The last memory of the 2015 season for San Marino High School football fans should have been quarterback Carson Glazier and receiver J.P. Shohfi simultaneously hoisting the CIF Southern Section Central Division championship plaque after beating Charter Oak last Saturday night at Citrus College.
For La Habra fans, it should have been rushing the field after quarterback Eric Barriere and receiver Prince Ross hooked up on the biggest pass play in school history to beat San Clemente on the final play of the Southwest Division championship game.
Over at La Mirada, the last thing anyone should have remembered about the 2015 season was the hug-fest that ensued after the Matadores completed a simply dominant run through the Southeast Division with a sound victory over nearby rival La Serna.
It doesn’t get any more storybook than those three. But thanks to the current system, all three teams are right back in action this weekend in anti-climatic CIF State regional bowl games.
Should they win those, the season continues for an unprecedented 16th game the following week with a State championship bowl game that could take place here or in Sacramento.
It all adds up to a season that could last a whopping 16 games and end Dec. 19, less than a week before Christmas.
The obvious question is why? Why do we even need this? Who out there was so bent on cracking the mystery of whether San Marino could beat Sierra Canyon in Week 15? Who were the fans that moments after La Mirada won the Southeast Division asked, “Could we beat Oceanside?”
The easy answer that most fans come up with is pure and simple greed by CIF to squeeze another two game’s worth of revenue out of the most popular sport. But that’s not exactly the case, reminds CIF State spokesperson Rebecca Brutlag.
“We’re governed from the ground up and our schools make the rules, so our schools requested this,” Brutlag said. “They wanted to have all section champions have an opportunity to participate in a bowl game. Previously, the way this worked was that if you were a section champion, you got voted in to play in a state championship bowl game. You didn’t automatically qualify.
“Now, if you’re a section champion, you do get the opportunity to play for a state championship.”
If you weren’t aware of the groundswell of schools pushing for this playoff configuration, it’s probably because you live in the Southern Section, where next to nobody wanted it. The Southern Section actually voted against it, but in CIF’s version of the electoral map, it didn’t matter.
Since 2006, the state bowl game system has been gradually expanding. This season is the biggest it’s been. There’s 25 regional bowl games this weekend. There will be 13 state bowl games next week. Originally, there were only three state championship bowl games and no regionals.
The local teams who have to somehow get “up” again after their biggest wins of the season and play another game or two have to put on a good face about it.
At San Marino, Glazier admits he and his team weren’t originally aware that their season could last beyond 14 games. But since the Titans are the first team in school history to be part of such a system, they’re hoping to make the best of it.
At La Mirada, head coach Mike Moschetti is selling the notion that his team’s goals all along were to play for a state bowl championship. But if you saw last week’s postgame celebration, it’s hard to imagine anything else could mean more to the Matadores than the Southeast title.
Perhaps La Habra head coach Frank Mazzotta put it best when he didn’t say either way whether he liked the system, but was just so happy to have another week or two with his team. And that the Southwest Division championship is won and can’t ever be taken away.
In theory, La Habra, La Mirada and San Marino should celebrate a win this weekend harder than they did last week. But we all know that won’t happen. All three teams have proven their points loud and clear. They’re all champions who accomplished all they needed in their own right.
What happens this weekend is just gravy.