The new game

Luca
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The new game

Post by Luca »

The numbers show a pretty stark picture of how Division I football - especially parochial football - has changed over the last 10 or so years in Orange County and the CIF.

Of the six Trinity League teams, four of them have one D1 titles over the 11 years: Orange Lutheran in 2006, Servite in 2009 and 2010, Santa Margarita in 2011, St. John Bosco in 2013 and 2016. Only JSerra - which has only become competitive over the last five years – and Mater Dei have not won titles.

But there is more to the story than that. In 2006, Orange Lutheran went 4-1 in league, losing to Servite and almost Mater Dei while outscoring its four opponents (JSerra forfeited in those days) by an average of just 9 points.

In 2009 and 2010, Servite went 10 – 0 in league but with four of those victories fairly close, by 10 points or less, while outscoring its league opponents by an average of just over 18 points.

In 2011, Santa Margarita went 3-2 in league outscoring its opponents by an average of only 7 points.

By comparison, St. John Bosco since 2013 has gone 23 – 2 in league losing only to - you guessed it - Mater Dei. If you subtract those two games versus Mater Dei they had between 2013 and 2016 outscored their league components by an average of 35 points, falling off to a mere 22 points this year.

Mater Dei since 2015 has gone 13 – 2 in league, losing only to JSerra and – you guessed it – St. John Bosco. If you subtract their games versus Bosco they have outscored their league opponents by an average of 36 points for the last three years.

Why the abrupt disparity the last five years? Have Coaches Negro and Rollinson and their staffs suddenly become incomparable tacticians? Have the other Trinity league teams tanked? Obviously "no" to both questions. In fact, the Trinity league top to bottom has probably never been stronger than over the last two years.

We all know what has happened. It has long been understood for as long as the CIF has existed that athletic transfers and recruitment of athletes whether from other high schools or from junior high/elementary schools was verboten. It happened, of course, but the occurrences were for whatever reason relatively uncommon. In Orange County basketball, the dam broke with the appearance of Coach Gary McKnight and the regular transfer of elite basketball players into the program. As I don't pay much attention to high school basketball any more, I don't know exactly when that dam broke but as a result there is no competitiveness in local high school basketball, with Mater Dei winning its last 102 league games. The team is now euphemistically referred to as a "national program." It sure as hell is not a local one and like many previous fans I don't give a damn about the sport anymore.

The MD football program starting circa 1990 delved into those waters to a much lesser degree but it was still the start of the Orange County flood. It's partisans will undoubtedly disagree with that assessment but recall the old adage that "No single drop ever feels it is responsible for the flood."

But it really hit the fan several years ago when Coach Jason Negro took over at St. John Bosco and it seemed as though suddenly there were no ethical restrictions. Bosco simply sold out. Suddenly you had teams with a dozen or more Division I athletes. As I recall, MDDad told me that in one of the recent St. John Bosco /Centennial championship contests each team had some 20+ athletic transfers. It took them a few years but eventually Mater Dei followed suit and that is why we have the numbers that we see above.......................


It was in 1999 that I started posting on HSFB boards. Transfers and recruiting were universally reviled and whenever there were complaints about either the standard defenses changed over time from
"No we don't", evolving into
"You can't prove it", evolving into
"What are we supposed to do when kids just show up at the admissions office"", evolving into
"It's a free country, why can't kids just play where they want to?", evolving into
"Okay, so we recruit, but XYZ High School does it more than we do" evolving into
"It's a new era, that's the way it is, we just go with the flow".

It never occurred to me over the years that high school sports were supposed to be about just winning games. I had always supposed that high school sports were simply an extension of the high school curriculum, that it developed the concepts of school rivalries, loyalty, teamwork, school esprit de corps, integrity, concerted effort, striving for common goals and lifelong friendship. We had honest rivalries and an opportunity to outcompete our opponents on the field and in the off-season to achieve success. It was great if you could win some games while developing those values. But simply winning was never the goal. Until now

If it's just quality football that I want to see, I can walk a couple miles over to Saddleback College and watch them play Fullerton to see a far higher level of play. Have you ever watched girls club soccer? The quality is much better than high school but the attendance is almost nil and nobody gives a damn who wins,. Even the parents are mostly interested in their own kids performing well individually. You go to a high school soccer game and there are more fans and much more intensity because games actually mean something. There are rivalries, our school versus your school and it means something special to the players, students and parents.

