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NCS football seeding meeting

Some of you out there have probably never attended a seeding meeting. Let me share with you some of the things that matter most when it comes to a team getting in and getting a high seed.

You would think that scores of games would matter. A close loss for one team against a team that somebody else blew out. You would think the team that blew out the other team would have an advantage.

Nope. Literally, a win is a win and a loss is a loss to the NCS committee. They hardly care about how two teams competing for a final spot compared in score against another team. So when trying to grasp the seeding, throw that thinking out the window.

NCS tries to get people on the committee that know absolutely nothing about what is going on in football. They want unbiased people. And these people usually follow the criteria down to a T. So, overall record is weighted heavily despite anyone’s argument of strength of schedule (Strength of schedule is considered, but way down the list).

Head-to-head is also weighted heavily. The coaches rankings are another criteria that is often used.  From what I have seen, the coaches rankings are the only way a team with a worse overall record than another team will have an advantage. But these three things matter most. End of story.

Let me give you an example from this season. San Leandro beat Castro Valley 15-14 in overtime and Monte Vista crushed Castro Valley 48-9. The committee won’t see anything of this. They will see it as both teams won. That is why if San Leandro gets in and Monte Vista gets in, the Pirates will likely be ranked higher because of its overall record.

When trying to put the seeding together for yourself, make sure to remember that the people on the committee go in knowing very little. Most haven’t even seen a game. So, you have to put yourself in their shoes.

 Some of you have asked where to find the criteria that the committe follows. Here is the link: http://cifncs.org/sports/football/files/ATLGSEECCH.pdf

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NCS 3-A East Bay playoff picture

This has been shaken up since the last time I posted something. 

 NCS 3-A picture

 Locks: San Ramon Valley (7-0-1, 4-0 EBAL); Newark Memorial (8-0, 5-0 MVAL);  Pinole Valley (6-1-1, 3-1-1 ACCAL); Alameda (6-2, 3-2 ACCAL); College Park (6-2, 5-2 DFAL).

Near locks:  Arroyo (5-3, 2-3 HAAL)

Bubble teams:  American (5-3, 2-2 MVAL); Tennyson (4-4, 2-3 HAAL); Washington (3-4-1, 3-2 MVAL); Clayton Valley (3-5, 2-3 BVAL).

Notable team that doesn’t qualify: Freedom (3-5, 2-4 BVAL) Won’t have at least .500 record in league or against 3-A teams.

My picks/seedings: 1. San Ramon Valley; 2. Newark Memorial; 3. Pinole Valley; 4. Alameda; 5. College Park; 6. Arroyo; 7. Washington; 8. American

A lot of explaining to do here.

Washington’s two forfeit losses to Arroyo and Tennyson could come back to haunt the Huskies. I don’t think it will, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tennyson got the nod over Washington because of the forfeit win.

Washington plays Granada this week and gets American in the finale. At best, Washington finishes 5-4-1 and Granada has a chance to upset the Huskies. If they do, that would make Washington 4-5-1. I don’t see American topping the Huskies. 

Tennyson has Bishop O’Dowd and San Lorenzo left. The Lancers will most likely finish 5-5 but do have a loss to American. This is a weird triangle because American owns a win over Tennyson, Tennyson has the forfeit win over Washington and Washington will likely have the win over American. This triangle will make it easy for Arroyo to get in because the Dons beat Tennyson and have the forfeit win over Washington. If somehow American beats Washington, then I think Tennyson will get that last spot and Washington will be left out.

But let’s continue with the scenerio that Washington beats American.

Two of the three triangle teams (Washington, Tennyson and American) will probably get in. Freedom doesn’t qualify to make the playoffs because it will have a less than .500 record in league play and is 0-2 against 3-A teams. Clayton Valley has a slim chance to get in if it can beat Deer Valley and Antioch to close the season. That would make Clayton Valley 5-5 overall, but I don’t expect them to beat Deer Valley.

Despite playing in the tough BVAL, it doesn’t look good for Clayton Valley because the seeding committe loves overall records and they will likely finish 4-6 at best. Although, the coaches vote could help Clayton Valley out. They qualify for the playoffs because they have a .500 record (1-1) against 3-A teams.

