State Football playoff idea

This is my solution to get playoffs in California.

Get rid of the section playoffs for football. Less teams will make the post season, but it also makes getting to the postseason an honor rather than the way it is no where a 2-8 Alhambra team would have made it if their coach just showed up to the meeting. I went to quite a few playoff games this year where there was little fan turnout anyways.

The plan is to create SIX divisions:

Division I (2,500 +)
There is a huge discrepancy in the amount of giant schools in Southern California (211) vs Northern California (36). So for the division, there will be an 8-team NorCal bracket and three 8-team SoCal brackets. The SoCal ones can be regional based or a straight seeding for all of SoCal, either way works. Remember all that matters is that we’re trying to crown a state champion so as long as the top 32 teams get in it’s fair.

When it gets to four teams left (3 SoCal, 1 NorCal) you play the SoCal vs SoCal game down South and the SoCal vs NorCal game up North. The Championship is then played down south — that prevents a team from having to make two giant trips back to back weekends.

I did a mock seeding for D-I and it would look like this for NorCal based on the CalPreps power ratings.

This is what the Division-I bracket would potentially look like (or something similar)

1 Bellarmine
8 San Leandro

4 Deer Valley
5 Lincoln

6 Merced
3 Gilroy

2 Oak Grove
7 Milpitas

Division II (1,750-,2,499)

NorCal (102 teams) gets a 16-team bracket. SoCal (194 teams) gets a 16-team bracket. The winners play each other. Its straight seeding 1-to-16 with home field until the championship (or maybe semis). 15 percent of the teams in NorCal would make it, 8 percent in SoCal.

A potential NorCal Division II playoff bracket would look something like this:

1 De La Salle
16 North Salinas

8 Granite Bay
9 California

4 Serra
13 Los Gatos

5 Foothill
12 Pleasant Valley

3 Pittsburg
14 Nevada Union

6 Monte Vista
11 Clayton Valley

7 San Ramon Valley
10 Freedom

2 Grant
15 Burbank

Division III (1,250-1,749)

NorCal (103 teams) gets a 16-team bracket. SoCal (59 teams) gets a 16-team bracket. It’s the same setup as D-2. 15 percent of NorCal teams would make it, 27 percent of SoCal.

A potential bracket in NorCal would look like this:

1 Paradise
16 Rio Americano

8 Pioneer
9 St Ignacius

4 Shasta
13 Las Lomas

5 Novato
12 Campolindo

3 Whitney
14 Miramonte

6 Inderkum
11 Foothill-Pal Cedro

7 Enterprise
10 Palo Alto

2 Casa Roble
15 Red Bluff

Division IV (750-1,249)

NorCal (64 teams) gets a 16-team bracket. SoCal (49 teams) gets a 16-team bracket. It’s the same setup as D-2/D-3. 25 percent of NorCal teams would make it, 32 percent of SoCal. Could go 8 teams as well on both sides, but might as well go 16.

Potential NorCal bracket:

1 Valley Christian
16 Colfax

8 Christian Brothers
9 Lassen

4 Encinal
13 Bishop O’Dowd

5 West Valley
12 Scotts Valley

3 St. Mary’s-Stockton
14 Calaveras

6 Palma
11 Bear River

7 Escalon
10 Castlemont

2 Cardinal Newman
15 Marysville

Division V (400-749)

NorCal (54 teams) gets an 8-team bracket. SoCal (66 teams) gets an 8-team bracket. It’s the same setup, but the quality of football really starts to drop off, so I think 8-team brackets works better here. 14 percent of NorCal teams would make it, 12 percent of SoCal.

Potential NorCal bracket:

1 Hilmar
8 Anderson Union

4 Marin Catholic
5 Justin Siena

3 Sacred Heart Cathedral
6 Argonaut

2 Central Catholic
7 Salesian

Division VI (399 and below)

NorCal (58 teams) gets an 8-team bracket. SoCal (58 teams) gets an 8-team bracket. It’s the same setup, but the quality of football really starts to drop off, so I think 8-team brackets works better here. 13 percent of NorCal teams would make it, 13 percent of SoCal.

