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Christian sues over division placement

12/03/2013, 8:15pm PST
By Steve Brand, Special to the U-T

State issue will be moot if Patriots don’t defeat San Marcos for section D-III title.

Paris Miller makes a catch in Christian's playoff win over Hilltop.

Christian High and the governing bodies for high school sports in San Diego and the state are looking at the same state regional football playoff format but interpreting it differently.

Hoping to get a decision before the Patriots play San Marcos for the section Division III championship Saturday night at Mesa College, Christian has filed a lawsuit against the California Interscholastic Federation and the CIF’s San Diego Section.

“We’re not trying to create problems. In fact, we want a decision on this before Sunday when they select the teams in case this situation does come up,” said David Beezer, athletic director at Christian, whose enrollment is under 400. “Better to decide before the selection than challenge it afterward.”

The wording that Christian says opens the door for the Patriots to compete against smaller schools in Division IV of the state regional playoffs is at the bottom of the division breakdown that says, “If a Division III Section Champion is within the DIV enrollment parameters of 1-500, they will be moved to that division for Bowl Game consideration.”

John Labeta, the San Diego Section assistant commissioner, counters that the same list showing the section Division III champion being considered for participation in Division II at the state level is very clear.

“It is written in the state football playoff format that the San Diego Section champions in Divisions II and III will participate in the state playoffs in Division II,” said Labeta.

He also noted that there is a clause that if there are no schools with enrollments between 1-500 that win a section title, the smallest remaining DIII school would become the DIV representative.

That could still happen for Christian, though there are schools still alive in postseason play in the Southern, Central and Los Angeles sections that would fit the criteria for Division IV.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact criteria used for defining the state bowl divisions don’t match criteria used for placing teams in divisions among the CIF’s 10 sections.

The question, Beezer acknowledges, will be moot unless Christian defeats San Marcos and wins the section Division III championship.

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