So, to me the two best teams are American and Washington. I think those two will end up in because Tennyson doesn’t have a bigger win than Washington’s tie with San Ramon Valley. If Tennyson would have beaten American earlier this season, they would have been in. But they lost that game by 1 point. I think Tennyson needs to root hard for American to beat Washington to have a chance.

Interesting thought: Washington will be a No. 7 seed because of the two forfeit losses. But they are way better than a No. 7 seed. That means Newark Memorial, if they are No. 2, will play Washington again. The last meeting was a 6-3 Newark win. If SRV is No. 2, then they will play Washington. The last time these two met it was a 35-35 tie. Should be a good first-round matchup with somebody.  

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Down to the wire for the prep football season

So, here we are. The penultimate week of the high school football season. It’s been a long year already and it’s debatable as to whether we know more now than we knew at the beginning of the season. Here’s what we know:

BVAL: Pittsburg is atop the league standings at the moment, which we predicted might happen. What we certainly didn’t predict is the team that would be behind the Pirates and that’s Heritage. The Patriots have proven their mettle with wins over Ygnacio Valley and Deer Valley and they will be a contender in the NCS 2A field. Potential playoff teams: Pittsburg (4A), Heritage (2A), Ygnacio Valley (2A),
DFAL: The league is Las Lomas’ to lose after the Knights beat College Park last Friday. There may not be a better group of skill players around than the group that attends school on South Main St. in Walnut Creek. Potential playoff teams: Las Lomas (2A), Campolindo (2A), Acalanes (2A), College Park (3A)
EBAL: San Ramon Valley is in control with California right behind. The rest of the league is sort of a morass, with not much separating the rest of the field. Potential playoff teams: San Ramon Valley (3A), California (4A), Amador Valley (4A), Foothill (4A), Monte Vista (4A)
ACCAL: It’s tough to figure this league out since it appears Berkeley is headed for the league title after starting the year 0-3-1. Pinole Valley has been good in spurts and Encinal has some talent but Berkeley has emerged as the leader heading into the final turn. Potential playoff teams: Berkeley (4A), Encinal (2A), Pinole Valley (3A), El Cerrito (2A), Alameda (3A)
BSAL: St. Patrick-St. Vincent faces Piedmont in Week 10 and that will determine the league champion. Other than those two teams though, this league is a league in flux, with several teams rebuilding. Potential playoff teams: St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Class A), Piedmont (2A)

So, there it is. When the field gets set, we’ll have our take on predictions and what not here on the East Bay Prep Sports Blog and be sure to watch Two Geeks and a Pigskin for your weekly high school football fix.
– Ben Enos

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NCS 2-A East Bay playoff picture

I got to see exact opposite games this week. Friday night I was at San Leandro’s 15-14 thrilling overtime victory over Castro Valley and on Saturday I was at Bishop O’Dowd’s 63-20 romp over Arroyo. That game had nearly 1,000 yards of offense! Incredible. O’Dowd looks tough. They have four tailbacks that are gamebreakers (Che’rod Simpson, Mario Brown, Adonis Smith and Marcus Harrison).

NCS 2-A picture

Locks: Las Lomas (8-0, 7-0 DFAL), Heritage (5-3, 4-2 BVAL), Bishop O’Dowd (6-2, 4-1 HAAL), Encinal (6-2, 4-1 ACCAL), Piedmont (6-2, 4-0 BSAL)

Near locks: Ygnacio Valley(6-2, 4-2 BVAL),  Acalanes (5-3, 5-2 DFAL), Campolindo (6-2, 5-2 DFAL)

Bubble teams: El Cerrito (5-3, 3-2 ACCAL), Miramonte (4-4, 3-4 DFAL), JFK-Fremont (3-5, 2-3 MVAL); Northgate (4-4, 3-4 DFAL)

My picks/seedings: 1. Las Lomas; 2. Bishop O’Dowd; 3. Heritage; 4. Ygnacio Valley; 5. Encinal; 6. Acalanes; 7. Campolindo; 8. Piedmont

After No. 1 and No. 2, the seeding in this division is complicated. Piedmont will likely come in with a solid record, but it hasn’t played the competition that Encinal, Acalanes and Campolindo have. Piedmont lost to Campolindo in the season opener 31-2. Now, Piedmont certainly has improved but the seeding committee doesn’t care about that. They will see 31-2 and probably put Campolindo in front of Piedmont. Although, Piedmont’s impressive overall record could boost them higher.

