Football

Prep mailbag: Debut edition tackles the age-old question, ‘Will private and public schools ever be separated in the playoffs?’

Welcome to the Bay Area News Group’s debut edition of the prep sports mailbag.

We’re here to answer what’s on your mind.

Got questions about spring sports playoffs, coaching changes, an early peek at football season, etc.? Send them to highschools@bayareanewsgroup.com. Please include “mailbag” in the subject line.

Let’s get started:

Seeing the manner in which private schools dominate, do you think the Central Coast Section should investigate the possibility of creating separate public and private championships? – GR from the South Bay

Should it look into it or will it look into it, GR?

Serra’s Patrick Walsh, one of the deans among Bay Area football coaches, is on record saying that private and public schools should have their own championships.

Makes sense.

While some public schools have open enrollments within their districts, the bottom line is private schools have no boundaries. They can attract student-athletes from two or three counties away if that athlete’s family is willing to make the commute.

That’s not to say public schools cannot compete.

But it’s awfully difficult.

The last public school to go through the CCS football playoffs by winning a division filled with mostly private schools was Oak Grove, in 2015.

That was a long time ago.

Let’s look at the recent history of the CCS football playoffs. The West Catholic Athletic League champion or runner-up has won major CCS titles in each of the past five playoff seasons.

But because of how the section sets up its playoffs, oftentimes the top bracket has mostly private-school powers, opening the door for public schools to capture titles in other divisions.

Since 2017, public schools have won 14 CCS football championships, three more than the section’s private schools.

In basketball, private schools have won all 10 CCS Open Division championships in both the boys and girls playoffs since the top bracket was added in 2013.

Do you think it would be a good idea to separate the public and private schools in sports competitions in California? – Curly

Not all private schools are cut from the same cloth. Serra and De La Salle are not the same, at least in football, as Salesian or Moreau Catholic.

But not all public schools are Folsom, the Sac-Joaquin Section powerhouse that has split four football games against De La Salle the past two seasons.

I’d hate to see a system implemented that would deprive teams such as Folsom or let’s say Dougherty Valley in boys basketball this past season from playing against the best teams, no matter if they’re public or private.

Maybe the solution is as simple as separation with the option to move up into the best-of-the-best bracket.

Do I see any of this happening?

Nope.

Will the different sections in California ever start playing by the same rules? It’s particularly noticeable during playoffs, where the sections all seem to have different formats. – Curly

Curly, unless you know something we don’t, the answer is no. They will not start playing by the same rules anytime soon.

While the California Interscholastic Federation has state bylaws in place, each of the 10 sections that operate under the CIF umbrella has its own bylaws that can vary from the state rules.

That complicates matters for anyone who dares to follow the inner workings of California high school sports across the state. As those who have made the attempt know, just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the bylaws change.

If we had a voice at the table, here is what we’d like to see:

– Start dates for practice and games should be identical for everyone. We shouldn’t have Southern California basketball teams practicing and playing games in the fall while teams in the North wait for practice to start in early November. As we’ve heard many times, how can these teams play for the same state championships if they’re not playing by the same rules?

– Make transfers public on section and/or state CIF websites. We know that it is not one size fits all when it comes to student-athletes moving from one school to another. Families do move. We get that. But it would be nice to know that School A has 10 transfers on its football team and five more on its basketball team.

What’s the latest on a restructuring of the CCS football and basketball playoff formats? – Rick Stubblefield

Rick, there are no major format changes proposed in basketball, according to the CCS website.

But there will be changes to the top division in the section’s football playoffs.

As we reported last month, the eight teams that qualify will be placed in the Open/Division I bracket, which will send two teams to the CIF 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

If this format sounds familiar, here is why:

The neighboring North Coast Section has used it for the past two seasons.

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