Potential NorCal bracket:

1 Modoc
8 St. Elizabeth

4 Fall River
5 Bradshaw Christian

3 Rio Vista
6 East Nicolaus

2 Hamilton
7 Vacaville Christian


  • Section playoff are gone.
  • Divisions in Northern and Southern California are the same enrollment breakdowns.
  • It’s not completely fair in terms of how many team SoCal and NorCal qualify at each division, but it’s about as close as possible without creating huge travel strains.
  • Travel wouldn’t be any worse than basketball.
  • Too many potentially good games to count
  • Every team has a shot to win a state title.
  • There could also be a NIT-type tourney for all the other teams if people complain that there will be less games with this proposal.

Kyle Bonagura

Kyle Bonagura is a Pleasanton-based prep sports writer for the Bay Area Newsgroup-East Bay.

  • Old Meddling Former Coach

    Looks good but the key word is fair and it looks fair too As far as school size as well.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    I tried to make the cutoffs not based on how many schools were in certain divisions, but based on what amount of kids really ends up making a program stronger … if that makes sense.


    yup but encinal would have a 1st seed baby.

  • Jet4Ever52

    makes sense opens up state title hopes for a lot of teams

  • Old Meddling Former Coach

    Any idea when they’ll post The 2008 All BSAL team?

  • Kyle Bonagura

    The seeds don’t really matter, they were roughly thrown together. But what matters is that everyone has a shot.

  • JT

    Wow.. That Bellermine vs San Leandro match up is actually gonna happen nex yr in wk 0..

  • eastbayscout

    i would drop to about 2300 or so for top division, that way more of NCS better teams would qualify for top division…i also believe ALL private schools should automatically have to play one division up from enrollment size, because of abilities to offer scholarships and pull from all areas.

    I also think there should be more divisions. should be probably 8 or so. i believe you would have to iron out division 2…there is a 750 student difference in that group…why i think by dropping to say 2300 we would spread it out a little more.

    giving too much to the really small schools, most of which don’t even have football programs. so if stay in 6 divisions. and if they are a small private school, well they can recruit half the team as oaks christian does anyways.

    D1 2700 and above
    D2 2200-2699
    D3 1700-2200
    D4 1200-1699
    D5 800-1199
    D6 799 below

  • eastbayscout

    if stay with giving all the small teams playoffs then 2300 above for norcal that way we can get more of our top teams in the playoffs. DV a #4 seed is D1, no disrespect they are a solid program, but not enough talent in the top division in norcal thats a problem

    but i think my bottom scenario is better.

  • HAAL Fan

    You may also have to allow teams the ability to petition up. Not only would that eliminate the quality of athlete argument but it will allow the better programs to compete in the D1 classification. Kind of like the Open classification in the CCS. Also, I believe the SoCal schools have enrollments almost double NorCal’s. Is there something you should do about that?

  • Kyle Bonagura

    Opting up becomes tricky, although I do like the idea to have the privates play one level up to help balance it out.

    There is no denying that it is a big advantage to be private.

    EBScout- I separated the “below 799” into two divisions because there is a huge difference between 200 and 750. That’s almost four times as big. Kind of like a school with 1,000 playing a school with 4,000. The numbers I have listed are the amount of schools with football teams.

    Definitely a lot of twists we could put on this to make it better, but its a start….

  • sanford

    By this model you could win league and not get a post season game. At the end of the day, the north and south are too different for things to be completly fair. They have so many super large schools but there is no way that a school like CV should have to compete against schools like Saugus and Hart from down south. Numbers are numbers the state should at least align the numbers so there is no difference between the north and south. Then they need to form a committe like they do in basketball to eveluate the picks for the state bowl game, commisioners are more paper pushers tahn sports fantatic, they can more easily tell you about elibility than the best program in there section.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    Sanford- There could be a rule added whereas if you win your league you automatically qualify.

    But that could make it so better teams, who play in stronger leagues might get left out.

    Look at this year. Washington won the MVAL… but lost to Cal 41-0 in the first round when Cal finished 4th in its league. Should a team like Cal or SRV get left out in favor of Washington. I say no.

  • Bayfan who knows

    Grant is a great choice. Sure there schedule was not that strong, but 18 consecutive playoff appearances, says that this is a quality program. Furthermore Grant has been trying to schedule strong opponents, including De La Salle for years, with no succcess. The commissioners did the right thing in giving this storied program a shot at the big time. So all of you hater’s out there who have any pull with a local football power, give Grant a call and schedule a game. I promise you that they will not say no. But I know, and you know, tht you won’t make that call! Instead you’ll try and win through politics!

