Monday, December 21, 2009

Final High School Football Weekend

This past weekend marked the final games of the year for high school football.

Per chance I tuned in to live coverage on Friday afternoon of the Florida State AAA Championship Game in Orlando's Citrus Bowl Stadium between the 13-1 Pensacola Tigers and the 11-3 Belen Jesuit Wolverines out of Miami.

This game, that I completely stumbled upon, had a little bit more special meaning than most for two reasons. First, Belen Jesuit ran my beloved Delaware Wing-T offense and secondly, my Father, Jorge, graduated from Belen Jesuit!

Their logo says ". . .since 1854 . . ."

But the City of Miami had only been chartered in 1896 and my Father was born and raised in Cuba, how could this be his Alma Mater?

The Wolverines

Let's face it, Wolverines would really not cut it as a team nickname in Havana where my Dad went to high school.

So what is the story?

Belen Jesuit's Havana Campus

Like all things Cuban, the answer was simple . . .
Fidel Castro of course!

In 1961 due to Castro's revolution, Belen Jesuit picked up stakes and moved to Miami to further their goal of educating Cubans who were now gathering in their new homes in Miami!

In 1960, the last time my Dad took the family to Cuba, he took me to Belen to see this awesome campus, I was really impressed at the time to say the least. Today his old campus is the Cuban equivalent to our West Point Military Academy.

In an ironic twist to this story of Catholic education in exhile, it should be noted that Fidel is himself a Belen Jesuit graduate! Fidel was born eight years after my Father, so they did not know each other in their youth. They both are also alumni of the University of Habana.

The University of Habana Indians, now there is a nickname!

Oh, by the way, despite my cheering, Pensacola won a very hard fought game game 28-7.

Meanwhile back in California. . .

California was also hosting its version of "State Championship Games" somewhat akin to the NCAA's BCS madness.

Why the quotation marks you ask? Simple, unlike Florida that holds a Championship Tournament, California has opted for four years now to hold season ending Bowl Games.

Some background on our state's situation is needed at this point. California has a total of 1,475 high schools who are members of the California Interscholastic Federation (C.I.F.), the governing body for high school athletics in the Golden State.

As the term Federation implies, the state is broken down into ten autonomous geographic Sections that are definitely not equal in size. The two smallest Sections are Oakland with six schools and San Francisco with 12 schools fielding athletic teams.

The Southern Section, of which Rio Mesa H.S. is a member, is the largest Section by far with a whopping 576 schools.

It is up to each Section to hold its own playoffs to determine its champions. In Oakland and San Francisco it is basically determing a league winner, while the Southern Section holds football playoffs in 15 divisions including two 8-man divisions.

When all of these Sectional playoffs are concluded, over 50 Section champions have been crowned.

Then, on a Sunday morning after the last playoff game is played, the ten Section Commisioners lock themselves into a room to decide which of these 50+ champions will be selected to play in the four enrollment based Bowl Games plus the one Open Bowl between the perceived two best teams in California regardless of enrollment. The Commissiners will decide who earns the chance to call themselves "STATE CHAMPION" if they can win one more game!

These Bowl games to be played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, pit a Southern California team against a Northern California team in each case. If the two best teams are both in the same half of the state, it is just too bad.

Talk about the potential for politics and hair splitting.

New Catania Elephants coach Mel Galli's Mission Bay squad went 13-0 in the San Diego Section playoffs but did not get chosen. Locally, Westlake H.S. was also not able to parlay their 14-0 Championship season into state gold.

Who made it to Carson and how did they do?

Small Schools
Modesto Christian (15-0) 44 - Francis Parker (12-2) 40

Divison III
Gardena Serra (15-0) 24 - Marin Catholic (13-2) 20

Division II
Servite (14-1) 33 - Rocklin (14-1) 30

Division I
Oceanside (14-0) 24 - Bellarmine Prep (11-2-1) 19

Open Division
De La Salle (13-2) 28 - Crenshaw (14-1) 14

Two games live on TV Friday and the other three on Saturday. All five were GREAT games to watch featuring very evenly matched teams and high drama but I still would like to see a true playoff instead of annointing State Champions by committee to a large extent.

Kind of like my stance on the BCS isn't it.

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