October 31, 2006
Find your team

Question: I'm finding it very difficult to locate the newest Top 20, either online or in the paper. Can you help me with this please.I'm tracking a team and would like to see where you have them. Thank you.

-- Andy Garza

Answer: We publish the new rankings every Monday in the sports section. This Monday's are on Page C6 of sports. The poll also is on Sacbee.com. Go to sports, then the High School Sports link. The poll appears with the Prep Notes on Monday, Oct. 30. You have to click onto the notes, then scroll down to the poll. At this time, we don't separate the poll from the notes on Mondays.

-- Bill Paterson

October 31, 2006
Rankings rock

Question: As we get down to the last few games of the regular season, I'm following up on my question on the Bee providing rankings from Cal-Hi Sports or any of the other polls about the state bowl rankings. As you confirmed, they're only going to be used as guides. However, Del Oro (should they continue to win) appears to have the best shot of playing on Dec. 16 (in the D-2 final). To date, I haven't seen any poll info. If the Bee did run them, please let me know the day they were released.

-- Daro, Rocklin

Answer: Yes, we have been running the state bowl rankings the last two weeks and plan to continue to do so. The most recent CalHiSports.com rankings appeared on Friday, Oct. 27, Page C6. It runs with the weekly high school football schedule just below the list "This Week's Top Games."

-- Bill Paterson

October 26, 2006
Soccer stars

Question: How are soccer players recruited to colleges? With a such a fast growing sport in the United States, do scouts look at high school only or do they look into competitve clubs as well, for example Elk Grove United or Sacramento United soccer clubs?

--Oscar, Sacramento

Answer: It's rare if not almost impossible for a player who competes in high school only to receive a Division I college soccer scholarship. Most college recruiters focus on kids who play high-level competitive soccer and only at a handful of select major tournaments. There are some big misconceptions about college soccer scholarships. One has to be a special player, say national-team caliber, to earn a full-ride scholarship. The 300 or so NCAA Division I women's programs can only award a maximum of 12 scholarships a year and the 200 or so men's programs just 10 a year. And those are only the programs that are fully funded. A number of college programs may only offer half that number of scholarships. Virtually all split scholarship money by offering partials that might only amount to a few hundred dollars.

-- Bill Paterson

October 26, 2006
Preps on radio - yes

Question:I admire your work and knowledge. Covering high school sports can be a no-win proposition because parents and family think their high school tiddlywinks team needs the same ink as the Kings. You've answered them very fairly and truthfully. One thing, though, there is room on KHTK (the most likely outlet, since it's a sports station) for a high school/local sports talk show. A two-hour show talking local sports I think would really draw a huge, active audience. And Friday's Nevada Union/Elk Grove game will be huge. The loser may be out of the playoffs.

--John Hull, Elk Grove

Answer: As the interest in high school sports continues to grow, especially for football, I think radio and television are going to look to increase high school sports coverage, and a few already have. It makes sense. People can see A's, Giants' 49ers' and Kings' highlights on ESPN, FOX Sports, etc. Some local television sportscasters these days are devoting more time to high school kids for that very reason. My colleague, Joe Davidson, used to offer up prep commentary when he worked a sports show on KOVR (Ch. 13), but it died because of a lack of advertising. He also did a radio show on KHTK called the "Prep Page" that got lots of callers but little financial support. No doubt some energetic young man interested in broadcasting could fill the niche on radio, especially if he can find a deep-pockets sponsor. As for the Elk Grove-Nevada Union game, you are right. There is a good possiblity that the loser of that game might not make the postseason in a league where there are at least four-playoff caliber teams and only three berths.

-- Bill Paterson

October 23, 2006

Question: Did Grant High already play Bakersfield and, if so, what was the final? If not, when and where will the game be played?
-- Dustin, Sacramento

Answer: Grant defeated Bakersfield 14-7 on Sept. 1, and the Pacers are now 7-0 and ranked No. 3 in California behind No. 1 De La Salle of Concord and No. 2 Oaks Christian of Westlake Village.
-- Bill Paterson

Question: Why doesn't Christian Brothers' girls volleyball team receive more coverage about their team? There are several girls on this team that are very talented and have led the team to a winning season. In addition, they are great students and are excellent role models for other kids. It would be nice to see something positive written about their team. They are in a very competitive league and work very hard. Please give them what they deserve.
-- Regina Jones, Sacramento