  • eastbayscout

    well i agree division winners should not be automatics, but if there were more separation in divisions I doubt that situation would really every arise.

  • dnrapp


    Your proposal is like the one at calpreps. Here is the link for thier playoffs.

  • true playoffs

    The private schools need their own playoffs. If the CIF would have done the picks as they should, all five reps for NorCal would have been private – DLS; Bellarmine; St. Mary’s; Cardinal Newman; and St. Vincent’s. Most other states make privates play in their own playoffs because they have a distinct advantage over the publics.

    Maybe have two levels of playoffs for private. Enrollment above 500 (I just picket a random number) and one for enrollment below. For the private school bracket allow teams who wants to petition up to face DLS do so. The privates in SoCal have the same advantages. Let the publics get more of a chance.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    The CalPreps proposal has a lot of traveling up and down California. I tried to limit that so it was economically feasable.

  • east bay homer


    I must say that this is one of the best proposals I have seen so far but I agree that an “open” division or private school divison need to be in here. For those with poor leagues that want to get in the playoffs, schedule tougher non-league game to prove you deserve to be in…..

  • ncsfan

    Where are three of the four NCS Division V Semifinalists. Saint Vincent (Petaluma), South Fork (Miranda) & Tomales. Saint Vincent won the 2008 championship and both Tomales & South Fork are frequent participants

  • junior

    Hey – lets have the private schools start their games down 14-0 before the kickoff and they also have to count to 4 mississippi before they rush the QB.

    Kyle- your suggestion would be VERY exciting and put much of the bantering to rest. You also might develop some new rivalries because of that format.

  • a&f#1fa

    which Lincoln are we talking about?

  • CJ

    One the best suggestions/formats I’ve heard in years. This at least addresses the need to make standardized divisons state-wide.

  • HAAL Fan

    Yeah, I agree with junior for once. Let’s quit all the private classification bull. California has some of the finest football in the nation, public or private. This is a well thought, but above all else, logical proposal. Well done.

  • EBAL Fan

    Kyle, you’re totally screwing Middletown out of a berth and that’s wrong!!

  • HSFootballFAN

    Whats up with the disrespect to St Vincent? St Liz should be the team that is MIA in DVI.

  • HSFootballFAN

    BTW I do like the idea but the CIF has their own ideas and really don’t care what anyone else thinks. It is their way or the highway!

  • Kyle Bonagura

    There is no disrespect to anyone. The teams up there were strictly off the power ratings. St. Vincent has exactly 400 students according to the this CIF website which moved them to DV.

    Thanks for all the feedback everyone…

  • Kyle Bonagura

    A&F- Lincoln-Stockton

  • Bk Kirkenhiemer

    Bayfa says, “sure Grants schedule isn’t as strong as De La Salles……’
    ou understand bayfan, that’s the reason given. That’s the rational for picking Grant over DLS. The had a tougher schedule. Which even you think is ludicrous of course.
    But you say it’s OK. Forget actually earning it. Let’s just give them the nod over DLS because, well….because!

    What the hell world am I living in? Bunch of fruit loops.

  • Mrbig

    Grant is undefeated, DLS lost a game. To a top team DLS fans argue. True. Yet the Alta (UT) team that won Utah’s top division, and that Grant DEFEATED is ranked around #50 nationally. And I assure you Alta would be in Top 25 Nationally had they not lost to Grant. Just as Bosco who beat DLS would be ranked much lower had they lost to DLS. DLS is a great team, but do not overlook Grant. Both teams will have trouble in Carson this weekend.

  • HSFootballFAN

    DV,DVI…Doesn’t matter, as NCS Champs, St Vincents is still not on your list. They beat everyone and in years past have made it to the playoffs consistently. To me that is disrespect when a team is deliberately left in the cold for no good reason.

  • HSFootballFAN

    Argonaut?? Anderson Union?? If ratings were the deciding factor where is Ferndale? Argonaut didn’t even get throught the first round of their playoffs. I can’t even find Anderson Union on Calpreps. Yea, this formula is a bit biased!

  • Kyle Bonagura

    FAN- You are completely missing the point.

