City Section football continues to struggle with best method for playoff seedings

A screenshot of a computer showing the current system for City football playoff seeding based on a Calpreps ratings formula.
The City Section is planning to move away from its current system for playoff seeding based on Calpreps’ ratings formula.
(Luca Evans / Los Angeles Times)
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If you ask coach Angelo Gasca, Venice High’s Open Division first-round football game last fall against Lake Balboa Birmingham was a championship game.

On paper, they were two of the best teams in the City Section, and they played on a Thursday night in November that went to double overtime, ending in a Birmingham goal-line stand and a 28-27 victory.

But it wasn’t a championship game. That was a playoff opener, and no opponent Birmingham faced in the later rounds posed a challenge, the Patriots steamrolling Wilmington Banning and Garfield en route to an Open Division title. So Gasca and a wide array of City Section coaches have postulated something needed to change with seedings.

“There needs to be more of a personal touch from some unbiased people … to just go off an algorithm and go off things the way they have been the last couple years, it’s kinda tough,” Gasca said.


Enter a new array of ideas put forward Monday during a City football coaches’meeting, where commissioner Vicky Lagos outlined a plan to change the section’s process for seeding — which uses prep football ranking site Calpreps’ rating formula — that’ll have major implications on playoffs.

The largest change, Lagos told The Times, will involve a coaches-nominated “seeding committee,” called upon on the Saturday after the final game of the regular season to help structure playoff divisions and seedings. No current coaches are permitted, Lagos said, meaning members of the committee will be made up of administrators and former coaches.

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It’ll add a more hands-on element to a process that changed in recent years to the Calpreps model, which spawned strange determinations like eventual Open champion Birmingham seeded seventh in last year’s playoffs.

“There was frustration that [coaches] didn’t understand how the system they were using worked,” Lagos said. “It wasn’t very transparent.”

Can’t please everybody, however, and some aren’t happy with the planned switch. During the offseason, Eagle Rock coach Andy Moran said, City coaches voted to approve the implementation of a new seeding tool to be used in conjunction with the Calpreps system. In the coaches meeting, Moran said, he was “caught off guard” by the pivot to the committee proposition.

Moran, a veteran coach of 25 years, said in the past there’s been an ugly precedent for a seeding system created by a committee and spoke of meetings where coaches jockeyed for better playoff positions. The complications of that system, Moran said, led to the turn to the Calpreps formula. And Moran is displeased by the backpedal.


“I don’t know what any of these coaches would do with an algorithm,” Moran said, commenting on coaches’ desire for more transparency with the Calpreps formula. “I don’t know if they all watched ‘A Beautiful Mind’ last night.”

Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez also was wary of past struggles with a committee-based approach.

“I just think that we are starting to carve a path of similar direction of where we were a couple years back, which is not fun,” Hernandez said. “So it’s kind of one of those, careful what you ask for.

“I just hope that we get it right. And I just don’t know if we will.”