This fall marks the first time in CIF Southern Section history that schools will be placed in football playoff divisions based upon a competitive equity formula, the factors of which are comprised of regular season record, strength of schedule and Southern Section playoff performance over a two-year period. What it means is that schools from the same league will be placed in different playoff divisions for the first time ever. Competitive equity playoff-placement has been in use in basketball for many years, and now football will follow suit. Based on the formula factors listed above, schools will be reevaluated on an annual basis.
Prior to the decision to go the competitive equity route made by the Southern Section this spring, all playoff-eligible football teams from each league competed in the same playoff division. One of the most obvious examples of non-equitable results under the former system was the Moore League. Longtime power L.B. Poly was traditionally an annual Division I contender, but the other Moore League schools were usually nowhere near Division I caliber. Under the new format, Poly will be the only Moore League school eligible to participate in the elite Division 1 playoffs this fall.
Loyola has always been a Large Schools football playoff participant, and has competed in the Southern Section playoffs 45 times since private schools first were invited to the post season playoffs in the 1940s. The Cubs have won six CIF Southern Section Large Schools titles (1962,1963, 1975,1990, 2003, 2005) and have finished as runners-up (1946, 1964, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2000) six additional times. The names of the top playoff division beginning when there was more than one playoff circuit have been Large Schools, AAAA, Big Five Conference, Division I and Pac-5 Division.
When the Southern Section announced its football playoff divisions for this fall on June 17, Loyola made the Division 1 cut, in large measure based on the exploits of last season’s 9-3 squad that finished the 2015 campaign ranked 17th in the state. The Mission League is considered the second best league in California, and that played a large role in the strength of schedule factor.
There were only 18 schools selected for Division 1 playoff participation out of 401 section schools that participate in 11-man football. They are, in order of formula ranking: (1) Corona Centennial, (2) St. John Bosco, (3) Mission Viejo, (4) Mater Dei, (5) Bishop Amat, (6) Vista Murrieta, (7) Gardena Serra, (8) JSerra Catholic, (9) Orange Lutheran, (10) Servite, (11) L.B. Poly, (12) LOYOLA, (13) Santa Margarita, (14)Tesoro, (15) Upland, (16) Rancho Cucamonga, (17) Alemany and (18) Chaminade. The only Mission League schools that were not selected for the Division 1 field were Notre Dame (ranked 19th) - the Knights are the number one ranked squad in Division 2 - and Crespi (ranked no. 29 and 11th in Div. 2).
Sixteen of the eighteen Division I teams will make the playoffs, which means that five of the seven Mission League squads will be vying to clinch a berth. Loyola will likely have to win no less than three of six league games to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year.