By Bill Tamburrino
In high school there are no exhibition games. High school sports are divided into three seasons: fall, winter, spring. Each season has different sports.
Ramona High School fields football, water polo, girls and boys cross country, girls tennis, girls volleyball and girls golf in the fall. Those are the CIF sanctioned sports seasons. They have a beginning and ending date and playoff dates.
We all know that most sports are year-round. Of the fall sports football is the only sport that does not have travel ball, club ball or AAU events year-round.
Each sport has three different phases of the season. The first phase of the season is tryouts (some teams don’t even bother with tryouts as the rosters are set before the season starts) and conditioning. That phase usually ends with a scrimmage of some sort.
The second phase is pre-league games. Some sports have tournaments. Tournaments allow teams to play more games. The CIF has a point system. Each team gets a certain number of points. Usually games count as one point.
A tournament counts as two points because originally tournaments were all double elimination. Now tournament directors have gotten creative with tournaments and for two points a team can play up to a gazillion games.
Each coach has a different theory on what type of pre-league games and tournaments should be scheduled. The San Diego Section of the CIF is unique. In some sections league standings determine who goes to the playoffs.
In the San Diego Section some leagues have teams from two, three and sometimes four divisions in them. That is not the case in the Southern Section. So in the Southern Section league standings determine who goes to the big dance. In San Diego a committee decides. That has a big effect on scheduling.
Strength of schedule is a phrase that is very important in San Diego. It is not so in most other sections. Strength of schedule has an effect on preseason games.
Oceanside High School expects to win their league so they scheduled Servite High School in a non-league game. Servite is one of the top teams in the nation and the number one team in California. Oceanside knows that it is good. They want to see how good. They want to be in that elite group.
Since a committee makes the decision in San Diego, some coaches in some sports try to schedule patsies. Colleges do the same.
Some big-time college football powers schedule academic-oriented institutions for its pre-league games to avoid injuries and make money. Little Sisters of the Poor comes to mind.
Basketball coaches are the best at scheduling. They invite three to seven teams that they can beat to a tournament and call it a classic. If the teams are really horrible they call it an invitational or a shoot out.
Here is the dilemma. If a coach schedules too many tough teams in the pre-league schedule, strength of schedule can hurt the coach. The committee in San Diego has selected 3-7, 2-8 and 1-9 teams in football on a regular basis.
San Marcos once went to the playoffs with an 0-10 team. To make money the CIF selects teams that shouldn’t go to the playoffs for opening round games in many sports.
According to one media source, Ramona has the toughest strength of schedule in football in the San Diego Section. Poway is number two and Oceanside is number three. Ramona plays both.
That schedule is not Damon Baldwin’s fault. Three teams formerly on our schedule refused to play Ramona in the pre-league schedule so instead of Serra, El Capitan and Valhalla, Ramona added Grossmont, Morse and Otay Ranch — more travel and less money.
Oceanside and Valley Center are mandated games by the North County Conference. The principals want to make money. Every bruise is a buck.
The third phase of the season is the playoffs. Unfortunately, in San Diego, that is the fairest part of the season for most teams. Coaches try to get an advantage in tournaments and pre-league patsy games. In many cases (North County Conference), the leagues are not fair. The playoffs match teams from the same division.
Last year Ramona had a better record in the playoffs than it did in its league in several sports. When things are fair, good things can happen.
Individual sports have a different format than team sports. The fastest runner, best golfer or tennis player and wrestler can advance even if his/her team is not good.
The first phase of the fall season is halfway done. The Palomar League is small so it has a bigger pre-league phase than other leagues. Look at it and determine if it is fair for all concerned.
Playoff berths mean recognition, exposure and in some cases the gate. The Palomar League and North County Conference is all about the gate.