Prep Roundup

Why State Bowl Berth Is Out Of Reach For Hillmen

CIF state enrollment figures differ from South to North
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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Win, lose or draw Friday night in its CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. IV playoff championship game with Modesto Christian, make no mistake about it, the Placer Hillmen football team will have enjoyed a banner season. But when Joey Montoya’s Hillmen walk off the field Friday evening at Lincoln High in Stockton, because of bureaucracy in the CIF state football bowl system, Placer’s season will be over. While the Placer High school website acknowledges “state championship” teams in the 1977 and 1980 seasons, it would be safe to say those crowns in the pre-state bowl era were more mythical with regards to ending the season at the top of a state-wide newsletter’s poll. Now, with state bowl systems in place, it would seem that the Hillmen, by virtue of a win on Friday, would have a shot at deciding a true state championship on the field. However, because Placer’s enrollment total of 1,379, is 128 students more than the CIF North’s cutoff figure of 1,251 between Div. II and Div. III, the Hillmen find themselves way down the pecking order of the CIF North Div. II bowl candidates. “We have six divisions in our section and we won’t have one team on the board in Div. III,’ said Sac-Joaquin assistant commissioner John Williams. “If Placer were in Div. III, I’d think they’d have a great shot if they win.” In this week’s latest Div. II North bowl ratings, Rocklin is No. 1 followed by Del Oro at No. 2 and Inderkum at No. 3. Other schools with slim outside chances of overtaking the leaders that drew top ten votes include No. 6 Encinal of Alameda, No. 7 Del Campo and No. 8 Enterprise, the North Section AAA winner whose season is complete. In the same poll, the Hillmen are tagged in the “On the Bubble” category. Meanwhile, at the Div. III North level, CIF officials could be scrambling to find a team to fill that slot. Contenders include Marin Catholic, Carmel and believe it or not, with a win Friday, Modesto Christian with its 325 students. Because of the greater number of schools located in the southern region of the state figures for division breakdown vary from the North. In Div. I, the south range is 2,400 and up while the North is 1,851 and up. The South Div. II range is 1,101 to 2,399 while the North is 1,250 to 1,850. In Div. III the south is 1,100 to 500 while the North is 1,250 to 400. In other words, if Placer was a CIF south team, it would be a Div. III bowl candidate. Howver, according to Williams, there could be change on the horizon to the state bowl and championship game formats. While plans are still in the early stages and it is not known whether it will be ready to be put to a vote at the CIF Federated Council’s next meeting in January, it could be a step in the right direction of balancing out the bowl system. The new proposal could allow sections to waver from the enrollment based state divisions and allow sections to declare before the season for which enollment level they would want to participate in. For example, with a new plan in place, the Sac-Joaquin Section could declare before the season starts that the section’s Div. IV winner will be bowl eligible for the state Div. III bowl game. “It’s a step in the right direction,” said Williams. “We just have to see how the state commissioners are receptive to it.”