Prep football: Changes coming to next season’s CCS playoffs

The format for the Central Coast Section’s top division in next season’s football playoffs will be identical to that of the neighboring North Coast Section.

The eight teams that qualify will be placed in the Open/Division I bracket, which will send two teams to the California Interscholastic Federation regional and/or state championship games.

Here is how it works:

Week 1 of the playoffs

Game 1: Seed No. 1 vs. Seed No. 8

Game 2: Seed No. 2 vs. Seed No. 7

Game 3: Seed No. 3 vs. Seed No. 6

Game 4: Seed No. 4 vs. Seed No. 5

Week 2

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner for the section’s Open Division championship

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Week 3

Game 7: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 winner for the section’s Division I championship

The CCS Board of Managers voted on Wednesday to approve the format change, which has been used in the NCS for the past two seasons, with De La Salle capturing the Open title and Pittsburg the Division I championship both years.

Here is how the CCS’s top division would have looked if the format had been in place last season:

Week 1

Game 1: No. 8 Palma at No. 1 Serra

Game 2: No. 7 Sacred Heart Cathedral at No. 2 St. Francis

Game 3: No. 6 Archbishop Mitty at No. 3 Los Gatos

Game 4: No. 5 Sacred Heart Prep at No. 4 Salinas

Week 2

Game 5: No. 2 St. Francis at No. 1 Serra for the Open title

Game 6: No. 6 Archbishop Mitty at No. 4 Salinas

Week 3

Game 7: Not determined.

The rationale for the move was for an additional CCS team (six in all) to advance beyond the section playoffs and that two of the six would come from the section’s strongest division.

The Board of Managers also approved changes to the manner in which the Peninsula Athletic League distributes its automatic playoff bids.

Because the PAL wants to place its top six teams into the Bay Division for competitive equity reasons, it requested that the CCS allow that division to receive five automatic qualifiers and drop the league’s De Anza Division to three.

Last season, both had four AQs.

The Board of Managers’ approval means the PAL, which merged for football with the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League last season, can put the likes of Los Gatos, Wilcox, Sacred Heart Prep, Menlo-Atherton, Burlingame and Mountain View into the top division without the fear of losing a shot at the playoffs.

Wilcox coach Paul Rosa, who drew up the proposal for the format change, told the Bay Area News Group in January, “Everybody wants to play competitive games during the season, I think. No matter if you’re really good or really bad, you just like to be in competitive games, and we just weren’t in those.

“If you’re really having five divisions, that’s the whole reason why we merged, to try to have apples with apples, oranges with oranges. I think this is the way it should have been done and most people agreed.”

The Board of Managers did not approve a proposal to put only “A” league teams in the top three divisions and leave the bottom two divisions for “B” and “C” league teams.

Under the proposal, four of the section’s five at-large spots would have gone to “A” league teams.

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