Football playoff alignments up in the air to the end

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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LODI — Enrollment figures for the 2011-12 school year have been released, and while football teams have an idea which division they’ll be in for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, the verdict won’t be in until the regular season ends.

Teams need a minimum of six wins overall and two in league play to qualify for the playoffs. The top 16 teams, based on enrollment, will be placed in the Division I playoffs, and so on down the line.

In the Sierra Foothill League, Nevada Union is 17th in enrollment with 2,349 students. Granite Bay is 29th (2,173), Woodcreek 32nd (2,099) and Roseville 37th (2,035). The cutoff between the Division I and II playoffs last season fell between Lodi (35th, 2,039) and Stockton-Bear Creek (36th, 2,036). There are 194 schools in the section.

Will DeBoard, the section’s director of communications, said during a Media Day gathering Wednesday the cutoff between each division could vary from six to eight slots either way from last year. That means Granite Bay, Woodcreek and Roseville could end up in Divisions I or II.

DeBoard said bubble teams “could be playing in one of two divisions and probably will not know until the season is over. We have a decent idea around week 9½ I guess.”

Section officials also discussed regional playoff dates, new rules in effect for the 2011-12 year, including a mercy rule for football games, others that are up for a vote and proposals for changes in postseason qualification requirements for basketball and volleyball.

Section championship football games are held in early December and CIF State Bowl Games two weeks later. Beginning next year, the week between will feature Northern California regional playoffs to determine representatives in the State Bowl Games.

“Last year, you could have seen Pleasant Grove playing De La Salle in the open game or maybe Folsom-De La Salle,” DeBoard said.

Also this season, football games will use a mercy rule. Games will move to a running clock if the margin reaches 35 points in the fourth quarter.

Other items:

* If approved in a vote, a new rule would bump up volleyball, basketball and cross country teams one division if they win three section titles in a row or show continued success.

* In 2012-13, any basketball team that wins at least 15 games and doesn’t qualify for the playoffs based on the power rating system would receive a berth and an outbracket game.

Ponderosa went 18-9 overall last season but finished fourth in the Delta River League and didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

* Also next year, any volleyball team finishing the regular season with at least a .500 record will qualify for the playoffs.

“It helps the leagues that are getting shortchanged,” section Commissioner Pete Saco said.

* The section and Sacramento State University have “agreed in terms” on a new three-year deal to keep the section final football games at Hornet Field, according to Saco.

* The Masters track and field meet will be held at Elk Grove High School after being held in recent years at Hughes Stadium.

* The section is creating a Community Service Award to go with its A. Dale Lacky Scholarships, Model Coach and Hall of Fame. Saco said each league would forward to the section office its best community service project. Winners would be selected in the fall, winter and spring seasons.

Winners would receive a banner “and maybe a little bit of money,” said Saco, who picked up the concept from New York schools, using as examples a wrestling team that cut lawns on Saturdays at a senior center and another team that performed service with the armed forces. “We’re trying to tie in schools with communities. We’re trying to get our kids to understand the importance of community service and doing it as a team. We’ll try it and see what happens.”