No more flips for football |

No more flips for football

The passing of the tie-breaker bylaw for high school football was easy to miss. Sac-Joaquin Section officials didn’t exactly post a flashing sign about it on Highway 49 and I certainly didn’t give it much ink the day it became official, either.

But come November, coaches and players around the section had better be familiar with the rule, because their playoff hopes may hinge on the new guidelines.

In last week’s Board of Managers meeting, the section adopted a 13-point tie-breaker system to determine seeds and playoff berths for tied teams. Meaning, if two playoff spots exist and three teams finish the season in a three-way tie with identical league records, the spots and seeds will be decided by a specific formula versus a random toss of our currency.

Cue the applause now.

Let’s explore an actual situation that occurred last fall. After Colfax beat Bear River 30-20, Bear River beat Oakmont 38-15 and Oakmont beat Colfax 14-7, the three Pioneer Valley League teams all finished with 5-1 league records.

With only two playoff spots for the league this past fall, one team had to be eliminated. Realistically, Oakmont was eliminated after being the odd team out of the coin flip, but let’s use the new system to see what will happen in the future.

The first step is to look at head-to-head, but all three teams beat one another so we must move on. Next up is the 13-point differential in head-to-head competition between the three teams.

This step compares the number of points a team won a game by, minus the number of points it lost a contest. However, the points are capped at 13, meaning if a team wins by more than 13 points it does not matter – the maximum number that can be added or subtracted is 13. Having the points capped at 13 is way to guard against teams running up scores on one another.

According to the formula, Bear River’s number would be three. The Bruins beat Oakmont by more than 13 points so they receive 13 positive points. They lost to Colfax by 10 so they would receive 10 negative points. The total then is three.

Colfax would have earned three points as well, with Oakmont sitting at negative six.

With Bear River and Colfax tied at three, it would go back to head-to-head. Colfax would move on as the No. 1 seed from the PVL.

The two remaining teams, Bear River and Oakmont would go head-to-head again, with Bear River moving on because of its win.

In the case that all three teams tied again, even with the new 13-point system, the next step would be defensive points allowed up to 13 points.

The state of Nevada currently uses a similar system.

“I like anything that gives the kids more chances to decide what happens on the field instead of using a coin flip,” Nevada Union head football coach Dave Humphers said.

I couldn’t agree more.

Just imagine being a coach and having to tell your team, “You guys only lost one game this season, but unfortunately because my coin landed face up and two other landed face down – your season is over.”

A four-month season – plus countless off-season workouts – decided on the mind of a hunk of medal. Ouch.

Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue also speaks favorably of the new system, noting he’s happy with the 13-point capping rule to avoid running up scores.

“The idea is not to lose games you shouldn’t,” Logue said.

Both Humphers and Logue have fretted their way through coin toss situations and are excited to see how the new system will work.

I guess if it doesn’t work we can always go to the rock, paper and scissors strategy. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see!

Last summer, during my triathlon experience I wrote about a Nevada Union graduate, Jeff Hultman, who was doing missionary work in Japan and decided to try a triathlon.

The experience did not end up suiting him, but he did fall in love with running. Since July he has run two full-length marathons.

On May 12, he will tackle the 100-kilometer (62.5 mile) Midnight Run to Hedo on his island of Okinawa for a great cause. He and a friend are raising money for the Misato Children’s home in Okinawa City.

In all the years the home has been open, only three of its children have made it to college – only one is still fighting to graduate. The money Jeff and his friend can raise from their run will go toward a scholarship fund for the home.

If you would like to help Jeff with his run, contact his home base church here in Grass Valley, the Church of Christ, at 273-0401 or send donations to the church at 670 Whiting St., Grass Valley 95945.

Sportswriter Stacy Hicklin’s column usually appears on Wednesdays. To contact her e-mail or call 477-4244.

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