City Section football proposal would eliminate Open Division

Quarterback Jake Garcia has transferred from Harbor City Narbonne to La Habra
Quarterback Jake Garcia is among several players who have left Narbonne, leaving the Gauchos’ program void of their usual number of top players for 2020.
(Shotgun Spratling / For The Times)

City Section football coaches are expected to meet in June and vote on a playoff proposal that would eliminate the Open Division and limit the format to Divisions I, II, III and IV, sports coordinator Shane Cox said Monday.

Cox, who is making the proposal, said Division I would be made up of 17 teams and ranked 1 through 17. Division II would have a similar number of teams, and so forth. In an interesting twist, Cox said one team wouldn’t make the Division I 16-team field but would be available in case a team is removed because of forfeits, something that has happened in recent years.

The reason for the change is that Harbor City Narbonne is about to lose its “super team” status. Narbonne’s rise led the City Section to create an Open Division of eight teams. But Narbonne has lost coach Manuel Douglas, who has been on suspension for a year during a Los Angeles Unified School District investigation. The team had to forfeit all its victories last season and was banned from the playoffs for two years for using ineligible players.

Narbonne has since lost several top players who have transferred to other schools, including quarterbacks Jake Garcia (La Habra) and Ashley Tucker (Downey Warren). It’s still uncertain who will coach the Gauchos in 2020.

“If we don’t have this one super team that no one can compete with, there’s no reason to keep this format,” Cox said.

Each of the four division champions would receive an automatic berth into the state playoffs.

“It will give lower teams an incentive to play for something,” Cox said.


City Section officials were upset that Lake Balboa Birmingham, the 2019 Open Division champion, was placed in Division 2-A for the state playoffs, losing 51-23 to Oxnard Pacifica in a regional bowl game. Having four divisions could help the City Section find more appropriate placements for state, Cox said.