Answer: Quwan Spears, who covers girls volleyball, just mentioned the Falcons in a story in Thursday's Bee (Page C-5). As the teams prepare for the upcoming playoffs, I'm sure the Falcons will get their share of attention. I will forward this information to Quwan for his consideration. Thank you.
-- Bill Paterson

October 17, 2006
How players are recruited

Question: I understand how teams are ranked - according to win/loss records, head to head matchups, quality of opponents, etc. What I was wondering is how individual players are assessed and recruited? Do they look only at the stats for outstanding individual performance in one position or does overall athletic ability (playing more than one position well) factor in? Does platooning hurt the prospects of those players that could do well on both sides of the ball? And lastly, do recruiters ever take a hard look at players on teams with losing records?

-- Judy Ewing, Vacaville

Answer:: Statistics are meaningless to college recruiters. They look at athletic ability, both on film and by observing games and practices, and a players' recruitability. In other words, can the athlete get into the school, is he fast enough and big enough to play a specific position. A 5-foot-10 quarterback, no matter how exceptional he performs on the field, faces an uphill climb in getting a shot to compete at the next level because of the size issue. Coaches need to keep their jobs, so they sometimes aren't willing to gamble on a player who may be a step slow or a tad small for their position. I don't think platooning hurts a player. Often a player who is a quarterback - coaches sometimes will use their best athlete at this position - will wind up playing as a defensive back or wide receiver at the next level, even if the high school coach won't risk playing him both ways. If a talented player is playing for a losing team, I don't think he's going to get overlooked if he has size, speed and grades and mental toughness. One thing recruiters might look at, though, is how that player handles adversity. Does he pout? Does he point fingers at others? Or does he keep battling and playing hard even when things aren't going well? Unfortunately, there are a lot of good high school players who go unrecruited each season. Sometimes community college is a good option. Some also have the option of trying to walk on and trying to make the team as a non-scholarship player. Others might find success at a Division II or NAIA school.

-- Bill Paterson

October 17, 2006
Kill stats live

Question: I love to read the statistics on volleyball players from Golden Sierra High School, but I don't see Cayti Crowton's stats - how come?
-- Pam Whittington, Sacramento

Answer: You'll be happy to know that Cayti appears among the kills per match leaders in Tuesday's "Who's Hot" list on the Preps Plus page, C8 in sports.

-- Bill Paterson

October 13, 2006

Question: I was just curious as to why Woodcreek High School football doesn’t receive a whole lot of coverage in both the Sacramento Bee and on the local news stations? I just have been noticing that as of late. Is there a reason for that?
-- Josh Winston, Fair Oaks

Answer: Unfortunately, we cover only a handful of games each week, which usually means we are often going to match-ups involving one or two Top 20 teams. Woodcreek is playing solid football but hasn't cracked the top 20, although beating Ponderosa 51-28 last Friday was an eye opener. An upset of a Del Oro, Rocklin or Granite Bay could go a long way in helping the Timberwolves earn feature-game coverage.

As far as the week-to-week coverage, we depend on the coaches or their representatives to call us with statistics, summaries, highlights, etc. Traditionally, it's the responsibility of the home coach to call, but we also urge teams that are on the road to call to make sure their highlights are covered. They can call us at (916) 441-4100.

In addition to taking scoring summaries that appear in the newspaper, we also post online game recaps as part of a roundup a few hours after the games are played. That has enabled us to provide more detailed coverage than would appear in the newspaper, where space is at a premium. I usually write the recaps, so if a coach wants to mention a player or provide details about a significant accomplisment, they can also call me directly at (916) 326-5506 on Fridays from 9:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. or e-mail information to slot@sacbee.com or to me at bpaterson@sacbee.com.
-- Bill Paterson

Question: Rankings? It's getting outta hand when you continue to keep Oak Ridge in these rankings with the losses they have to this point. Where you have them makes no sense. Granted they have played against talent, but losses are losses! Maybe it's time to put them on the bubble or something, until they win again. Why do you keep them ranked?
-- Flash, Sacramento

