Playoffs not a fair test this time around

Sierra Scoop
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Many Colfax High fans were puzzled this week as their outstanding soccer and baseball teams faced some unfamiliar foes in the playoffs, and for good reason. The Falcons more than held their own throughout the regular season. The soccer squad was undefeated in the Pioneer Valley League. Coach Lefty Wilks guided one of the finest teams to ever line up on the Colfax pitch. Mike McCabe?s inspired baseball team hung with the best in the PVL all season, stunning Lincoln twice in the final week of the regular season to make the postseason. Colfax is accustomed to its status as the smallest school in the PVL with an enrollment of 855. The Falcons welcome the challenge of taking on the likes of Placer (1,335 enrollment), Lincoln (1,497), Center (1,361) and Foothill (1,287). In the playoffs this spring, the odds were stacked squarely against Colfax as it competed in Division III. The Falcon soccer squad hosted Rodriguez (enrollment 2,234). The Colfax baseball nine faced Yuba City (1,625). Both teams put up valiant fights. The soccer team out-played Rodriguez for much of the 80 minutes, but the regulation and overtime sessions left the game tied at 2-2 and the visitors won by a goal in a penalty kick shootout. Yuba City ousted Colfax with a 4-0 win on Thursday. The Honkers are one of the top teams in the region, regardless of division. The last playoff realignment (in 2009) emphasized team participation with each league guaranteed three playoff berths. It was a noble goal, but the realignment obviously left a lot to be desired in terms of establishing a level playing field. The section?s playoff committee strives to create fair competition for all teams, but it clearly has failed when schools like Colfax and Rodriguez are battling in a Division III postseason game. The problem is, the Solano County Athletic Conference was lumped into Division III with the PVL, the Capital Athletic League and the Tri-County Conference. In some sports the SCAC (and the TCC for that matter) struggle to compete against the traditional powers of the PVL and the CAL. But in certain sports (soccer, basketball) the SCAC and TCC schools are able to dominate. Enrollment should be the ultimate deciding factor when it comes to organizing divisional playoffs. Section officials worked out a system in football that seems to work nicely. The postseason teams are determined by their finish in league play and then divided up into divisions based on enrollment. It?s a complex system that has some drawbacks, but ultimately it makes for a level playing field. It might be tough to implement the football system for all sports, but when realignment comes around (for the 2014-15 school year) something should be done. The bottom line? Each team should have a chance to compete for its respective title against schools of equal size. ? Northern Arizona football coaches were in Le Febvre Stadium last week. No, the Lumberjacks aren?t hoping to shock the world and land Placer High?s national recruit Eddie Vanderdoes. They were checking out Vanderdoes? teammate Peter Denham. The quarterback impressed, landing a scholarship offer from the longtime Big Sky Conference school. Look for the skilled Denham to draw even more attention after he attends combines and camps throughout the summer. He?ll also get plenty of exposure from scouts at Placer games in the fall. Vanderdoes meanwhile, continues to be wooed by countless coaches from all over the country. Between playoff baseball games last week, the Vanderdoes family chatted with Alabama head coach Nick Saban on Skype. That national championship trophy behind Saban had to be distracting for Vanderdoes. ? Paul Litchfield is getting a great send-off from some neighbors as he makes his final push toward his Olympic dream. The pole vaulter from Bear River High has been featured in a series of articles in the Journal this spring as he gears up for the U.S. Olympic Trials next month in Eugene, Ore. Several readers have pitched in to financially support Litchfield in his venture and one family is hosting a send-off party/fundraiser for Litchfield this week near Lake of the Pines. After training on a homemade facility at his parents? house for the past two months, Litchfield is headed to the Olympic Training Center in San Diego to gear up for the Trials. Read more about Litchfield and check out his custom t-shirts at Todd Mordhorst?s column runs Sundays in the Journal. Follow him on Twitter @AJToddM.