Coach Rollinson once told me that he was trying to build a rivalry with Santa Margarita. If so, he has fornicated that plan royally over the last few years. We are not watching mere high school teams in the Trinity League anymore. The games are not won on the field. They are won in the admissions office and by the recruiting networks. And it's going to stay that way. It won't go back.

So for the first time in over 50 years, I really don't care that much about HSFB anymore. I have to admit it makes me sad. I didn't think I would ever say that, but the game has changed enough that I don't recognize it for what I was once passionate about. And that is why I don't - and won't - post much anymore.

I can predict what the responses will be from the partisans of the programs in question. And maybe they’re right. Maybe this is the way it's supposed to be, an emphasis on winning, schools seeking the best athletes they can find and parents/kids striving for personal attention and the best "supporting cast", as Michael Jordan used to say.

Maybe my perspective is antiquated, quaint even. What’re the case, you are welcome to the modern edition of HSFB, but I think it's time for me to find another hobby. You won't be subjected to my interminable posts and I can move on.

Win/win. Best of luck to you all..............................Luca
frankieboy1
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Re: The new game

Post by frankieboy1 »

It's pretty much this way in the Trinity League in general, regardless of sport/gender. The top team in the league is generally a contender for CIF/State Division 1/Open titles.

Examples:

MD/SJB (football)
MD basketball
JSerra baseball
JSerra x-country
MD water polo

SM/MD girls volleyball
MD girls basketball
JSerra/SM soccer
MD/SM softball
SM/JSerra swimming

SM's real rivalry is with JSerra, not MD....
frankieboy1
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Re: The new game

Post by frankieboy1 »

I will say that watching really good HSFB teams like SM, JSerra and Mission Viejo get beat by D-1 teams like MD/SJB takes the joy out of the game...
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Omar Bongo
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Re: The new game

Post by Omar Bongo »

Well Luca, if "an emphasis on winning" is a problem, then why do we keep score?

So you're pining for the good old days that you grew up with and are accustomed to? This is of course an extremely common complaint among people who have reached a certain age, not just regarding sports but all areas of culture/society. Who among us hasn't had the pleasure of having some old codger treat them to an "In MY day, ..." diatribe?

The inconvenient truth here is that invariably it's the participants, those who actually have a stake in the outcome, who are the primary drivers of change. The parents who see a chance for a free university education for their children, which these days no small thing indeed. The student-athletes who see that and a chance for some post-high school athletic glory (and, for the chosen few, the possible pro contract which will set them and their families up for life). And the schools, which are always looking for ways to fund ever-expanding programs and facilities. These are the people with "skin in the game" without whom these changes from times gone by would not have taken place.

I think it's perfectly naturally for you to pine for the good old days and decry the changes that have taken place in "your" game. But as I think you already suspect,
it was really only your game when you were on the field...for better or worse it's not your game anymore.

So save your value judgements for others like yourself who miss the "good old days" and don't trivialize the legitimate aspirations of people who are actually competing on the field of play. Don't be that old guy on the sidelines when you were on the field having the time of your life...you remember, that codger who was waving his cane at you and yelling "In MY day, ..."
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Professor Fate
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Re: The new game

Post by Professor Fate »

I'm sorry to hear that Luca is leaving our community. I hope he changes his mind and will miss his posts if he doesn't. I agree with everything he has said in the opening post, and I also am saddened by it.

I still feel the way to handle this is to divide the schools up into those who want to play by the old rules, and those who want an "anything goes" philosophy. I believe that most members of the Trinity League, who presently, out of necessity, allow, (and some encourage) incoming transfers, would choose to return to the old rules, saying good bye to those who wouldn't.

The Trinity League might then be made up of Servite, J Serra, Orange Lutheran, Santa Margarita, and could add others when they are ready, such as Crean Lutheran, St, Pius X, St. Paul, Damien, Bishop Amat, St. Margaret, or St. Anthony.

Mater Dei and St. John Bosco could be freelance teams.
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Playthegame
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Re: The new game

Post by Playthegame »

Funny or perhaps sad, I have been asking my self, do I want to spend Friday night at a game or doing something else...Now with NFL dorks wanting to protest vs actually doing something to make a diff and the changing of the game have to say I think I am out as well...I never thought the disparity would be this great...I miss the days of 1-3 point margins. Football is becoming passé. So predictable you know how the season will end by week two, 3 at the latest...ya I’m out...

