Prep Notes: CCS Moves to Change Football Playoff Format

Football Committee recommends fielding four “A” leagues instead of five in a move that could impact the title aspirations of smaller public schools such as Terra Nova and Half Moon Bay. A vote on the recommendations is not expected until May.


The move to end an unusual football playoff format that for two straight years has victimized Terra Nova High appears to be gathering steam.

Earlier this month, the Central Coast Section (CCS) Football Committee issued a recommendation that would greatly reduce the likelihood that small-enrollment public school programs such as Terra Nova and Half Moon Bay would end up playing in the Open Division.

Terra Nova has faced West Coast Athletic League football Goliath Bellarmine after winning the Peninsula Athletic League Bay title each of the last two years. The Tigers experienced resounding first-round losses both times.

The committee’s recommendation that the number of “A” leagues be reduced from five to four was among three issued at its Dec. 5 meeting.

The CCS is made up of l3 leagues of which 10 are in multi-tiered leagues officials call “power leagues.” The section features three standalone leagues.

If adopted, the PAL Bay winner would play in a division of its own enrollment instead of moving up to the elite Open Division.

Terra Nova, with a co-ed enrollment of just over a 1,000, played an all-male Bellarmine program of over 2,500, meaning they ostensibly faced a school with five times as many males from which to field a team.

The recommendation was drafted out of the PAL evaluation meeting earlier this month. Terra Nova coach Bill Gray put forth the recommendation representing the PAL at the CCS meeting.

“When you win a league championship you should receive some sort of seeding accommodation or seeding benefit instead of being shoved up into the Open Division and being forced to play a game that you can't win,” Gray said.

The recommendation is just the first hurdle of a seven-step process that would run through May if it goes that far. Before it comes to a vote, the proposal needs to be cleared by the CCS commissioner, an athletic directors advisory committee, and the CCS staff.

“It's not a final decision,” Gray said. “It still has a lot of other steps to go through.”

The CCS football committee also issued recommendations that would require teams to have a .500 record to qualify for the playoffs, and allow power leagues to have more than one team classified as an A or C league.

The “.500 Rule” was triggered by Riordan qualifying for the playoffs with a 3-7 overall record and an 0-7 WCAL mark on the Crusaders’ strength of schedule (The WCAL is classified as a “A+ league).

The classification recommendation would overturn a current rule that doesn’t allow a power league multiple A or C classifications. The recommendation is designed to prevent leagues with lower power rankings from leapfrogging leagues with lower ones.



The PAL announced its annual league realignment featuring unprecedented team movement.

Half Moon Bay, Aragon and Burlingame will go from the Bay to the Ocean, with Sequoia, Menlo School and South San Francisco moving up from the Ocean to the Bay.

Jefferson and Kings Academy moved down from the Ocean down to the Lake, and Capuchino and San Mateo up from the Lake to the Ocean.

“It’s the most movement we’ve ever had,” Gray said.

The league’s realignment was determined by a consensus of coaches who looked at past history, graduation losses and strength of frosh/soph and freshman programs in determining who went where, Gray said.

Woodside is the only team that remains in the Ocean.

Terra Nova remains in the Bay for what will be its 18th straight season. The Tigers are the only team to remain in the Bay since its 1996 inception.


Half Moon Bay won the Cardinal Classic as San Francisco’s Lowell High for a third straight year earlier this month.

The Cougars defeated Carlmont 59-30 in the Dec. 8 title game for their sixth straight win to start the season.

That streaked was snapped when the Cougars lost to Menlo School 44-43 in a nonleague game on Dec. 15.

Rico Nuno scored 17 points to lead the Cougars and Corey Cilia added 15 in the Carlmont game.

Cilia and Nuno, the team’s leading scorers, are both juniors.

Cilia is averaging 19.7 points, and Nuno 11.3.


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