30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 18) – Haves and have nots

Today, we tackle something of a sensitive subject.

Is North Coast Section football a competitive playing field for every school?

At this point in the season, every high school football team shares the same dream. Everyone believes they can make the playoffs, and every team has a road map that ends in the NCS championship game. For some teams, the dream is plausible. A couple big plays here and there, and they’ll end up playing for a championship.

For many teams though, that dream has never been further from reality.

Here are the facts. Only two public schools from west of the Caldecott Tunnel have won NCS football titles since Kennedy-Richmond did it in 1988. If you guessed the 2008 Encinal Jets and the 2006 Hayward Farmers (they won an East Bay title before losing to Cardinal Newman), you’re on the ball.

No team from East Contra Costa County has won a title since 1991, when Pittsburg beat De La Salle. Sure, most of those schools are in Division I (or, the artist formerly known as 4A), and beating the Spartans seems harder than ever these days. Still, if you tried to beat the odds by picking someone else in recent years, you lost.

The question I have is why do schools that traditionally underachieve continue to do so? And, is it in the section’s interest to promote parity?

Recently, we’ve seen the NFL become a more level playing field. There are fewer teams in the bottom echelon of the league, and dynasties are becoming fewer by the year. The league’s popularity has never been greater, and it dominates any sports talk show you may listen to. Clearly, parity is fueling interest.

So, would it benefit the North Coast Section to help these underachieving teams to become more competitive?

I think the answer to my question, in theory, is yes. Better competition means more interest from the entire East Bay (and the Redwood Empire). The question is how do you encourage improvement from these schools that either A. Have administrators that could care less about interscholastic sports (and there are some, don’t kid yourself) or B. Have parents that don’t take an active role in their kid’s schooling?

Maybe one day, I’ll figure out the answer to the question. What I know is that for a lot of schools, it’s just not working. The blame doesn’t necessarily lie with the NCS. Maybe it lies with administrators who just don’t care. Or with extenuating circumstances that can’t be overcome (lack of players, etc.). All I know is that it would benefit kids throughout the East Bay to see these schools turn things around.

Ben Enos

  • The blame starts with the administration. Every school in the valley have not just athletic hour 6th period PE but multiple athletic hour & weight training classes which just become football classes. Can’t speak on every school for sure I believe they all have them Cal High does then I know that Miramonte has 5th & 6th period for sure. Thats such a huge deal schools in the East Bay who have kids that just won’t dedicate til its too late. I think SL is the only school who still has it so they can’t complain. When we did have it in the East Bay teachers would just let their kids cut class & still give them A’s so it kind of defeated the purpose & lead to its demise at a lot of schools.

    Second is the kids. Even with out athletic hour PE if you have practice in February/March for football the kids are just there. There are no excuses.

  • Come on Enos, I’m pretty sure O’Dowd won an NCS championship in 2004.

  • Damn you did say non private schools. You might as well just count their championships though I don’t like thinking that our football over here is that bad & we can’t compete. We’ve gotten close a lot EC 2006, SLZ 2003, Pinole Valley has had some stud teams that should have pulled through a couple of times. All the SL teams that lost to De La have to mean something they lost to the best team in the country most of the time.

  • KillerD

    The few actual championships within the framework you list West of the Tunnel in many cases has to do with:

    1. Lack of traditional family value support for the kids at home in many situations

    2. Lack of Money to support the programs in key areas

    3. Lack of solid Admin support

    4. Smaller Schools

    5. Changing demographics – a De-emphasizing of football

    6. Ineligible players due to poor grades

    7. Lower quantity of coaches who can commit

    * Tour the Bronx in New York, project 20 years from now, unfortunately, parts of the East Bay west of the Tunnel are becoming that way. Unless changes are made NOW, it will only get worse.

    And in Concord, Antioch, Pittsburg, things need to be done to turn things around regarding 1 – 7.

  • i know i am givin away my age with this comment, but when i was in school, the whole community showed up for the football games, that was the thing to do, and you had pride in your school. i think if there was more community support, the schools wouldn’t have a choice but to support the football programs and maybe the kids would be more committed. when you go to some communities, they even sell the t’shirts with school mascots on them at the local grocery store. now I am really givin away my age, but when my uncle played, we travelled to all his games, I am talkin about the whole family. More community and family involvement might help.

  • BBfan2 your absolutely right. With communities like that kids feel like celebrities & will take more pride in showing up & succeeding.

  • EBfootball

    BIGGEST REASON: The OAL is not in the NCS Playoffs!!!

    Mack would have cleaned house in their division during the Carter Administration. Probably in the 3A and 2A too (D2 and D3 now). Who knows what Skyline could have done in the Beam years. Or Tech in the Marshawn Lynch years. And I wonder what Fremont, O-High, and Castle could do in the present times with their DI prospects?

