CIF State Football Championships Boost High School Recruiting

CIF State Football Playoffs Increase Exposure for California Preps.

The talent pool of student-athletes spread throughout California’s high schools is no mystery. However, West Coast preps seem to lack the national exposure granted to other sports recruits in U.S. States throughout the South and Midwest, such as Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida.

For those of us who share the above sentiment, it’s easy to see how a State high school football playoff format has the potential to help increase the exposure of California prep athletes.

Prior to 2006, it was always a surprise to me that other States used the playoff format to decide State football champions, while California high school football ended with the CIF Section playoffs. Well, here’s how things shaped up.

In 2006, the California Interscholastic Federation implemented changes in the CIF State Football Championship structure. For the first time in the cavernous history of the CIF, it was decided that a playoff structure would determine California’s prep football champions. Below is a summary of what has happened during the six years since the new format was adopted.

Year one.

The almighty powerhouse of De La Salle falls to Canyon Country and CIF Southern Section schools sweep the championships. De La Salle’s 41 game playoff winning streak was halted.

As if the heated arguments pitting Norcal vs. Socal needed any more fuel for the fire.

Year two.

Oceanside takes home Division II CIF title, and Socal’s St. Bonaventure wins Division III Championship. De La Salle battles Corona Centennial and reclaims the CIF throne in Division I.

Year three.

More flavors into the mix, and classic rematch. Small School Division and Open Division added. Grant High School (Sacramento) jumps into the national spotlight beating Socal football factory Long Beach Poly. St. Bonaventure wins the CIF title for the second consecutive season in Division III. Corona Centennial avenged 2007’s painful loss to De La Salle by beating the Spartans 21-16.

Year four.

The 2009 CIF State Football Championships were exciting, to say the least, and featured Crenshaw High School and De’anthony “Black Mamba” Thomas. The Cougars had their season come to an end early in the second quarter vs. De La Salle when University of Oregon Ducks preseason Heisman candidate Thomas went down with an ankle injury.

Serra High School’s CIF Championship team featured Robert Woods (USC), Devon Spann (ASU), Jason Gibson (Cal), George Farmer (USC), David Moala (ASU), Conner Preston (SMU), Paul Richardson (Colorado) & countless other Cavaliers who now play at the NCAA FBS & FCS levels. After winning the 2007 CIF title in Division II, Oceanside High School stepped up to Division I and took home the 2009 CIF State Football Championship.

Year five.

Norcal high schools took home 4 of 5 CIF State Football titles in 2010. Palo Alto returned to the big game for the first time since 2006, but this time at the Division I level. The Vikings beat familiar Socal football program Corona Centennial in a hard fought battle, 15-13. De La Salle was victorious in the CIF Open Division for the second consecutive year. Small School Division renamed to Division IV. The Bishop’s School wins in a lopsided victory 40-14 over Brookside Christian.

Year six.

De La Salle returns to true powerhouse form and takes home the crown for the third straight season in the CIF Open Division. Most games were close in the 2011 CIF State Football Playoffs, and Socal schools took home 4 of 5 titles. Washington Union won the Division III game, and featured highly-touted recruits Deontay Greenberry (WR, Houston) & Tee Shepard (DB, Notre Dame).