Hilarious to hear Omar claim that the spare no expense super teams are needed so parents can get their kids free college and even pro contracts that could set their families up for life. The reality... as is usually the case with Omar, the exact opposite is true. Most college coaches will tell to work hard for your team, skip the camps and get good grades and they will find you. You don’t need to play for IMG to get noticed. Many pros money is mismanaged and squandered or as soon as the career ends divorce proceedings start then comes the BK filings... sad but true.

One thing about public school programs is the fact the job pays 3900 bucks vs much larger private school offerings. The disparity is glaring. Now it could be more at some schools but not much.

So what Luca has preached all these years is credible and Omar is like 0-29
TheFan
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Re: The new game

Post by TheFan »

Luca,

Of course we clearly understand where you are coming from but I think you need to move on from the Trinity and enjoy the lower divisions. This is what I have done and it is more refreshing. Rollo sold out, plain and simple, he is not the same person he was in 1990. Honestly I do not get families that send their kids to MD anymore. If your son wants to play football and pretty good, you get the pleasure of sponsoring at three or four star kid (suckers if you ask me) . Its not like he will receive a superior academic program etc...
TheFan
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Re: The new game

Post by TheFan »

Luca,

Of course we clearly understand where you are coming from but I think you need to move on from the Trinity and enjoy the lower divisions. This is what I have done and it is more refreshing. Rollo sold out, plain and simple, he is not the same person he was in 1990. Honestly I do not get families that send their kids to MD anymore. If your son wants to play football and pretty good, you get the pleasure of sponsoring at three or four star kid (suckers if you ask me) . Its not like he will receive a superior academic program etc...
TheFan
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Re: The new game

Post by TheFan »

Luca,

Of course we clearly understand where you are coming from but I think you need to move on from the Trinity and enjoy the lower divisions. This is what I have done and it is more refreshing. Rollo sold out, plain and simple, he is not the same person he was in 1990. Honestly I do not get families that send their kids to MD anymore. If your son wants to play football and pretty good, you get the pleasure of sponsoring at three or four star kid (suckers if you ask me) . Its not like he will receive a superior academic program etc...
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Ramon
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Re: The new game

Post by Ramon »

I'll miss my friend Luca...But I suspect the joy isn't there for him based on the board the way it currently is...This isn't the days of Nubster, Edac25, Cockroach, Trooper, WifeyWolverine, MaxCady, ForKicks, RSM789, KevinHurl, SoMelo, ATGeek Lurker82, Mendo, The Nug, Oceanvue & Credo4Life...I myself went MIA for a few years, starting an Insurance Agency and raising a new baby boy on the Autism Spectrum is very time consuming...But I'm back...I suspect we may see a few SMCHS long winded game reviews next year, you never know..Happy Trails Luca...Till we meet again
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Bick
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Re: The new game

Post by Bick »

Omar Bongo wrote: The inconvenient truth here is that invariably it's the participants, those who actually have a stake in the outcome, who are the primary drivers of change. The parents who see a chance for a free university education for their children, which these days no small thing indeed. The student-athletes who see that and a chance for some post-high school athletic glory (and, for the chosen few, the possible pro contract which will set them and their families up for life). And the schools, which are always looking for ways to fund ever-expanding programs and facilities. These are the people with "skin in the game" without whom these changes from times gone by would not have taken place.
I apologize for mis-reading you over on the political forum all this time. I didn't realize you were a free-market conservative. Welcome aboard!

My take is what we're witnessing are a few teams that have gotten really good at attracting talent from outside their neighborhood, and CIF / school district (aka gov't) rules which gives advantages to certain types of schools over those they compete against. In political parlance, they're picking the winners.

I don't have a problem with teams getting so good they dominate everyone else. Competition makes you get better. The problem remains there is a different set of rules handed down by CIF or school districts that drives the inequities in the playing field.
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TommyTrojan
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Re: The new game

Post by TommyTrojan »

I would extend an invitation to Luca or anyone else who is less enamored with the current system of recruiting players, to come watch any of the 60 or so schools in Orange County who are still about the local kids playing on a Thursday/Friday night. The quality of football can vary depending upon where you go, but the things you enjoyed about the game, the atmosphere, are still there. Plenty of options in South County to choose from; a home game every Friday night and some of the best snack bars around (perhaps that's just my priorities speaking there though).

I sat in the the MD crowd Friday and it felt pretty meh. Even the folks around me seemed that way. Not that they didn't care about the game, simply that they knew they were going to win and sports where you know the outcome in advance isn't a whole lot of fun (unless you are Biff in Back to the Future).
outsider
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Re: The new game

Post by outsider »

Luca, couldn't agree with you more.