    I just threw those brackets out there as a guide of potentially what the proposal would look like. The idea of a state playoff system is the main point here and I just used the ratings as a way to make the process go faster.

    So if that qualifies as disrespectfully leaving a team in the cold for no good reason, I guess I’ll just have to disagree.

    Anderson plays in the Northern Section’s Northern league.

  • BeingReal

    Good start, let me suggest:

    Drop all leagues and sections.

    Private schools play on their own, not part of nor recognized by the CIF. They compete on an uneven playing field with advantages in facilities and the ablility to accept “students” outside of their geographical area. Especially in times like these, why should state taxpayer dollars go to support “the spirit of amateur competition” at the private level?

    Create one statewide system based upon school size (Division) with geographical based districts in each division. District winners compete against other district winners in a playoff format that lead to statewide divisional championship games.

  • HSFootballFAN

    “The teams up there were strictly off the power ratings”.

    Kyle, your words..forget my problem with you deliberately leaving out St Vincents…YOU deliberately left off Ferndale, who happens to have rating of 16.4 over St Liz, who is -5.1.

    I DO see the point you were trying to make. I know this is a suggestive model and was probably put together at the spur of the moment. I quess I’m surprised at your favortism and even more surprised at the fact that you are defending your choices.

    Although…Your an East Bay writer who will ALWAYS favor the East Bay teams whether you own up to it or not.

  • HAAL Fan

    Okay. Maybe only a few of us seem to understand. Who cares what teams are in the bracket! The teams in the bracket are just used as fillers to show the infrastructure of the bracket itself. Kyle simply used the calpreps power rankings so that he wouldn’t have to sort through team after team. I’m sure there’d be a committee in place to carefully sort through the teams. So for god’s sake argue over the fictitious playoff process not the fictitious teams in the fictitious brackets.

    Moreover, if we eliminate privates from the public bracket then there can never truly be a public school champion who can absolutely declare that they are the best team in the state. It will always be “We are the best public in the state.” Publics beat privates all the time. But, when the private in our area has a record of over 300 wins and 20 losses in a 30 year span, it seems more lopsided of an advantage.

  • BeingReal

    HAAL Fan,
    Good point on the public vs private school competition. However, while I have no doubt about the quality of the coaches and the DLS program, I do have to question, as in my previous post, if this sucess has been influenced by outside factors.

    Specifically, does the ability to admit “students” outside your geographical area create an unfair edge? I contend that it does. Further, over time this edge tends to become self perpetuating, with the more talented “students” seeking enrollment, not so much for the academics as for the sucess of the athletic program.

    The ability to schedule public school competition only serves to validate this two tier system, much to the detriment of the public school program. I contend that when you remove the ability to schedule competition vs public schools the private school domination will quickly dissolve as the quality of competition will be severely limited.

    I offer as proof the Texas HS system. Private schools are allowed to compete only in the TAPS (Texas Association of Private Schools) division. There is no comparison in regards competition. Public school 5A division teams pitted against the best TAPS schools could go home at half time and still not lose the game.

  • Kyle Bonagura

    FAN – Ferndale should have been in, you’re right. I must have accidently deleted them when I was sorting through everything in excel.

    If you think I always favor East Bay teams, you haven’t been reading this blog for very long. Ask Encinal. I sided with Novato before that game game and have often said Casa Roble should go to the state game over Encinal …. Or maybe you could ask Dougherty Valley, I predicted it would get crushed by Ferndale even though the DV fans were on here saying they would win.

    Happy Holidays.

  • Jrock

    I think the north should be divided up like this:
    D-1 2100+ = 80 teams
    D-2 1670-2099 = 79 teams
    D-3 1280-1669 = 78 teams
    D-4 700-1279 = 74 teams
    D-5 280-699 = 65 teams
    D-6 279- = 40 teams

    Get all D 6,4,2 playoff done by last weekend in Nov. December-play state championship 1st weekend in Dec.

    All D 5,3,1 done by 1st week of Dec and play championship 2nd weekend of Dec.

  • Jrock

    We should configure leagues by school enrollment. We don’t do that now- WCAL

  • ok

    wheres berkeley??


    this does look good but encinal would be a 1 seed. and you forgot berkeley. unless that was for last year. i forgot you did this