Here’s my column from Tuesday, in case you missed it.
There’s still one last shot for voters in the CIF Mid-Valley Division high school football poll to prove they get it, but I’m growing skeptical that they will.
The second-to-last poll of the season was released Monday, and the numbers don’t match reality.
Azusa is ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Valley Division. As you know from previous writings, I’m a huge fan of what Azusa’s accomplished but I’m an even bigger fan of reality.
And reality is Covina deserves to be No. 1 when the playoff seedings are released Sunday morning.
Covina’s regular season ended last week with its win over San Dimas. The Colts finished 9-1 and upended the division’s defending-champion Saints to put an exclamation point on a regular season that also included a win over West Covina, which just so happens to have not lost since and is the No. 1 team in the upper-echelon Southeast Division.
That body of work should be more than enough to earn Covina the No. 1 ranking. Azusa (9-0) instead occupies the top spot, with Monrovia (7-2) at No. 2 and Arroyo (8-1) at No. 3. Covina checks in at No. 4.
Azusa, Monrovia and Arroyo are heavily favored to win this week. As is Whittier Christian, which Covina leapfrogged this past week despite the fact the Heralds won their game and improved to 8-1. Covina has a bye and is done helping its cause on the field.
You might be asking yourself, “Why is this so important?” After all, seedings are just seedings and the division ultimately is going to be decided on the field.
That’s true, but history tells us one of the subtle rewards of having a season so strong is it earns you a top seed and you get an easier road to the championship. It’s like that in every major sport.
In the case of this particular division in this particular year, however, being the nos. 3 and 4 seeds make a team worse off than not being seeded at all.
Therefore, getting it right when it comes to the voting is paramount, and it’s just not happening so far.
If the rankings don’t change on the final vote, which takes place Friday night after the last regular-season games are played, Covina will be playing a very difficult at-large team in the first round.
Current No. 3 Arroyo would be as well.
Specifically, if form holds this week, Covina likely would draw Maranatha (7-3) in the first round and Arroyo likely would draw San Dimas. Meanwhile, Azusa and Monrovia would draw the other two at-large teams, which would be significantly less difficult than playing Maranatha or San Dimas.
For Covina, it’s an unnecessary risk that’s brought on by most voters’ shortsightedness, says Tribune preps sports editor Fred J. Robledo, who voted in Monday’s poll and had Covina ranked No. 1, followed by Monrovia, Azusa and Arroyo.
“At some point, who beat who has to matter,” Robledo said. “You can’t just go by wins and losses. Covina’s victories were so much better than anybody in the division. Nobody has a win like Covina’s over West Covina.”
At Arroyo, the Knights are used to tough draws in the first round. Last season, Arroyo was the No. 4 seed and drew third-place Whittier Christian.
The Knights lost a close game, then watched Whittier Christian come within two minutes of making the finals.
This season, there’s a chance Arroyo could draw defending division champion San Dimas. If that happens, Arroyo would be viewed by many as an underdog against the Saints. San Dimas is ranked No. 7 in the latest poll, far ahead of where a typical at-large team would be.
Sorry, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work.
“My only knock on the system would be is if the CIF polls are supposed to mean anything, then how can you have a (team ranked) three and a (team ranked) seven play each other?” Arroyo coach Jim Singiser said. “It ought to be a three and a 12. That’s the way I look at it. I’d much rather see everybody get reseeded and now you’ve got a true 16-team poll.”
Stunningly, it may serve Arroyo better to lose to Mountain View this week so it could drop out of the top four and face a second-place team from one of the other leagues, as opposed to playing Maranatha or San Dimas.
The Knights still would be Mission Valley League champs but Singiser, as you might expect, won’t even entertain the thought of intentionally losing a game.
“In all honesty, you don’t need a quote from me,” Singiser said. “Anybody who knows football can look at it and see that something needs to be tweaked. It ought to be the No. 1 team vs. the 16th-best team. Then No. 2 vs. the next-worst team and so on.”
That won’t happen anytime soon, though, so fans and teams are left at the mercy of the polls. The voting is done by coaches and media. Collectively, they’ve gotten it very wrong so far.
Right now the entire Valley wants to see Azusa get tested. What better way to do that than to see the Aztecs face Maranatha or San Dimas in the first round?
The Aztecs have a decent argument to be the No. 1 overall seed, but it’s not a better argument than Covina’s.
Nor do Monrovia and Arroyo have a good case to be ahead of the Colts.
But if the voters don’t get a clue and fast, Azusa and Monrovia likely will enjoy the spoils that come with their high rankings, meaning easy first-round games. That’s something neither of those teams deserves over Covina.
Let’s hope they get it right Friday night.