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Football: Determining playoff entrants is not easy

November 10, 2013|By Eric Sondheimer

 Yes, it looks a little silly when a 5-5 or 4-6 team is selected over an 8-2 or 7-3 team for an at-large playoff berth. Coaches, players and fans start getting upset, but win-loss record should never be the determining factor when teams play in different leagues and face different nonleague opponents in a vast and diverse Southern California high school sports scene.

That's why the Southern Section has a specific criteria and point system based on win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, strength of league and strength against commmon opponents. Only when that comes up a tie in the point system, as in determining the Pac-5 Division at-large berth between JSerra and Crespi, do things really get sticky.

If there's a reason for teams to get out of their comfort zone and stop playing the same schools every season that they beat, this is the reason when there's a tie and people start examining who they played.

Crescenta Valley went 8-2 and tied for second place in the Pacific League, but the Falcons had no chance to beat out West Covina (5-5) for an at-large spot based on scheduling such nonleague opponents as Verdugo Hills, La Canada and Pasadena. La Canada had a 77-0 loss. Pasadena was 1-9. Verdugo Hills lost to Muir, 70-6.

Then there's the case of Los Angeles Diego Rivera, a City Section school that made the Division III playoffs only to be removed when no representative showed up to exchange video, a mandatory rule. Players are upset and writing letters pleading to get back into the playoffs.

They need to ask their coach, D'Andre Collins, what happened and why? In a brief phone conversation on Saturday, all Collins would say is, "Nobody showed up." He refused to go in detail.

The players and parents deserve a response.

Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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