How many games should high school teams play?

January, 15, 2012
1/15/12
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How many is too many? Are 16 games too many for high school football teams? Are 30 teams too many for CIF state bowl games?

Those are some of the questions the CIF Southern Section is mulling in preparation for the 2012 football season.

Under the current formats, with Southern Section playoffs and CIF state bowl games, some teams could play 16 games or the equivalent of an NFL regular season. Six of the 10 teams in the CIF state bowl games in December played 15 games. None played 16.

Teams would be allowed to schedule another game in the 2012 season, and that might lead to some of the 10 teams in the CIF state bowl games to have 16 games.

Sierra Canyon was the only one among the CIF bowl teams to complete a 15-0 season. Westlake was 14-1, Santa Margarita was 13-2 and Del Oro from Loomis was 13-2.

Some bowl teams only played 13 games. Le Grand, which lost to Sierra Canyon in the Division IV bowl game, was 12-1 and had a three-week layoff between its section championship game and its bowl game.

The Southwestern League submitted a proposal to the Southern Section Council to limit teams to 15 games and allow 30 teams from the 10 sections in the state to participate in bowl games in 2013. Currently, 10 teams play in five CIF state bowl games. The CIF state bowl games expanded from three divisions to five in 2008. An open bowl game and a Division IV bowl game for small schools were added.

The Southern Section Executive Committee voted on Saturday in Palm Springs to recommend the Southwestern League’s proposal. It will be voted on by the Southern Section Council next month.

For the time being, teams will be allowed to play 16 games in 2012 and regional bowl games will be played.

Some high school football teams started their 2011 seasons on Aug. 24, in what is called Week Zero. Some Southern Section schools are scheduling out-of-state opponents or teams from Northern California for their Week Zero games.

A potential 16-game high school schedule would be two more games than some of the top college football programs. LSU, Oregon and Houston, for example, played only 14 games, including bowl games. Most college teams played 13 games in 2011.

Why would high school teams need to play 16 games? Why are they starting the season in the middle of August? If anything, high schools should scale back their season to a maximum of 12 games and start the season when school starts in the first week of September.

Plus it already takes two days to play five CIF bowl games. By increasing the number of bowl games to 15, it would make sense that it would take six days to play them all.

A week’s worth of high school football would make for an exciting time. But what facility could handle that kind of abuse? The Home Depot Center is a great site for the games but 15 games in six days would take its toll. Thirty teams are too many. Ten teams are a bit much, but manageable.

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