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And then something struck me

GRANT'S TOMB:

November 30, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, SPORTS EDITOR

Something struck me last Friday as I stood on the sidelines of the Granite Hills High School football field watching Holtville's playoff game with Christian.

It wasn't Holtville running back Frank Lopez, although he did come awfully close to running me over on one particular play. It wasn't that former NFL quarterback and current Christian offensive coordinator Jay Schroeder looks really old, either (even though he truly does). No, what struck me was that the team from Holtville should not have been suffering such an inglorious exit from the Division IV playoffs.

I mean, how does a school with enrollment of under 400 go about upending a school whose enrollment is more than 600? The final score was 69-13 and the team from Christian scored every time it had the ball with the exception of the final time and on that particular possession it chose to down the ball three times and run out the clock.

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Sorry, I think I got off track. My point is that the team from Holtville was a good Division IV football team. This is a team that had played bigger schools all season long. This was a team that had even gone so far up the division ladder that it took on Calexico, a Division II school, and played Calexico competitively. What this team was not is a team that should have been routed in the playoffs, much less a team that should have been routed in the first round of the playoffs.

Let's face it. We all know the reason Holtville took a quick trip out of the playoffs and just why the team from Christian is still playing. I, for one, think it's time for this to stop. Come on San Diego Section, get the private schools out of the public schools' divisions. It's just not fair that these schools can recruit players from anywhere to play for them while public schools must play the cards which are dealt them.

This is not the first time our local schools have been unceremoniously knocked from the playoffs. Our smaller schools have had so much trouble competing with the private schools that some have chosen to not even play in the playoffs. Two years ago a pretty good team from Imperial declined to play and this year Calipatria chose not to accept an invitation to the playoffs as well.

Don't think our schools are the only ones who don't relish the thought of a season ending beating either. No, I've been told the team from Mountain Empire declined to play in this season's playoffs as well.

I'm sure some of you are questioning just why a team would deny its players a chance to compete in the postseason. Well, I'm inclined to agree with you. It seems better to go into the playoffs and get beaten rather than not go at all. However, I think we should give these schools who have boycotted a bit of credit. At least they are taking a stand in the hopes that something could change.

And change seems to be the key word. What needs to happen is that all the private schools should be put in their own division and then they can all beat up on each other in that division. I don't begrudge any of these schools any of the success they have gotten. In fact, I say good for them.

Their kids deserve to be successful and have the chance to win championships, but so do the kids at public schools. With the way things are in the San Diego Section now, I doubt very seriously that any Division IV school will be winning the football (or any other sports) championship any time soon.

Just think how this would make you feel if you were a player at a public school. At the beginning of practice in August you would work hard, hoping your team could win the league title. All the while you know in the back of your mind that your reward for winning that league title is going to be a beating in the first round of the playoffs. That's certainly nothing to look forward to and I'd like anyone to tell me otherwise.

I guess I've said my peace. Ultimately this is not my fight, but instead the fight of the people whose children go to these schools, who root for these schools or who just want to see things played out fairly. Unless things change, then year in and year out we are going to see good teams (like Holtville's) get sent packing in an ugly manner, which, in my opinion, is no good for anyone.

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