Answer: The 16th-ranked Trojans stay in the rankings because their losses were to No. 1 Grant (and they gave the Pacers a better game than more renowned Valley Christian of San Jose or Franklin of Stockton), No. 2 Del Oro, 21-14, and No. 13 Franklin, 14-12. They also beat No. 17 Folsom and crushed Grace Davis of Modesto. I don't think it's fair to penalize a team for playing a tough schedule, just as we shouldn't be rewarding a team for playing an easy schedule, one reason Inderkum is at No. 20 despite its 5-0 record. It's still possible that Oak Ridge could win the Sierra Valley Conference this season.
-- Bill Paterson

Question: Why does there seem to be so little support for inner-city football programs? And why do Sacramento schools hold on to bad coaches? I'm sorry if you only win a few games a year. Something has got to change, either the offense you run or the coaching staff.
-- Tony C, Sacramento

Answer: Running a high school football program or any major prep sports program takes a considerable amount of work and dedication. It really is a year-round, full-time job. So if you have a lot of turnover, which is especially prevalent among inner-city schools, then it's hard to build any sort of consistency and, as a result, any sort of winning tradition. There are loads of good athletes at some schools that traditionally struggle and coaching turnover and/or inexperience are big reasons.

To operate a successful program takes support from not only the coaching staff but the administration, the parents and the athletes. Most of all, it takes coaches with the vision, organizational skills and an ability to relate to their athletes and to get them to buy into showing up to practice and being dedicated in the weight room and the classroom.

When Mike Dimino and Max Miller were at Hiram Johnson, the Warriors had a highly successful program. Grant, under longtime coach Mike Alberghini, is a model of just how good an inner-city football program can be.
-- Bill Paterson

Question: Every weekend there are high school teams like Sheldon and Inderkum in the summaries, but rarely one for Burbank. Why is that?
-- A concerned fan, Sacramento.

Answer: Unfortunately with all the schools we cover -- there are 75 playing football within our primary circulation area -- we can only staff a handful of games each week. Therefore we depend on the coaches or their representatives to call or e-mail us after each game with their results, highlights, star players, story ideas, etc. Some, like Sheldon and Inderkum, are very good about calling in their results, win or lose. Traditionally, it's the home coach who is supposed to call in the scoring summaries for both teams. Burbank football coach John Heffernan does a nice job with his players and we'd love to have more about them in our paper or online, but some programs have difficulty finding reliable stat people. We did have highlights of the Titans' games against Galileo and Sac High online, the former because a San Francisco sportswriter was kind enough to call us and the latter because we were able to reach coach Heffernan by phone before deadline.
-- Bill Paterson

Question: I would like to see more coverage of Rosemont High School. This is a new school with new talent and an awesome coaching staff. Please consider running more recognition their way. You won't regret it.
-- Cheryl Simon, Sacramento

Answer: One of our big challenges is keeping up with all the new schools that are opening throughout the region. We did have a note Friday online about the Rosemont High football team winning its first game. Credit coach Ken Durham for calling in the information. We'll do our best to try to catch up with the Wolverines. But as always, if you know of any good stories, please drop us a line.
-- Bill Paterson

Question: With the first ever California high school football championships on the horizon, where do our local teams rank? I've heard media input and computerized rankings will be used as "guides" for the team selections, including other criteria of course. However, is the Bee going to provide any of the Cal-Hi Sports rankings? How about any other polls? I understand we have a handful of teams with legitimate shots at making the bowl playoffs, assuming they continue to win and become section champions in their respective divisions. It will be interesting to see how our NoCal talent stacks up against SoCal.
-- Daro, Rocklin

Answer: Since it will be a CIF committee that will make the ultimate decision at the end of the season, polls such as those offered by Cal-Hi Sports and Maxspreps are, as you point out, only guides. But based on Cal-Hi Sports state bowl rankings and the MaxPreps/CalPrep rankings, Del Oro would play for the Division II bowl championship based on the first five weeks of results. The 4-1 Golden Eagles currently are ranked No. 1 in Cal-Hi's D-II North rankings but probably can't afford to lose another game, even if they go on to win the section title.