I am an MD graduate and went to a couple of family events with fellow MD graduates this past weekend. Even with the potential march to a National Championship ,not once was MD football even a matter of conversation, the current team bears little resemblance to the tradition of families ,parishes, teams of old. That continuum has been disrupted/broken. There are very few feel good stories left in Division 1 football. The MD/SJB title game is like cheering for Microsoft VS. IBM.

However, i had posted earlier this year that there are still players/teams that give you hope for the future of HS football, but it is occurring at the lower division levels. There are OC teams (El Modena , Katella and Orange) that are going to the Championship for the first time in years. Those Kids and coaches have turned their programs around, I have seen those kids walk back home at night from practice, their dads didn't by them a car, or send out highlight films to Schools, They signed up, practiced hard and got their rewards.

I am reminded of the saying "The last shall be first, and the first shall be last". HS football is still alive, just not where we have been looking lately.
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Re: The new game

Post by templar83 »

TommyTrojan wrote:
I sat in the the MD crowd Friday and it felt pretty meh. Even the folks around me seemed that way.
Huh, interesting how different people interpret the world around them. I too was at the game on Friday and was seated in the MD crowd. The folks were loud and excited yelling encouragement to the team and giving each other high-fives when the team made plays. In fact the woman behind me apologized for bumping me during one of her exuberant displays of support explaining that "..this is Mater Dei and we get excited...". Place was packed and there seemed to be a lot of vocal support by all the MD people throughout the game. I guess I was just seated in a section of fans who weren't projecting a "whatever", er I mean meh, attitude....
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Re: The new game

Post by BuckW »

Frankie Boy,
While you are right with most of the sports you listed you are off on baseball. Jserra Baseball has never won a CIF title while representing the Trinity League. Santa Margarita and Mater Dei have won the DIV 1 title but Jserra has never made past the Semi's. There is no doubt they have had the talent but have never be able to finish the job.
warriorpower
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Re: The new game

Post by warriorpower »

=D> TT

For those of us who have been around lower division football for any length of time, the idea that any of this is new is naive and reflects the increasingly Trinity/MV-only focus of this board over the last decade. Recruiting might be more open, but it has always been present. The links between youth programs, clubs, clinics, sponsors, and high school staffs have gotten deeper, along with the rise of off-season passing tournament and showcase clinic culture, and technology and communication have allowed schools to increase the radius of their recruiting net, but the recruiting schools have always been playing a different game than the community schools. The only difference now is that everyone stopped pretending and CIF created a division structure to recognize it. It is hard to find sympathy for fans upset that their program has suddenly dropped its pretense. These programs have always been regional.

For the MAJORITY of schools in Orange County, football and athletics are still an extension of the educational mission of the school. Most schools feature teams of students who cannot afford or have never played a club sport, may not even have had access or exposure to organized youth sports, but who play games which matter deeply to them, their families, and their schools. Those programs and their rivalries just take place outside the privileged tunnel vision of this board. Skip the D1 title game; go watch Orange try to win its first title since 1929.

Get out there and support whatever school and program matters to you. If that's a D1 power, cool. If that is the school two blocks from you, cool. If that is your alma mater, cool. There are plenty of great programs, great coaches, great fans, and amazing kids to go support.
BuckW
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Re: The new game

Post by BuckW »

I also sat on the MD side and had the same feeling as TommyTrojan and where were the students. If that was a student section at the north end that was the weakest student section I've seen all year.

What was the most disappointing was the superstars failing to support the subs when Rollison emptied the bench. While some of their less talented teammates got some playing time the superstars sat with their backs to the field watching their highlights on the big screen behind the bench. This was with 3 to 4 minutes left in a blowout game. Coach Rodriguez even came over and said something to them and they completely ignore Coach Rod.
NJtoNYCtoSOC
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Re: The new game

Post by NJtoNYCtoSOC »

Don't go Luca...your posts are thoughtful, insightful and a great counter-balance to the juvenile trolling that runs rampant here.
cruiser
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Re: The new game

Post by cruiser »

So,in the end, don't follow these elite teams anymore and go follow another team or do
something else on Friday nights if it bothers one so much, easy; geez
ancient
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Re: The new game

Post by ancient »

I agree with Luca on every point.

MD/SJB football is like a prearranged marriage. It lacks romance but works for the parents.
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