By Vytas Mazeika
SAN JOSE — Virtually every football coach in attendance for the Central Coast Section seeding meeting Sunday bolted out the front door as the playoff brackets were being announced.
So began the era of competitive equity as analytics ruled at the CCS offices.
Last year, the top 24 teams were split into a trio of Open Divisions based on enrollment, with three CCS champions and two runners-up advancing to the state playoffs.
Division IV and V winners saw their seasons end at that point.
Now the only way to earn a shot at a state trophy requires a CCS title. Using an intricate point system based on calprep.com computer rankings and CCS power points, seven at-large teams and 33 automatic qualifiers were assigned to eight-team brackets.
The top eight teams were slotted in Division I, the next eight in Division II and so on through Division V.
Once the matchups became official, coaches fled to their cars to watch film and form game plans.
Here are five things we learned:
Hit or miss? Did the system work?
After the numbers were crunched and motions kept passing without any objections, CCS assistant commissioner Steve Filios put his Excel skills into good use and ranked the top 40 teams.
But even then, tiebreakers were needed.
Half Moon Bay, Los Gatos and Salinas finished with the same amount of points. One would receive the not-so-popular eighth seed in Division I, the other two would nab the top two spots in Division II.
The first tiebreaker was head-to-head. None of the teams had played each other. The second tiebreaker was common opponents, but there were none of those either.
So the third tiebreaker was the calpreps.com ranking. Half Moon Bay had the highest, so it was assigned to Division I and will play Serra, the top overall seed.
Los Gatos, meanwhile, is the No. 1 seed in Division II, followed by Salinas.
“I was sure of the points that we had, and I wasn’t sure of the other teams that we tied with,” Los Gatos coach Mark Krail said. “I scouted Serra yesterday thinking that we might play them, so that’s kind of the unknown factor of it, right? You go where you’re told based on the system and I think the system worked.
“I think if people look at the brackets, there’s going to be great games, and I think this system brings back the importance of our section playoffs as opposed to NorCals.”
Saratoga coach Tim Lugo, a co-chair at the meeting, pointed out how the playoff situation was changing even in the last weekend of play.
“You had the late game last night that determined Division III and Division IV for the most part,” said Lugo, referring to Seaside’s 29-23, three-overtime win over Monte Vista Christian. “You had some upsets during the week.
“Final weekend of the season, anything can happen. It was an interesting format. We’ll see how it goes,” he added. “You look at the matchups and I think the games are a lot more competitive this year than in years past.”
As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
“We’ll see based on the results,” St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said. “But I think we did a pretty good job of putting folks in the right divisions.”
Silver Creek first team left out
One team that didn’t like the new system was Silver Creek.
The Raiders upset previously undefeated Branham 16-8 on Friday and clinched a tri-championship in the Blossom Valley Athletic League’s Santa Teresa Division with Branham and Overfelt.
But those two teams received the two automatic bids from the division, a “B” league, and Silver Creek was left to try to grab one of the seven at-large spots.
Carmel had 21.5 points and received the final bid. Silver Creek was right behind with 20.83.
“I knew it was a new playoff system that they are going off. I wasn’t very happy about it.” Silver Creek coach Aaron Noriega said. “I do understand the strength of the schedule, but if you are a co-champion of the league, what I think you should do is take somebody that barely got in. I think that anybody that is a league champion or co-champion should immediately replace those schools.”