Despite its sterling preseason, Grant faces a tougher road in D-I, even if it winds up going undefeated and wins the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship. The Pacers are behind legendary De La Salle of Concord, the overwhelming favorite to be the Northern California representative. It didn't help Grant's cause that USA Today has made the Spartans its No. 1 team and that they just beat Mission Viejo, a high-powered Southern California program that had beaten De La Salle the last two seasons. De La Salle is just too big a media draw for state officials to pass up.

Nevada Union could be a darkhorse should De La Salle and Grant falter. The Miners are currently No. 4 behind De La Salle, Grant and Foothill of Pleasanton. Colfax also is ranked fourth in Division II behind Del Oro, Archbishop Mitty of San Jose and St. Francis of Mountain View. With all teams entering league play this week, I'm told we will start running state rankings sometime next week.
-- Bill Paterson

October 2, 2006

Question: Week after week we see the new rankings on Tuesday. I have seen questions posted about why one school isn't ranked or is ranked higher than another. I know that the rankings are based off of the five Bee writers' opinions. Can you give us some insight as to what criteria you guys us to rank teams and how you actually come up with the ranking orders?
- John Funicello, Rancho Cordova

Answer: Let's end all the rumors right now. No, we don't use a dart board to determine our picks. But it is a democratic system and each voter has his own methods of determining a top 20 poll, and we do not meet each week to discuss our votes. So I can only speak for myself about how I compile my rankings.

I try to look at all the weekend results, check my poll from the previous week and match it with the latest Bee poll. In deciding between one team or another for a certain spot, I'll look at how they did head-to-head, then against common opponents. Reputation and how a team did last year factors in, too, at least for our initial polls.

I think as the teams play and the weeks progress, our poll gets a little more solid top to bottom as some new teams emerge and others that we initially thought might be strong drop off.

With five independent voters, there are bound to be differences and some inconsistencies. For instance, even though Vacaville! beat L aguna Creek in a head-to-head match-up and both were 2-1 before this weekend's play, Vacaville (16) ranks lower in our Sept. 26 poll to the Cardinals (14). But when I voted, I had Vacaville ahead of Laguna Creek based largely on the head-to-head results and the Bulldogs' loss to Granite Bay, now No. 2 in our poll. But some of my colleagues probably voted Laguna Creek higher because they beat a highly ranked Rocklin team in overtime.

We are criticized all the time for being uninformed, but I think no matter what type of poll is done it will be criticized because that is the nature of polls. The whole idea is to create discussion and debate. While I admit that sometimes we don't have as much time as we would like in putting our votes together, it's still an important independent voice.

Some have suggested doing a coaches' poll because coaches are a lot more knowledgeable. No argument about the knowledge factor, but just like us lowly sportswriters, they too have certain leanings and prejudices. It's human nature. But I think the human factor is better than computer ratings, which often are cited as being neutral.

Just take a look at the Maxpreps.com Sac-Joaquin Section computer ratings of Sept. 29. According to those rankings, Division I defending champion Nevada Union is only the 35th best team in the section, behind the likes of Casa Roble, Inderkum and Capital Christian.
-- Bill Paterson

Question: Do you believe there is a reason why the inner-city schools can't compete with some of the better football programs in the area? We all know there's lots of speed and athletes at these inner city schools, but for some reason getting them on the field due to grades or whatever has me dumbfounded. Burbank would seem to be the exception if last year was used as a barometer, and this year they have all of there weapons back but not much depth. Too many two-way players now. Some insight please.
-- Burbank parent

Answer: Sorry, I haven't had a chance to see Burbank play this year, but I saw them several times last year and they were a fun team to watch and coach John Heffernan does a nice job. They created a lot of excitement with their big-play ability, especially against Del Oro in the playoffs. But Burbank and other schools like McClatchy, Hiram Johnson and Sac High just don't seem to get the numbers like in the suburban schools and that can be a big disadvantage as a season wears on. It could be grades, it could be other distractions, it could be coaching turnover and it could be a lack of feeder programs.

Those kids up in Nevada Union know the Wing-T inside and out by the time they get to high school because they are playing it at the youth level. But there is no reason inner-city schools shouldn't thrive, despite the roadblocks. Del Paso Heights' Grant is the No. 4 ranked team in the state this week, the highest ranking for a public school in California. They've got depth. They've got talent. They got administrative support. But coaching stability under Mike Alberghini is the biggest factor in the Pacers' success.
-- Bill Paterson

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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