After two losses to end the regular season, Point Loma High's football team found itself locked out of upcoming CIF playoff games under a new seeding formula — despite playing one of the county's toughest schedules. Head coach Mike Hastings felt his team deserved better.
The Pointers were defeated by league opponents Lincoln (39-14) two weeks ago before dropping a close decision to powerful St. Augustine (31-28) last week in perhaps the team's best performance of the year.
The losses left the team with an overall record of 3-7 and a mark of 0-4 in the brutal Western League, judged as the most difficult in the San Diego CIF section. However, under the new computerized playoff system in use by local CIF officials, the Pointers' league opponents were all ranked highly and received playoff bids.
Cathedral Catholic received the No. 2 seed in the highest (Open) division while St. Augustine was No. 4. Lincoln was seeded No. 2 in (next highest) Division I while Madison received the No. 4 slot. That means the Pointers' league consisted of the second, fourth, sixth and eighth best teams out of 86 in all of San Diego and Imperial County who play 11-man football. All of them also received first-round byes.
Both Cathedral and St. Augustine are private schools that offer scholarships, if needed, to attract targeted players.
In Division I, the top four teams out of 16 morph into the Open Division. The remaining 12 become the Division I playoff teams. In Division II, the top 12 of 17 teams make the playoffs. The same is done in Divisions III, IV and V as teams become increasingly weaker in measured strength.
In this system, the Dogs were ranked 13th in Division II, meaning 29th out of 86 total teams, yet were not given a playoff spot while a total of 72 teams did receive invitations.
"Yes, it is hard to believe that we did not make the playoffs this season," said Hastings. "Our boys played with tremendous heart all season against arguably one of the toughest schedules any team in San Diego high school football could play."
The San Diego CIF decided several years ago to eliminate tense and stressful coaches meetings to determine playoff teams by using the computerized rankings created by national website MaxPreps. The rankings were tweaked this year to eliminate point differential in games, less weight to strength of schedule and more weight to wins and losses. The new system is known as the "Freeman Formula."
"This change was not told to us until part way into the current season," Hastings said. "Had we known this to be the case, we would have scheduled our non-league opponents differently."
"This team most certainly did deserve to make the Division II playoffs," Hastings added. "We would have fared well against the teams that were selected by this flawed computer ranking system instead of the MaxPreps system that had been used the last few years. The previous system had us in their top Division II ranking at number seven of 17 teams."
In their 2019 finale, the Pointers found themselves going toe-to-toe with the Saints. Playing without key injured players Kaden Gill and Josh Abbott, the Pointers gave the Saints all they could handle and more.
The Dogs' defense scored twice, the first coming on a 40-yard interception return by Makel White. In the fourth quarter, Landon Green scooped a Saints fumble and sprinted 45 yards for another touchdown.
Two scores in the second half came on a rare 2-yard blast by offensive lineman Alejandro Barragan-Peterson in the third quarter and a fourth quarter scoring pass of 11 yards from Tre Cobb to Tristan Shafer.
"The 2019 team will be remembered for how well they represented the school, our program and community," Hastings noted. "Their growth as a team and individually cannot be measured by a win-loss record. It will ultimately be by what these young men become moving forward in their lives."
Senior team captains are Barragan-Peterson, Gill, Shafer and Jason Peres. Other seniors concluding their prep playing days are Green, Cobb, Cameron Green, Trevor O'Toole, Kyle Campos, Matt Della, Dominic Santarelli, Nick Riffle, Will Tucker, Eric Valdez, Andy Medina, Matthew Teeling, George Munoz, Julian Audrey, Kyle Caulson, Louis Daniels and Daniel Sheldon.