And you thought we had to wait until November for the playoffs. Wrong! They start now. Why? Because as you know by now, the Mid-Valley Division has six leagues with each guaranteed playoff spots to the first- and second-place finishers. So, no more third-place automatics and the final four playoff seeds will be AT-LARGE berths determined by a CIF formula. That formula looks at a few different things, with the most important being head-to-head results, if there are any, and you can bet your behind there will be!
(a) Head-to-head competition of teams under consideration (4 points)
(b) Overall strength of the league from which the team is entered (1 point)
(c) Overall win-loss record (1 point)
(d) Strength against common opponents (1 point)
(e) Strength of schedule (2 points, using overall win-loss record of opponents)
That means, all these inter-division games this week and coming up at EXTREMELY HUGE. Coaches, you’d better START YOUR POSTURING NOW!
Here are this week’s biggies!
Covina (Valle Vista) vs. Gladstone (Montview): This is a bigger game for Covina than last week’s win over West Covina. There, I said it. It’s the truth. Why? Because the scenario in which Covina finishes third in the Valle Vista and Gladstone finishes third in the Montview is still very much alive and that means winning this game means more to the Colts’ playoff hopes than beating West Covina. And if you don’t understand that, then I can’t help you. By the way, the rest of the Valle Vista League should send a thank you note to Covina because the Colts’ win over WestCo did wonders for the league’s argument that it’s the best in the division. Remember, “OVERALL STRENGTH OF LEAGUE” is a consideration worth one point in the CIF formula.
Montebello (Almont) at Rosemead (Mission Valley): Have you got Rosemead penciled into one of the first two spots in the Mission Valley like the rest of the world? Good, so do I. But just to be safe, Koffmead had better pick up a win over Montebello, which very easily could be the third-place team in the Almont, which looks to be wide open after Schurr.
Arroyo (Mission Valley) at Temple City (Rio Hondo): Hey Coach Singiser, if you don’t want your boys to be playing another juggernaut third-place team in the playoffs this year, you’d better do everything possible to make sure CIF thinks the Mission Valley isn’t the worst league in the division. And what better way to do that than by waxing Temple City and showing the world that the Rio Hondo deserves to be at the back of the line because after Monrovia it stinks. There’s not a person from 710 to the 57 who believes Arroyo won’t finish first or second in the MVL, but just in case it’s second, the Knights don’t want to be facing the second-place team from the Valle Vista in the playoffs. For Temple City, third place in the wide-open RHL looks to be a viable goal. But third won’t get you in unless you can point to a win over Arroyo.
La Puente (Montview) at El Monte (Mission Valley): This is the type of the game the formula was made for. Strong chance one or both of these teams winds up third in their respective leagues. Whether they’re vying for a playoff berth against each other or against other teams, this game will go a long, long way via the formula.
South El Monte (Mission Valley) at San Dimas (Valle Vista): It’s not too wild to envision a scenario in which San Dimas finishes third in a hard-fought Valle Vista race … behind Covina, BP or Wilson? Whatever, if that happened, the Saints won’t be able to get an at-large berth simply on reputation. They’ll need the formula to work in their favor. And for it to do so, they have to take care of business against South El Monte. The Eagles, on the other hand, are a prime candidate to finish third in the Mission Valley and they’d definitely help their cause for a berth on multiple levels by beating San Dimas.
San Marino (Rio Hondo) at Gabrielino (Mission Valley): Ahh yes, another RHL-MVL battle and a great place to make a case. This is also yet another game in which one or both of these teams could be a third-place team in their respective league after the regular season. So … overall strength of league may come in handy, as would the head-to-head result, obviously.
South Pasadena (Rio Hondo) at San Gabriel (Almont): Yeah hi, this is a very big one. Both teams are good enough to be in the top three in their leagues, so it’s pretty paramount that whether they’re battling for an at-large or simply trying to improve seeding, both need to win this game. Remember, this isn’t just about head.”OVERALL STRENGTH OF LEAGUE” is a consideration and it gets you a point in the CIF formula.
Monrovia (Rio Hondo) at Glendora (Baseline): Obviously, Glendora isn’t part of the Mid-Valley Division, but thanks to Covina’s win over West Covina last week, the Valle Vista League is likely to be considered the top league in the division, which is huge for not only the at-large formula, but the seeding as well. Monrovia can steal some of the that thunder back by beating Glendora on Friday. I’m pretty sure the ‘Cats will definitely care about seeding come November. They can start building their case right here.
Azusa (Montview) at Bell Gardens (Almont): There’s a scenario in which Azusa could be the No. 1 seed in the division going into the playoffs. That has a lot more to do with how many you’ve won in a row and not who you’ve beaten. Well, let’s say the Aztecs beat BG on Friday. They’re looking at being 10-0, barring any MAJOR upsets, going into the playoffs. That will definitely be good enough to make them No. 1 … and keeps them from playing the third-place team from (at-large), say, the Valle Vista or Olympic leagues. That’s pretty important stuff if you’re a team, like the Aztecs, that has CIF title aspirations. This game is also huge for BG because it might be third place in the Almont and needing some formula love. Not only that, if the Almont wants to be considered the top league in the division, it will need BIG wins in games like this.
Alhambra (Almont) at La Canada (Rio Hondo): This, my friends, is a doozy. There isn’t much confidence on the street that either team will be able to knock off the big favorite in their respective league. So, that leaves both teams right in that second-, third- or fourth-place range … and likely to need some formula magic. So, if Alhambra is pleading its case against La Canada, or vice versa, come November, this game will answer the question. But beyond that, league strength will definitely be in play here.