By Ray Hamill — Football teams throughout the North Coast Section continue to search for a solution to the scheduling crisis, with another proposal on Monday to avoid a coin toss deciding which teams ultimately move on to the state regional and championship games.
Three high profile Bay Area coaches have proposed adding four new state bowl games for this year only, allowing the NCS teams affected by the delays to play out the section games and still potentially advance to compete for a state title.
It remains to be seen if the proposal will be accepted by the CIF, which issued a press release on Monday essentially endorsing the current schedule and not mentioning anything in regard to adding additional games or pushing the state games back further.
“Anything that allows the games be settled on the field is a good proposal,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “Anything is better than a coin flip.”
The proposal is seeking to add four state bowl participants from NorCal, chosen from among the four NCS winners affected, as well as a pool of the NorCal runners-up.
It would not guarantee a place in a state title game for any of the NCS programs affected, but it would give the most legitimate state contenders a chance.
The SoCal opponents for the additional four state bowl games would be chosen from the pool of regional runners-up.
Local teams affected
The scheduling problems have been caused by the ongoing wildfires and resultant poor air quality throughout the southern part of the section.
Games have been postponed on back-to-back weekends, leaving the NCS with not enough time in four of its seven divisions to play out the championships and send a team on to the CIF NorCal regional games on the weekend of Dec. 8.
Four of the five local teams still alive in the playoffs have been affected, including St. Bernard’s, Eureka, Del Norte and Fortuna.
The Central Coast Section has also been affected by delays, but made the decision to move its games to playable locations early last week.
The NCS made the decision to move the games to Humboldt County on Friday, but many of the schools involved opted to not travel at the last minute, with no funding available from the NCS.
Instead of moving the games, the NCS voted to use a head-to-head record or a coin flip to decide which section finalists advance.
Section title or state qualification?
The CIF also announced on Monday that if the NCS finalists wish to play for a section title instead of advancing to the regional games, it will now allow that.
It’s a choice that would have to be endorsed by both programs, but would give those teams the opportunity to play for a championship instead of potentially seeing their season end on a coin flip.
It’s an option Eureka head coach Jason White and his players would likely take.
“We want to play the games,” White said. “You don’t work all season to let this be decided by a coin flip. We’ll play out as far as we can for real. We want to play.”
Regardless, it would be a tough choice for any of the teams involved.
“Every coach will have to make the decision that’s best for their players, for their program,” Tomlin said.