    The OAL as a league probably has the highest concentration of physically gifted athletes in the bay area, maybe even in all of Northern California. The “Division I Alumni” blog sites that 20 NCAA Division I football players are from this 6 team league/section. And there’s a lot in the pros too! (what’s that stat Prep Corner?)

    I wonder if the OAL would step their game up if they were apart of the NCS playoffs? I know the OAL hasn’t done that well against NCS teams lately and I’ve heard a lot OAL people call their non-league games “pre-season” games. This leads me to believe that those games aren’t taken that serious. But I could see how it makes sense to them since their OAL record is all that matters to get to the Silver Bowl playoffs.

    NCS teams have to take every single game as serious as a heart attack if they want to get into the playoffs. If nonleage doesn’t go well they only have league champions status to rely for an automatic birth. Scheduling the right teams and politcing at the NCS selection playoff board is another extra task. Shoot, I’ve seen a team that was 7-3 not make the NCS playoffs!

    Again I ask… What will it take to get the OAL into the NCS playoffs??? (i posted that question in the 800 comment blog)

    I agree with Tenorio about giving SL some respect. I remember watching Dennis Dixon and them at the Coliseum put up a respectable fight to the top rated school in the nation.

  • dnrapp

    The biggest reason the OAL is not in the NCS is that the OAL DOES NOT WANT TO BE IN THE NCS!!

    If they were in the NCS a good number of players would be not be able to play because the OAL has diferent grade point rules. Also with the OAL schools being different sizes the schools would be split into different leagues and the OAL as it it would be no more and may even dissapear.

  • Dnrapp what’s the different grade point rules? Just curious. Also, I’ve heard OAL doesn’t want to give up the tradition. There does seem to be quite alot of D1 players from OAL on the list. I have a question: Is it better to be a skill player or part of a good system? Someone once told me they wouldn’t even think of sending their kid to DLS because it’s all a system and your kid won’t really stand out. This was of course another sport. Does anyone else have an opinion? Not sure if I even worded it right(lol)

  • KillerD

    If the OAL has less stringent rules governing the ability of its athletes to play sports, it would make an interesting point of debate.

    Is it true their football programs can do some things others cannot? If so, what are those things?

    I enjoy seeing OAL highlights, great athletes making great plays.

  • XTower

    Different grade-point rules? Yeah, the OAL gives scholarships and allows 23-year-olds to play as well.
    Puh-lease …

  • dnrapp

    A different grade point rules was my understanding. That is one of the reasons that SF public schools and LA public schools are also their own sections. The inner cities are less stringent on some rules in order to keep kids playing

  • EBfootball

    In September of 2008 the OAL had the opportunity to join the NCS but the status quo was maintained.

    I’m a huge East Bay high school football fan and I would love to see the OAL join the NCS just for their participation in the playoffs. It’s a shame that the OAL’s 6 schools only participate in series of rematches for their football playoffs instead of showcasing Oakland’s talent in NCS Playoffs where 100+ schools are eligible.

    Sure the OAL gets the same number of headlines and a perception of equality is created, but what’s really going on? Again… 6 SCHOOLS ELIGIBLE FOR PLAYOFFS INSTEAD OF 118!!!

    When the buzz around this possible merger was at it’s height, the misconception that the OAL as league was going to disband so the popular oppinion was against the merger. That’s what I was hearing on the streets and reading in the paper. But the reality was that only it’s “section” status was at stake. The league Would remain intact and possibly include some others schools.

    It seemed like the biggest opponent of the merger was the OAL Commissioner which makes sense because his job may have been at stake (seems like a great job too and I’m not for anyone losing their job if they do it well). His reasons were mostly financial, which doesn’t make throretical sense to me. If it made bad financial sense to be in the NCS, why do 100+ schools participate… most of which are in better financial shape than OUSD? Hell, even the Richmond schools are in NCS. Here is a link to his proposal by the OAL Commissioner to the OUSD of why the merger should not take place… You be the judge.

    Also, here are the blogs that were posted about this topic…


    I’ve worked at both NCS and OAL schools for 12 years and I really would love this for the kids. Oakland kids will get to see what else is out there and the surrounding communities can see what’s inside of Oakland.

    NCS schools really don’t play OAL schools because it doesn’t help much in the seeding criteria. The most important criteria for NCS Playoffs is the teams record against other schools in the NCS of the same size or bigger.

    My questions are these…
    How can the OAL participate in the NCS playoffs?
    Can it be done without being part of the NCS?
    Does the OAL want this?
    Does the NCS want this?