By Ray Hamill — A potential trip to the state championship in prep football may now come down to the luck of a coin flip for teams in the North Coast Section.
The NCS executive committee voted on Wednesday to use a coin flip as a final option to decide which teams advance to next month’s NorCal regional games if the scheduling problems persist.
If the two finalists have met earlier in the season, that game would be used as the tiebreaker instead.
Several NCS playoff games in multiple sports were affected this past weekend, with the poor air quality caused by the ongoing wildfires forcing postponements.
A total of 18 of the 24 scheduled football games were pushed back a week, including those involving St. Bernard’s and Fortuna.
The air problems, however, have persisted through the week and are not expected to clear up before Friday at the earliest, and it’s being reported they could continue into next week.
Five of the seven divisions in the NCS have not yet completed their quarterfinals, and there are just three weekends currently remaining between now and the scheduled state regional games on Dec. 8/9.
The state championships are scheduled for the following weekend.
The decision to use a coin flip if necessary affects Divisions II, III, IV and V, which includes four of the five local teams still playing — Eureka, Del Norte, Fortuna and St. Bernard’s.
In such a scenario, if the two teams who advance to an NCS championship game have met previously this year, that game would serve as the tiebreaker.
If, for example, St. Bernard’s and Fortuna each advanced to the Division-IV championship, the Crusaders would get the automatic bid to the NorCal regional game because of their overtime victory over the Huskies last month.
Likewise, if Del Norte and St. Bernard’s advanced to the championship game, Del Norte would get the automatic bid courtesy of its win in the regular season finale.
In such a scenario, no section champion would be crowned.
The decision, voted in 5-2, was heavily criticized on social media.
The Central Coastal Section is also facing a scheduling crisis and voted on Wednesday to move games to playable areas and hold five separate triple-headers.
In a report in The Mercury News, NCS commissioner Gil Lemon said it was not feasible for the NCS to do the same.
“The only (NCS) counties that have had no air problems are Del Norte and Humboldt, both six hours away,” he said.