But I pretty much think these will be the teams that get in. I don’t think any of the bubble teams have a chance to crack the eight teams that I have listed.

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Volleyball Madness

I was hoping the Northgate Tournament would shake up the volleyball scene, but I didn’t predict this madness.

Talk about crashing a party. So, who were the unexpected guests? The Washington (Fremont) High volleyball team, that’s who. Wait, who? … Yeah, exactly.

It all started when the Huskies beat Las Lomas in pool play.

The prognosticaters had the bracket set up for Las Lomas, the No. 8 seed overall in the tournament, to play No. 1 seed Amador Valley in the quarterfinals.

Instead, the loss to Washington had the Knights facing the Dons in a “crossover” match with the winner moving on to the championship bracket at Northgate. In a perfect world, Las Lomas and Amador Valley wouldn’t have faced each other until the championship bracket, but the Knights took advantage of the opportunity and proceeded to beat the Dons, keeping the No. 1 team in the East Bay Coaches Poll since Week 1 out of the Northgate gym and setting the tone for a wacky tournament.

Of course Washington continued its bracket busting ways by winning it’s crossover game as well, then beating Las Lomas in the quarterfinal in three games. The Huskies are being coached now by Mike Terrell because head coach Ashley Eyre was expecting a baby and gave birth a few days ago. Terrell (who has coached the boys teams at both Clayton Valley and California) took Washington, leaders of the MVAL, to the tournament’s “Final Four” before losing to Bishop O’Dowd. A tip of the cap goes out to the Huskies.

Meanwhile, the parity of this season was on full display.

Albany gave BOD a run in one quarterfinal before losing, while Carondelet’s 21-match win streak was brought to an end by Castro Valley in a tightly contested, tense filled two games that were so close (26-24, 27-25) its hard to come away with any type of conclusions on who’s better, which can be said now for every team out there.

After yesterday, come North Coast Section playoffs, it’s evident that anything is possible.

–Ricardo Sanchez Jr.

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NCS 4-A East Bay playoff picture

Thank goodness for overtime in the Hayward Area Athletic League. I got the chance to watch San Leandro’s thrilling 15-14 overtime victory over Castro Valley on Friday night. Man, what a game.

But, on another note, let’s breakdown the NCS  4-A playoff picture. Things are beginning to shape up after Week 8.

NCS 4-A picture 

Locks: De La Salle (7-0), California (7-1, 4-1 EBAL), James Logan (8-0, 3-0 MVAL)

Near locks: Berkeley (4-3-1, 4-0-1 ACCAL), Pittsburg (4-4, 4-1 BVAL), San Leandro (6-2, 5-0 HAAL).

Bubble teams: Mt. Eden (5-3, 4-1 HAAL), Amador Valley (6-2, 2-2 EBAL), Foothill (5-3, 2-2 EBAL), Monte Vista (5-3, 2-2 EBAL), Deer Valley (6-2, 4-2 BVAL)

My picks/seeding: 1. De La Salle; 2. James Logan; 3. California; 4. San Leandro; 5. Amador Valley; 6. Pittsburg; 7. Deer Valley; 8. Berkeley

My take: The EBAL could be on the outside looking in when it is all said and done. Four spots are likely to go to league champions(JL, SL, Pitt, Berkeley) plus De La Salle makes five spots gone. That means only three spots are availabe for at-large hopeful teams. And California at 7-1 right now are a lock for a spot. That means, the way I see it, two spots are up for grabs going into the final two weeks.

Amador Valley gets Foothill and California in the next two games. A win over Foothill or California figures to get them into the playoffs. Amador should be able to get that done.

