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Section Stands Firm on Football Playoff Structure


BUENA PARK — Despite a flurry of protests, the Southern Section Council will not change any playoff pairings for the 1994 football season.

Representatives from Divisions IV, VI, IX, and X sought restructuring of their leagues before the playoffs begin next month. But at the meeting at the Sequoia Athletic Club Thursday, the appeals were rejected by the voting body.

That still did not answer the question of whether low enrollment schools can realistically compete with larger ones. At least not for those making the appeals.

Jeff Chandler, principal at Agoura Oak Park and representing the Tri-Valley League, argued that the top five teams in the De Anza League average 934 students in enrollment, while the top five teams in his league average 531 students. "It doesn't make sense for the Tri-Valley schools to be in a higher (division)," Chandler said.

But the Southern Section is historically leery of making such changes in mid-season. And, as Carpinteria Athletic Director Jim Bashore later said, "The bigger schools don't care. They've got enough kids that they can say, 'Bring on anybody, and don't bother us with your problems.' "

Ray Plutko, principal at Temple City, will head a committee to look at designing regional playoff groupings, a plan the Southern Section would not implement next season. The committee will begin work next week.

Plutko, who attended Thursday's meeting, wants to believe he will take the ideas expressed and incorporate them into the committee's eventual report. But he is realistic about what faces his group.

"It's like when you drop a pebble in a pond," Plutko said. "The further out you go, the fewer the schools of equitable size. We have to find a way to keep equitable competition among them. That's the real challenge.

"But they wouldn't have formed the committee if they didn't think there was any way to improve the system."


Southern Section Commissioner Dean Crowley said the rule against fighting--which was further refined before the season--has been responsible for about 11 ejections per week. "That's at all levels of football," Crowley said. "Maybe one or so is in water polo, but more than 90% have been football." The rule, invoked last year to restore a degree of sportsmanship, states that in the opinion of any official, if any flagrant foul is deemed to be a fight, the fighting penalty is evoked. This can include but is not exclusive to an attempt to strike an opponent with the arms, hands, legs or feet, or a combative action by one or more players.

Crowley said officials weren't calling the penalty much last year but are this season since the rule was clarified. "Officials have better understanding (of the rule) and so do coaches," Crowley said. "Eleven sounds like a lot, but it isn't when you consider we have a lot of programs going."

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