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Winter soccer

The California Interscholastic Federation appears to have a love-hate relationship with soccer. One one hand, soccer is the sport for all seasons with some leagues playing in fall, some in winter and some in spring.
From a competitive standpoint, the winter season offers the best in high school soccer. Most of the top leagues – - at least around here – - play at this time. Also, teams can schedule more games than in fall or spring, players don’t have
the club conflicts, and
teams supposedly have the fields all to themselves, allowing for more
practice time.
Generally, the standard of play is higher than in fall or spring.
The downside of all this is that the season is winter, when the weather is worst.
Several years ago, a winter deluge wiped out big chunks of league seasons. And though an increasing number of all-weather fields has eased many of the problems associated with the game at this time of the year, it’s still not the optimum time to play.
FieldTurf and similar surfaces mean fewer muddy, beat-up fields, though the latter still exist. Regardless, who in their right mind likes to be cold and wet? Travel to and from venues is no bargain, either. And in December, especially, afternoon contests typically end in darkness.
No other outdoor high school sport has to play in winter. Soccer seems to be the "odd sport out" at the high school level. For those who care for this sport, there has got to be some workable solution – - isn’t there?

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Forecast finale

This is it, folks. The end of the road. The last hurrah. The grand finale.
In other words, the high school football season is coming to its climactic finish this weekend. Which means the Forecast, at least in the football sense, will crown its first champ on Saturday night.
Since there are only four games this weekend that we really care about, we’re shaking things up a little.
The point values have been bumped up, and we’re picking final point totals to break any ties.
Chace went 4-7 last week for 15 points and gained a point on me. I went 4-7 for 14 points. Curtis was 4-7 for 13 points.
That means Curtis and I have some serious work to do to chase down the Chace-man, who enters the final week with 100 points. I lurk 7-points back at 93 and Curtis lingers at 79. Ben, who failed to forecast last week, has 63 points. Let’s face it, Ben. At this point, it would take a miracle…
On to the picks.
(12) De La Salle over San Leandro — What more do you need? The Spartans have won 13 straight NCS titles, 17 of the past 19 and 20 of the past 27. They still haven’t lost a 4A playoff game since that bracket was created in 1996.
By the way, that gaudy string includes a 4-championship-game winning streak over the Pirates in the early 00s. Frankly, I think that SL team was more talented than this one. My guess? 40-14 DLS.
TIEBREAKER: 54 points.
(9) Las Lomas over Irvington — I have to say the Vikings have earned my respect. I thought they played in a soft league, and weren’t going to be battle-tested enough to make a run.
Shows you what I know.
Still, both of their playoff wins were 1-point squeakers. That has to catch up to them eventually. Now is the time. Las Lomas coach Doug Longero is one of the best around, the Knights offense has started to click, and their defense is about as good as they come. Sweet dreams and flying Vikings in pieces on the ground…  This one gets away from Irvington early and Longero plays keep-away. My guess? 35-14 LL.
TIEBREAKER:  49 points.
(6) Ygnacio Valley over Miramonte — This one is tricky. Both teams are running the living bejeebers out of the ball. Both are playing solid defense. Both do what they do very, very well on both sides. What’s going to give? As much as I like the Matadors’ defense, I don’t know that they’ve seen an offensive unit as physically punishing as the Warriors. I’ve been saying all week that I think this is going to be the most competitive of the championship games. YV in a nailbiter: 28-24.
(3) Salesian over Ferndale — What do I know about Ferndale? Not much. But I do know that the Chieftains are lighting things up offensively with QB David Singleton, WR Andre Wells and RB Jahvid Best, and that’s going to be a tough trifecta to top.
Salesian by two touchdowns: 35-21.