Deer Valley’s win over Granada earlier this season might be enough to get them into the playoffs. Granada own a win over Amador and if Amador knocks off Foothill or Cal, that will make Deer Valley’s win even bigger. If Amador beats Foothill, that could spell the end for the Falcons. Monte Vista would be the only threat to Deer Valley getting the final spot. If I had my own decision, I would put Monte Vista in. But I have a feeling NCS won’t see it that way.

Monte Vista and Foothill play each other this week. The loser of this one will probably not reach the playoffs. And if Amador beats Foothill, and Foothill beats Monte Vista, that will be it for Monte Vista.

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EAST BAY VOLLEYBALL POLL (7)

Maybe after tomorrow night (Oct. 27), when the Northgate Tournament is over and done with, the Top 10 will get a little shake up. But for now, it looks like the usual suspects remain in their usual slots.

Which is fine with me but…. there was some movement that left me a bit puzzled.

How does a team remain undefeated in league play by beating its cheif rival and still manages to DROP in the poll?

I guess my real question is: Why doesn’t Albany get a little more respect?

The Cougars look to be legitimate contenders in Division III, own a 23-2 overall record and haven’t lost a game in the Bay Shore Athletic League (as of Oct. 25).

Perhaps that’s it. The Cougars play in an athletic league that has the words BAY SHORE in front of it intsead of EAST BAY.

It’s more than fair to argue that playing in the EBAL is like walking through a mine field every week, but that reputation shouldn’t hold so much weight every single week.

Monte Vista beat California, Livermore and Granada (those three teams have a combined three wins in league play) after losing three-straight to Amador Valley, Foothill and San Ramon Valley, however those wins were enough for the Mustangs to jump ahead of the Cougars in the poll by two spots.

The Wolves apparently were boosted by its win over the Mustangs and was ahead of Albany even though it lost to Amador Valley by this score 29-27, 25-14, 24-26, 26-24. The scores maybe say the Wolves are the better team, but in the end, its the “W” that counts.

I’ll just say that a team can’t control the league it plays in, it can only win the matches it has on the schedule. And that’s what the Cougars have done.

Anyway, that’s why we have polls. They are supposed to be fun and spark debate.

What do you do think?

– Ricardo Sanchez Jr.

EAST BAY COACHES COACHES POLL (7)

1) Amador Valley (Like clockwork, this train is always on time)
2) Carondelet (is it Nov. 9 when Cougars play DV — yet?)
3) Deer Valley ( see Carondelet comment)
4) Bishop O’Dowd (see Amador Valley comment)
5) Foothill (waiting for rematch against Amador Valley)
6) Monte Vista (can’t wait until playoffs start for another shots)
7) San Ramon Valley (drops a tight one to Amador Valley)
8) Albany (Nicky Hagan and Jana Poole are ballers)
9) Castro Valley (write something about team here. Oops thinking out loud)
10) Las Lomas (rematch at Campolindo on Tuesaday Oct. 30 for league title)

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Prep football polls

One of the questions I get the most throughout the prep football season is, how do you guys vote on the poll and why is (fill in the blank), ranked above/below (fill the blank again).

I usually try to go through the whole system, but let me use this forum to lay it out in the open, along with my feelings on the poll, having been a writer with 16 years of voting on prep football, basketball, baseball and softball polls.

Honestly, I think the polls are a bit of a joke. Here are some of the problems.

 1) Writers are very territorial for their respective teams. This is not necessarily a bad thing in prep sports, as people want to read about their respective teams in their area and all want to believe their teams are the best. When it comes to polls, writers who cover the same teams week in and week out tend to give them a little more support. I for one am guilty of it and anyone who says they’re not is not telling the truth.

