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What if: A Northern Section only football schedule

West Valley High's captains line up before the Northern Section Division III semifinal at home against Paradise in November. The Eagles beat five Shasta County teams in 2019. (FILE -- Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

By Monday we’ll know if they California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) plans to go for the proverbial 3rd-and-long and opt to play a regular fall high school football season or if it will punt the calendar back to some time in 2021 due to the coronavirus.

Odds are the CIF will opt for the latter and try to condense the fall, winter and spring schedules into a narrow window beginning in January and running through the end of the school year.

We are craving sports as much as anyone and hope they return in some form — seriously, how many home improvement projects can we tackle? But what if the state comes on Monday and says “We’re moving the state championships back to next year, but you, as an individual section, are free to schedule your year as you wish.” Is going it alone, especially in far Northern California, such a bad option, even given that it would mean forgoing a shot at a state title?

The Shasta County Sports staff have been mulling that over for months — what else do we have to do without sports — and have come up with a plan to have fall football … done regionally with like-sized schools, (mostly) in neighboring counties competing and then meeting for a section crown.

Under our scenario, there would be six league games, one preseason crossover game and one bye with the season beginning in late September/early October. The idea behind this would be to limit out-of-county matchups as best as possible. With how spread out the Northern Section is makes this difficult and how schools with similar enrollments range in two to four per county.

This is even more possible now that Shasta Union High School District announced Wednesday a full return in person for all students five days a week as part of Phase 3 of the SUHSD Board re-opening plan. There are safety protocols in place from, which includes all students and teachers wear face coverings on campus in addition to a variety of other social distancing measures.

The top four teams from each division — North and South — would earn a playoff berth with seeding formula to be fleshed out. The Northern Section could go with its usual three-part playoff seeding formula equally balancing out overall record, league record and strength of schedule.

Playoffs would begin either Nov. 13 or 20 depending on the season start date.

Large Schools

North Large School League
School County Enrollment
Red Bluff Tehama 1,620
Shasta Shasta 1,494
Foothill Shasta 1,437
Enterprise Shasta 1,191
Corning Tehama 1,009
West Valley Shasta 894
Anderson Shasta 628


South Large School League
School County Enrollment
PV Butte 1,957
Chico Butte 1,769
Las Plumas Butte 1,140
Wheatland Yuba 782
Lassen Lassen 750
Sutter Sutter 737
Paradise Butte 643


Large School Crossover games (comp equity)
Out of league games
Red Bluff Las Plumas 1,620 1,140
Shasta PV 1,494 1,957
Foothill Chico 1,437 1,769
Corning Paradise 1,009 643
Enterprise Lassen 1,191 750
WV Sutter 894 737
Anderson Wheatland 628 782

Small Schools

Additionally, the formula works for a Small School League, divided into three geographic regions — North, Central and South.

The North and Central would play four league games with two crossover contests; the South would have five league and one crossover.

The eight-team playoff bracket would draw the top two from each league and two at-large teams.

North Small School League
School County Enrollment
Yreka Siskiyou 605
CV Shasta 592
U-Prep Shasta 483
Trinity Trinity 320
Mt Shasta Siskiyou 271


Central Small School League
School County Enrollment
Oroville Butte 985
Orland Glenn 724
Gridley Butte 655
Willows Glenn 466
Durham Butte 316


South Small School League
School County Enrollment
Live Oak Sutter 547
Winters Yolo 469
Pierce Colusa 434
Colusa Colusa 411
Williams Colusa 400
East Nic Sutter 312


Small School Crossover games (comp equity)
Oroville Live Oak 985 547
Oroville Yreka 985 605
Yreka Orland 605 724
CV Winters 592 469
CV Gridley 592 655
U-Prep East Nic 483 312
U-Prep Orland 483 724
Gridley Colusa 655 411
Willows Williams 466 400
Trinity Willows 320 466
Trinity Durham 320 316
Durham Mt Shasta 316 271
Mt Shasta Pierce 271 434

Division V

Similar to the Large and Small School Leagues, the bottom 10 schools based on enrollment are split into two geographical regions to fill out the rest of the 11-man division. This would require dropping Hamilton (the smallest D-IV team in terms of enrollment) into D-V to get the round number of 10 teams. To be fair, Hamilton only has 27 more students than Modoc, the largest D-V school.

Splitting the division into two five-team leagues — North and South — gives each team four league games and two crossover games based on competitive equity. The six games aligns with the Large and Small School to keep everything on the same schedule.

North D-V League
School County Enrollment
Modoc Modoc 236
Los Molinos Glenn 222
Etna Siskiyou 190
Weed Siskiyous 185
Fall River Shasta 161


South D-V League
School County Enrollment
Hamilton Glenn 263
Quincy Plumas 206
Biggs Butte 196
Portola Plumas 172
Maxwell Colusa 99


D-V Crossover games (comp equity)
Fall River Biggs 161 196
Weed Maxwell 185 99
Los Molinos Hamilton 222 263
Etna Quincy 190 172
Modoc Portola 236 172
Los Molinos Biggs 222 196
Etna Portola 190 172
Modoc Quincy 236 206
Fall River Hamilton 161 263
Weed Maxwell 185 99

8-man football

The 8-man football division in the Northern Section is already set up for this type of situation with 16 teams evenly split into a North and South. Each team can play seven league games (each team once) and then have the top two teams from each league make the four-team, two-week long playoff to stay on track with the rest of the Northern Section.

The playoff format would call for the league winner to host the opposite league’s runner up. The winners meet for the section championship.

The SCS crew split up the division to make more sense geographically and tried to keep neighboring counties together with Siskiyou and Shasta.

North 8-man South 8-man
Burney Shasta Big Valley Lassen
Redding Chr. Shasta Herlong Lassen
Butte Valley Siskiyou Westwood Lassen
Dunsmuir Siskiyou Chester Plumas
Happy Camp Siskiyou Greenville Plumas
McCloud Siskiyou Loyalton Sierra
Tulelake Siskiyou Mercy Tehama
Hayfork Trinity Princeton Colusa

Staff Reports is content produced by the Shasta County Sports team.


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