THE PREPS : Southern Section Rejects Home-Field Football Playoff Proposal

Times Staff Writer

Members of the Southern Section's general council overwhelmingly rejected a proposal Thursday that would have given league football champions a home-field advantage in the postseason playoffs until the championship game.

The council, comprising principals representing 64 leagues throughout Southern California, voted, 63-1, to reject the proposal at a meeting in Norwalk. The plan was submitted by the section's football advisory committee.

Jerry Witte, Saddleback football coach, represented the advisory committee and introduced the proposal at the last council meeting in November. The plan immediately drew criticism from council members because of the possible transportation costs for playoff teams that failed to win a league title.

Stan Thomas, Southern Section commissioner, had suggested the idea to the advisory committee, which in turn, drafted the proposal that was submitted for approval.

"As a former football coach (at Neff High), I always thought there was little reward for winning your league," Thomas said. "You get a first-round game at home, and then often you're at the mercy of a coin flip to determine the site for the rest of the playoffs.

"I wanted a plan that would reward league champions, but this blew apart, didn't it? As I visited leagues around the area since the plan was introduced, I could see the writing on the wall."

Council members voted in favor of a proposal that would allow football players to wear helmets during the three days of conditioning in August. The ruling, seen as a safety measure, will go into effect for the 1988 season.

Thomas also announced that the National Federation Football Rules Committee will allow offensive linemen the open-handed, full-extension blocking techniques currently acceptable in professional and college level play.

In other council proceedings:

Southern Section rule 2712.1 (40% rule pertaining to club competition outside the season of sport) was upheld despite a ruling by the state CIF that gave an exception to the sport of soccer.

The Southern Section's general members had voted on accepting a limitation on the number of participants from one school who can play on a club team (40%) last May, and upheld that rule Thursday.

The fall season of sport was increased from 53 to 57 days and the winter season of sport was decreased from 83 to 78 days. The increase affects the fall sports of cross-country, girls' tennis, girls' volleyball and water polo only. The proposal will not apply to football.

The decrease in the winter season affects boys' and girls' basketball, boys' and girls' soccer and wrestling. There will be no impact on the spring calendar.

Girls' 100-meter low hurdle events will change in 1989 with the height of the hurdles increasing from 30 to 33 inches. The ruling is in compliance with the national federation.

Southern California Christian of Anaheim will move into the Arrowhead League next season, but its football team will continue to compete in the Olympic League. Capistrano Valley Christian moves into the Olympic League, but its football team will continue to compete in the Arrowhead League.

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