HS Football: New playoff divisions approved as questions of a fall season remain

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The CIF Southern Section Council met recently to approve a plan to establish playoff divisions based on the current season’s results. Valley News/David Canales photo

High school football fans remain hopeful that a season will take place in the 2020-2021 school year as a new playoff system for football divisions gained final approval from the CIF Southern Section Council recently. The future of football and other fall sports was addressed during the council’s teleconference meeting and the outlook was understandably uncertain because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“All options are on the table for fall sports,” Rob Wigod, CIF-SS commissioner, said. “We are going to continue to explore options that we can bring back fall sports in the way that we expect them to be brought back. We are not in any haste to take things off the board or to cancel things or to end our season as we had to do so terribly (in the) spring.

“Officials at the CIF are trying to keep as many different options open and available for them to bring some normalcy back.

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During the recent CIF Southern Section Council teleconference meeting, the future of football and other fall sports was addressed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/AC Sports photo

“Once (schools) are open and begin the academic year, they are also going to have decisions to make about when to bring practices back for their athletic teams,” Wigod said. “Our task, and our huge challenge, will be to keep track of that, to monitor that throughout our section, so that at some point, we would be able to implement a calendar that would have regular season and championship competition.”

For the next football season, the council overwhelming approved a plan to establish playoff divisions based on the current season’s results. At the end of the regular season, power rankings from CalPreps.com will be used to place all automatic qualifiers and potential at-large entries across 14 divisions. The brackets would continue to feature 16 teams and would be seeded according to the power rankings, regardless of league affiliation or league finish.

The proposal passed Thursday, May 28, by an 80-4-6 vote and continued the section’s movement toward injecting competitive equity into the playoffs.

But will football teams experience the new playoff format in the fall or perhaps later in the school year?

Many Orange County school districts have set start dates for school to open in August, according to the Orange County Department of Education. The decision on whether to open with students on campus or to continue with distance learning will be made by the districts, Ian Hanigan, chief communications officer for the department, said.

“My hunch is that we’re not playing anytime soon,” Cypress football coach Rick Feldman said Thursday. “The hope, and the prayer, is that we can play as soon as possible.”

The council also approved to set divisions in swimming based on NISCA power points. Boys’ and girls’ teams could be placed in different divisions.

In other action by the council, the section’s proposed budget for 2020-2021 was approved by a near unanimous vote. The only dissenting vote came from the Trinity League, which also voted not to support the proposed CIF State budget for 2020-2021.

The section and state budgets called for small pay raises to be considered by the economic climate. The Southern Section also is slightly increasing sports fees to $75 from $65.

For more information visit http://www.cifss.org.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.