Football Gets Snubbed From Playoffs

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On Saturday, Nov. 11, the Mt SAC football team squared off against the number 2 ranked team in the state Riverside City College in a showdown that many believed would determine the SCFA Central League championship. Riverside was undefeated and had beaten Mt. SAC a season ago; however, the Mounties were not intimidated and refused to let history repeat itself en route to a thrilling 24-17 victory.

“That game in general is what we came to Mt. SAC for,” sophomore Zachary Curry said, “It was the opportunity to play for a championship and compete against the best people we could compete against; we did what we were supposed to do and shut them down.”

It was believed that Mt. SAC had won conference and clinched a spot in the CCCAA playoffs; however, the SCFA had different plans.

On the morning of Sunday, November 12, the 2017 playoff matchups were released. Four teams were selected: undefeated Fullerton, Riverside City (9-1), Ventura (8-2), and at-large bid Saddleback (8-2). Mt. SAC (8-2) was left out of the state playoffs despite having beaten Ventura earlier in the season and holding victories over the two teams that beat Saddleback, and instead was given a berth in the Western State Bowl against College of the Canyons (8-2).

The emotions of the players ranged wide, but it clearly hurt to have their season cut short after many were so sure they had earned a playoff spot.

“After the Long Beach game, our coaches told us that if we win out, we’re straight,” Curry said. “I woke up the next day and seen we got robbed. Two teams that we beat were in the playoffs and a team that made the playoffs over us lost to both of those teams; but that’s none of my business.”

“Saturday night felt great, we beat a team that we weren’t supposed to beat,”sophomore Brandon Larry said. “It’s just crazy because the whole team thought we were in, we thought we were for sure that fourth seed; but you can’t really get mad at things that are out of your control.”

“At this point, it is what it is,” sophomore BJ Hawthorne said. “We can’t really blame anybody but ourselves; we messed up by losing to Long Beach, a team that was underneath us and dug ourselves into this hole.”

How did this happen? Mt. SAC beat one of the top teams not just in California, but in the entire country. Many people thought they had won conference by doing so, but not according to the Southern California Football Association.

Despite being the fourth ranked team in Southern California by the CCCAA in the polls, the SCFA gave Mt. San Antonio the sixth seed, opting instead to put the number five ranked Saddleback as the fourth seed.

“The teams were all ranked according to a Power Ranking Index (RPI) that all the SCFA coaches and athletic directors voted and agreed upon that this was the formula we were going to use,” said John Cicuto, president of the SCFA. “When we used that formula, they were not the fourth team.”

The RPI is determined by three factors: a team’s winning percentage, their opponent’s winning percentage, and the winning percentage of the teams their opponents played. In Mt. SAC’s case, their percentages were 35 percent, 40 percent, and 25 percent.

When Mt. SAC defeated Riverside, it created a three-way tie for first place in the Central League with Mt SAC, Riverside, and Long Beach. In these such cases, the RPI is used to determine which team gets the playoff spot, and the formula determined that Riverside would get the bid as conference champions. The same formula was used of the at-large berth, which also determined that Saddleback would get into the playoffs over Mt. SAC. No other factors, such as head-to-head victories, poll rankings, or common opponents are considered when determining the playoff teams.

Despite getting the short end of the stick, the Mounties still had one more game to play before they call it quits this season. On Nov. 18, Mt. SAC travelled to College of the Canyons to compete in the Western State Bowl. COC is the fifth seed and therefore was given the home game. The Mounties lost 28-16 against College of the Canyons.

“They got a good team, they’re 8-2 for a reason,” said Hawthorne. “But we’re 8-2 for a reason too. This is one more opportunity to play with my brothers, one last ride.”