How tough should a first game be?

It is understandable that most coaches want their preleague schedules
sufficiently challenging to prepare their teams for league

The question is how challenging should it be?

Supposedly the ideal preseason would include games that a team, at least
on paper, should win, teams that perhaps will be a toss-up, and a team
or two that will be favored, perhaps even be bigger, stronger, faster,
and will help determine how tough mentally the underdog is when faced
with adversity.

The key when scheduling is to choose that favored team carefully. Taking
on an opponent that is all three, bigger, stronger, faster, and probably
deeper in talent, can be detrimental to not only a team’s won-loss
record but also to its health – mental as well as physical.

Nothing wrong with being an underdog. Putting a team’s psyche at risk is
something else again.

St. Paul faced one of the CIF Southern Section’s toughest football
schedules a year ago. That would be expected to do the Swordsmen well
for their opener this season against Servite and teams that will follow.

As it was a year ago, St. Paul’s enrollment (a bit more than 700) will
be smaller that any of its opponents this season except St. Francis (a
bit less than 700). However, St. Paul has both boys and girls, St.
Francis has all boys.

Servite, also an all-boys school, had an enrollment in 2006 of 820,
according to the CIF-SS directory. St. Paul has fewer than 400 boys.
Servite is a solid Division I (PAC-5) football program. St. Paul is in
Division III (Western), although in terms of numbers, probably should be
no higher than Division V (Central).

On paper, Servite definitely is bigger, stronger, faster than St. Paul.
Clearly, that makes the Swordsmen an underdog.

A St. Paul victory would be considered a monumental accomplishment. A
tie would be impressive. A close defeat would be admirable. A lopsided
loss likely would be expected.

In any of those scenarios, serious injury causing the loss of one or
more key players would be critical to the program for the rest of the
season, and because the make-up of the team would be changed, it would
give rise to the question was it worth it.

Perhaps for future scheduling, just how much above a team’s level of
ability and strengths should potential opponents be considered?

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