2)  The writers get too wrapped up in the records of the teams and not with the strength of schedule. There are some schools and leagues where the competition is not very strong and teams run up 6-0 or 7-0 records without playing anyone halfway decent. Does this warrant a higher ranking than say a team like Pittsburg, who is 4-3, but counts losses to Valley Christian-San Jose and Logan among their three defeats? I say no and continue to vote Pitt around the top 10. You can’t expect me to believe Pitt wouldn’t walk through half the leagues in the East Bay without a loss. The Pirates deserve to be a top 10 team, even with their record. What about a team like Granada? The Mats have only two wins, but have lost to Deer Valley, Vintage, Monte Vista, San Ramon Valley and Foothill. The loss to San Ramon was only 19-9 and they scored 35 points on Monte Vista. The Mats would be a threat to win at least four leagues in the East Bay this year, but they suffer because they are in the EBAL.  This brings out the problem where writers don’t vote for the deserving teams, but rather the best records.

3) Strength of league is ignored. Heading into the EBAL season, the league had teams ranked Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.  When they start beating up on each other _ what else did you think would happen _ some voters started questioning how strong the league actually was. People, it’s pretty basic. Someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. How do you penalize the No. 6 team for losing to No. 3 in a good game? You shouldn’t, but others don’t seem to understand those logical thoughts. 

4) Only one poll is also a problem. In the 80′s we had two polls, with the teams split based on size. The best idea would be for us to have a 4-A/3-A poll, then a 2-A a poll, voting only for the top 10. At least someone other than De La Salle would be able to make a claim to being No. 1.

5) The De La Salle factor. Anyone else tired of De La Salle always being No. 1 in the poll? The Spartans are a tremendous team every year and fully deserving of all the recognition they have gotten. But it gets very boring every week voting in the poll and putting DLS at the top. And as long as Lad is running the show, it’s not going to change. If you honestly think it’s going to change this year, then come talk to me, I’ve got some property in Florida I’d love to sell you. 

 All in the all, polls are a good idea, as they do provoke some discussion. But don’t take them too seriously.  Generally speaking, the majority of people voting on the poll don’t take the time they should to look at all the leagues and the respective strength of schedule. They see wins and losses and nothing else. It’s far from a perfect system and it wouldn’t be too tough to make it better. Here’s hoping it happens in the near future.

Dennis Miller, Tri-Valley Herald sports editor

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U.S. Women’s Soccer: Elvis Presley in a Beatles World

Greg Ryan has been fired as coach of the U.S. national women’s soccer team. No surprise there. Seems that two happenings in September, a controversial goalkeeper change and a Women’s World Cup semifinal loss to Brazil that followed, sealed Ryan’s fate. We can only hope that U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati moves more quickly and decisively in replacing Ryan than he did in replacing former U.S. men’s coach Bruce Arena last year.
But this is about neither Ryan nor Gulati. Rather, it’s American women’s soccer itself that finds itself on trial.
The United States did not give birth to soccer the way it did to rock-and-roll music. But American women, along with their sisters from such “nontraditional” soccer countries as Norway and China, helped perfect their sport at the international level for more than 15 years. Today, other countries such as two-time Women’s World Cup champion Germany and current runner-up Brazil have made huge strides in women’s soccer. As the semifinal with Brazil showed, time has marched on for the Americans, who find themselves as soccer’s answer to Elvis Presley trying to survive in the era of the Beatles.
The challenges for American women’s soccer begin at the youth and high school levels. Save for the Shannon Boxxs and Briana Scurrys of the world, girls/women’s soccer largely is a product of white suburbia in our fair land. Among high school boys, we see greater diversity and multiple soccer influences (sadly, these are not reflected at the international level). The same cultural dynamics, however, that drive and fuel boys soccer often tend to shackle the girls.
These realities are long-standing and deeply-rooted. Partly as a result, girls who do take up soccer often are exposed solely to coaches who preach the kick-and-run approach to the game.
As the Women’s World Cup showed, however, old habits must give way to modern thinking. Unfortunately, neither national team coaches nor federation presidents can bring about these changes by themselves. A lack of a women’s major professional league doesn’t help, though the United States is far from alone in that regard. Rather, the changes must begin at the grass-roots levels, both on and off the field.
On the plus side, more and more parents are recognizing the benefits for their daughters who wish to play soccer. And as players move up the ladder, it’s now plainly clear that the technical part of the game is every bit as important as the physical.
American women’s soccer screams for modernization. On both coasts and every point in between.