight teams won Friday. So six of the teams - Mission Hills (7-1), Eastlake (7-1), Oceanside (6-2), Helix (6-2), La Costa Canyon (6-2) and Torrey Pines (6-2) have at least six wins.

Oceanside hosts La Costa Canyon on Friday in a game that could go a long way in determining the No. 1 seed.

"This game was for pride, now we start playing for seeding and a league championship," said Oceanside coach John Carroll after his No. 4-ranked Pirates beat No. 6 Ramona 42-0.

The top seed in the Open Division will probably play Steele Canyon (2-6). The second seed will get Poway (3-5).

Neither, Poway nor Steele Canyon should be in the Open Division, but a flawed playoff format based on a team's record over the last three seasons, dictates they are.

In Division I, San Pasqual (7-1), Cathedral Catholic (6-2), Ramona (7-1) and Grossmont (7-1) figured to be the top four seeds. But San Pasqual, Cathedral Catholic and Ramona all lost Friday, bringing Carlsbad and Olympian into the mix for a top-four seed and a first-round bye.

Olympian could make a statement Friday with a win over Eastlake.

Record-wise, Imperial (8-0), Mission Bay (7-1), El Capitan (7-1), and Madison (7-1) would be the top-four seeds in Division II. But Rancho Buena Vista (6-2) beat top-ranked San Pasqual last Friday and hosts Mission Hills this week. Plus, St. Augustine (6-2) beat archrival and No. 5-ranked Cathedral Catholic. So the seeding committee will have to look beyond just records.

In Division III, Francis Parker (8-0), Hilltop (7-1) and Christian (7-1) are in the running for the top-three seeds.

But Hoover (6-2), Santa Fe Christian (5-3), which finishes the season Nov. 8 against Parker, and San Marcos (6-2) are in the mix. Santa Fe Christian and San Marcos have played the tougher schedules.

Division IV is a complete mess. La Jolla Country Day (5-3), Castle Park (4-4) and Central (4-4) could have staked claims to a top-four seed, but all lost last Friday.

So Tri-City Christian (5-3), Monte Vista (4-4), Sweetwater (4-4) and Montgomery (4-4) are very much in the picture.

Surprising Crawford (8-0) is the unquestioned No. 1 seed in Division V. Holtville (6-2) is probably No. 2.

The final two weeks of the season will determine the rest of the seeds.

Remember, this is the first season of the Open Division, which in theory features the county's top eight teams.

No longer are the other divisions determined strictly by size of the schools. Instead, divisions are supposed to be determined by competitive balance.

So big schools like Rancho Buena Vista with nearly 3,000 students are in a division with schools like Mission Bay, Madison, Imperial, El Capitan and St. Augustine, which are about half RBV's size.

And it's why big schools like Granite Hills and Bonita Vista are in with mighty mites like Parker, Bishop's, Christian and Santa Fe Christian.

And it's why Divisions IV and V are a mess.

john.maffei@utsandiego.com

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