Shortly before 6 p.m. on Saturday night, Crescenta Valley High’s football season officially came to an end.
In reality, its fate was likely sealed when Burbank defeated Burroughs, 47-21, on Friday night to wrap up the Pacific League, leaving Crescenta Valley, Burbank and Burroughs in a three-way tie for second place in league, but the Falcons on the outside of an automatic top-three playoff berth due to losing a coin flip.
And on Saturday evening, the Falcons’ bid for the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division’s lone at-large entry was stymied when West Covina, out of the Hacienda League, received it.
“I’m really shocked,” Falcons Coach Paul Schilling said. “I was really pretty confident.”
While Crescenta Valley boasted an 8-2 mark and finished in a three-way tie for second place, West Covina was just 5-5 and was in a three-way tie for third place in its league. Both teams have two wins apiece against opponents with a winning record, as the Falcons defeated San Marino (8-2) and Burbank (8-2), along with two .500 teams in playoff bound La Cañada and Arcadia. West Covina defeated Colony (7-3) and Bonita (6-4) with two victories over two-win teams and one over a three-win squad.
“I can’t even comprehend that decision,” Schilling said. “Even more than the 8-2 record against 5-5, we are a second-place team.”
The Hacienda League, a seven-team league, received three automatic bids, just as the eight-team Pacific League and the other three leagues in the division.
The decision, according to the CIF, came down to its point system to determine at-large entrants which ended up, 3-1, in West Covina’s favor.
The teams didn’t play each other or have any common opponents, so neither of those factored in.
West Covina was awarded one point, as the division’s coaches advisory committee rated the Hacienda League the toughest in the division, while the Pacific League was rated the weakest. It should be noted that Pacific League champion Muir is currently rated fourth in the division and Burbank, which lost to CV, is seventh. The Hacienda League, as of Monday’s poll, had champion Diamond Ranch ranked second and Los Altos ranked sixth. CV, which has been ranked previously in the top 10, is listed as the first “other” for the ranking and West Covina follows.
Crescenta Valley received a point for having a better win-loss record, but the decision ultimately came down to strength of schedule. The Falcons’ opponents were 52-48, while West Covina’s opponents were 55-45, which is worth two points in the ranking system and a 2-1 advantage for West Covina. Thus, three games separated the Falcons from entering the postseason.
Hence, as Schilling put it, if his team would’ve lost all three of its nonleague games, it would have actually been better for the Falcons, a notion he called “ridiculous.”
Another odd reality is that the Falcons would have actually been better off in a third-place tie rather than the second-place tie they ended up in, as would have happened had Burroughs defeated Burbank. Burroughs would have had second place to itself, while CV would’ve won the third-place tiebreaker over Burbank, which would have had to hope for an at-large bid. So, odd as it is, third place would have been better than second place for the Falcons, just as five wins would have been better than eight.
More than anything, Schilling was upset most that his Falcons, who won eight games on the field, were dealt their biggest loss off the field and out of their hands.
“It’s really just a great group of kids,” Schilling said. “That’s what I’m most disappointed about.”