Back to Drawing Board for Football Playoffs : High schools: Southern Section Council, for now, in favor of regionalizing only for other sports.


The CIF Southern Section Council, meeting Thursday in Buena Park, listened to plans for restructuring playoffs on a regional basis and generally agreed with those involving nearly all the major sports. A proposal for a new format for football, though, drew so much criticism that it was sent back to the drawing board after about 18 months of work.

"It will be interesting to see what develops [with football]," said Ray Plutko, former Southern Section commissioner and now Temple City High's principal. Plutko heads the 14-member committee that has studied moving high school playoffs to a more regional format in response to superintendents' wishes to cut expenses and time lost in the classroom and to increase attendance.

Said Dean Crowley, the current commissioner, "Football is always out in front in everybody's mind. Even when it's just releagueing, everybody thinks of football first."

In part, that's because the football playoffs provide almost 40% of the Southern Section's revenue.

A straw vote, taken on the committee's playoff plans, indicated that about two-thirds of the council's 74 leagues favored the move to regional playoff competition in baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball and basketball. Those playoff plans, with some modification, will be voted upon at the council's Jan. 25 meeting and, if passed, implemented in 1996.

Football was another story. In a straw vote, plans to divide the section into six regions, generally along geographic lines, were defeated, 34-29, and another vote dropped the issue into Crowley's lap for a two-year remedy.

What will happen, he said, is two more years of the same 11-division format, slightly reconfigured to account for a new league that will begin play next fall in the Riverside area.

"That will cause something of a domino effect," with leagues moving between divisions, Crowley said.

Representatives did not go home empty-handed, though. The section was $148,000 in debt only three years ago but has grown financially healthy enough to dispense $98,550 to member leagues, in checks ranging from $750 for the small organizations to $1,750 for those with more schools.

Much of the money, said Crowley, came from an $87,000 check from the CIF, the proceeds of some corporate donations.

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