The formation of new leagues and new playoff divisions this season created new opportunities and renewed hope for schools that had little chance to succeed. Simi Valley and Ventura are taking advantage and have advanced to a semifinal meeting in the Western Division.
Simi Valley (8-4) hadn't been to the playoffs since 1992. The Pioneers were stuck in the Marmonte League, where getting past the likes of Westlake, Oaks Christian, St. Bonaventure, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks, among others, didn't happen.
But in the new Canyon League, the Pioneers won the league title and are one win away from competing for a section title, led by quarterback Davis Pinkston, who has passed for 2,729 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Ventura (11-1) is still in the Channel League, but the Cougars' playoff roadblock has been teams from the old Serra League. Last season, Ventura lost to Chaminade, 36-3, in the playoffs. When Chaminade and Serra got moved into the Pac-5, lots of teams were throwing parties.
Ventura has been running the ball effectively behind TJ Peralta, who has 1,587 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.
It's a little strange seeing two Ventura County teams face off in a semifinal playoff game, but that's what happens when the Marmonte League is broken up.
Another former Marmonte team, Newbury Park, has reached the semifinals of the Northern Division playoffs.
If the idea of revising playoff divisions is to give others a chance, it's working very well this season.