January 26, 2007
How good is Jesuit?

Question: With Jesuit being the area's top-ranked boys basketball team this season, how do you think the Marauders would stack up with some of the nation's powers?

- Jim, Sacramento

Answer: Although they haven't cracked USA Today's top 25 teams, the 18-1 Marauders are definitely one of the nation's top programs. They outplayed unbeaten Montverde Academy, the Florida power that is undefeated and ranked eighth this week, in the championship game of the Les Schwab Shootout in Folsom in early December, only to lose at the buzzer by one point on a short jumper by 7-foot-1 Solomon Alabi, who Jesuit otherwise neutralized, even without a player taller than 6-4. Jesuit also became the first Northern California team to win the Holiday Prep Classic in Torrey Pines over Christmas vacation, beating Southern California power Dominguez in the finals. The unselfish and talented bunch are the real deal. So if they can avoid injuries and the ball bounces their way, they could be playing for a Division II state title in March at Arco Arena.

- Bill Paterson

January 26, 2007
Christian schools a strong duo

Question: The basketball power ratings just came out Monday. With realignment this year, Division V is truly three divisions (DV-VII) combined. What is your impression of Division V? Can anybody compete with Modesto Christian and Capital Christian?

- Aren, North Highlands

Answer: As you may be aware, Modesto Christian was good enough to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I titles in 2001 and 2002. The '01 team barely lost the state championship to Mater Dei and featured current NBA player Chuck Hayes. Concerned about schools like the Crusaders and Capital Christian building hoop dynasties, the section decided not to allow these small-enrollment schools to play up in divisions for the postseason. So for the past four years, we've had Modesto Christian beating Capital Christian in the D-V title game. I don't think that's going to change, even with Capital Christian losing three standout players, two to transfers and another to academic ineligibility. And, ultimately, that's too bad because you have some excellent small-school programs, such as Sacramento Adventist and Sacramento Waldorf, which probably won't be able to match-up athletically with the two behemoths and thus won't get to play for a banner. But what a great story it would be if someone other than either Capital Christian or Modesto Christian was to reach the D-V finals.

- Bill Paterson

January 26, 2007
And now, Grant football

Question: With the realignment of the San Joaquin Section, are we crippling our best teams? A school like Grant, with its strength of schedule, is going to look bad when it comes time to choose who goes to state bowl games ... All in the grab for more dollars through playoff games.

- Brad Bishop, Antelope

Answer: Regardless of the debate about realignment watering down the section playoffs, the answer for Grant and other Sacramento-area teams is to try to schedule the toughest non-league schedule possible against as many top out-of-area teams as can be found. The Pacers did a good job last season in scheduling Bakersfield, Valley Christian of San Jose, Franklin of Stockton and Oak Ridge (although those teams turned out not to be as strong as expected). But short of scheduling and beating De La Salle, there was no way the Pacers would have been selected to play in the inaugural Division I game because of the Spartans' No. 1 national ranking and longtime reputation for excellence. That trumped anything Grant did, regardless of all those wins against outmanned Metro Conference foes. And while Grant no doubt is a D-I program, I'm not sure the Pacers would have gone undefeated this season playing at that level, especially if it was in the Delta Valley Conference with the likes of Elk Grove, Franklin and Nevada Union. Still, because De La Salle lost in the D-I game and Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa almost upset Oaks Christian in the Division III game, it only helped enhance this area's football reputation. De La Salle's loss to Canyon left a lot of people thinking the more athletic Pacers would have been a stronger representative from the North for the D-I game and Del Oro, which moved the ball all over Cardinal Newman in a preseason loss, might also have fared better than Palo Alto in the D-II state contest if the Golden Eagles hadn't lost to Grant in the D-II section playoffs.

- Bill Paterson

January 4, 2007
Big bucks for some coaches

Question: I recently moved here from the Seattle area. Bellevue High School, which beat De La Salle in 2005 and has won four of the last five Washington state football championships, pays its football coach $55,000 per season. He is not a teacher and is paid by the Bellevue boosters. Washington football coaches average between $4,500-$5,500 per year. Is such a thing possible in California?

-Bob Morrisey, Roseville

Answer: Not in our neck of the woods. There are no coaches to my knowledge who receive full-time salaries for coaching football, though many will tell you to be a success it takes a full-time, yearlong commitment. A head football coach in the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District earns a coaching stipend of $3,178. Coaches in Pennsylvania earn stipends of up to $11,000. But in Texas, where many large-school football coaches work pretty much full-time coaching their sport, the average salary is $73,804 (compared to an average Texas teaching salary of $42,400), with five earning more than $100,000 a year, according to a report by the Austin American-Statesman. Southlake Carroll Coach Todd Dodge, who recently took the head coaching job at the University of North Texas after leading his high school program to a 79-1 record during the last five years, earned $90,510.

- Bill Paterson

January 2, 2007
Public versus private

Question: Of the six schools that played in the State Bowl football games, four of them were private schools. What is your opinion on private schools having an advantage with recruiting players for their school and their program getting private funding, which allows for the best coaches, sports venues, travel expenses, uniforms and the best education? Would a private school champion (one division) and public school champions (three divisions) be fair, followed by the private school champion playing the Division I public school champion for the overall title?

- Oke Iese, Sacramento

Answer: Clearly, private schools have an advantage in this day and age for the very reasons you mention above, but I don't like the idea of segregating schools on a private vs. public basis to determine a state champion. I believe there are still enough good public school programs to challenge private-school powers, even with an anomaly like De La Salle (which lost to a public school in this year's state final). It's certainly true in our area when it comes to football. Jesuit and Christian Brothers each have won two section titles (CBS's last was in 1983). While those two schools have had their moments, they haven't been nearly as successful in football as Del Oro, Nevada Union, Grant, Elk Grove, Oak Ridge and a number of others. Good coaching and strong community support will keep most top athletes at home. Obviously, the superiority of private schools is a bigger issue in the Bay Area and Southern California, but I believe that's because too many public school programs have capitulated rather than met the challenges presented by the privates.

- 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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