Centennial wide receiver Ricky Marvray puts a hand up to block De La Salle's… (Los Angeles Times )
It's appalling that the CIF Federated Council voted to approve regional football bowl games in Southern and Northern California starting in 2012, setting the stage for some high school teams to play an astounding 16 games from mid-August through final exams in mid-December.
The Council ignored the opinion of the Southern Section, made up of more than 580 high schools. Southern Section representatives were opposed to the idea, fearing the football season would become too long and athletes who wanted to play more than one sport would face too many obstacles in time and coaching constraints.
Now the football season is set to begin in 2012 in high temperatures. Semifinal playoff games will take place Thanksgiving weekend. Section finals will be Nov. 30 or Dec. 1. Regional finals will be Dec. 7-8. The state bowl championships will be Dec. 14-15. And somebody hopes to make lots of money, because that's the only reason to add regional bowl games.
The same teams that have been reaching the state bowl games will be chosen for regional games. Yes, it might be fun to watch Anaheim Servite playing Corona Centennial for the chance to play Concord De La Salle. But who will care about a Servite-De La Salle matchup or a Centennial-De La Salle final when the teams and their fans are exhausted after 15 weeks of games?
Somebody wants California to be like Texas, where one high school is building a $60-million stadium and where fans spend Friday nights worshipping their teams.
Well, there's a reason we live in California. We cherish our diverse interests and want many options for our free time. We love football, but we also love basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, golf, track, tennis. We don't like people telling us what to do. That's why there's no NFL team in Los Angeles. We don't believe in giving away millions of dollars in tax money to build a football stadium.
Even more stunning is that the City Section voted in favor of regional football bowl games, the same section whose L.A. Unified School District schools are cutting coaching stipends in football from six to four. With teacher layoffs looming and more top students choosing private over public, the chances of a City Section school qualifying for a regional playoff game in the next five years are slim and none. But keep dreaming. Anything is possible.
Reaching the NFL
Sometimes hard work is rewarded, and that's why everyone should be elated for Akeem Ayers (L.A. Verbum Dei) and Rahim Moore (L.A. Dorsey), both of whom were second-round NFL draft picks.
Six years ago, I went to South L.A. and met each. They had dreams, aspirations and determination to make a better life for their families. Ayers was a junior linebacker taking part in a gathering for the Verbum Dei-L.A. Jordan football game. Verbum Dei Coach Kendric Knox told the players: "Let's stay away from the violence and nonsense. Don't succumb to peer pressure. Go to class, do what you have to do and stay out of trouble."
Moore was a 15-year-old sophomore starting free safey for Dorsey. He was mature and confident beyond his years. He said, "I'm very ambitious. I'm going to shock the world."
Ayers and Moore escaped the gangs, hit the books, got scholarships to UCLA and now they're headed to the NFL. They are role models for their community. They have made their friends and family proud. They used their brains and talent to get where they wanted. And they didn't have to play in a state bowl game to find their way.