Dorian Hargrove 9:30 a.m., Dec. 6
Although 89 schools play 11-man football in the San Diego Section, from almost the beginning of the season it has been about only two teams – Cathedral Catholic and Oceanside.
Both teams came into the 2008 season with high expectations. And neither disappointed.
Oceanside outran preseason opponents from the opening whistle. Cathedral Catholic pounded their preseason opponents all game long.
The Dons won the league that had the best overall preseason record and was one of the toughest in the county. The Pirates won a league that featured a defending section champion and some of the best offenses in the section.
Both teams returned to Qualcomm Stadium for the second straight year and left with the same result – a section title. For Oceanside, it was an unprecedented fifth in a row; for Cathedral Catholic, their second in a row.
Both teams have Division I talent – Oceanside’s Utah-bound quarterback Jordan Wynn and Cathedral Catholic running back Tyler Gaffney, who has a short list of USC and Stanford. The comparisons between these two teams could go on – they are the two best teams in the section. That much is not up for debate.
But, as those who follow high school football know, it does not end there. Last Sunday, Cathedral Catholic was invited to the Division II state bowl game, just ahead of Oceanside. And although it is the 13-0 Dons that will be playing in the state bowl game on Saturday instead of the 12-0-1 and defending state champion Pirates, Oceanside cannot consider their season a loss because of, essentially, one tie.
This is the third year of the state bowl games, and the San Diego Section has been fortunate each of the last two years to send a representative for the entire south, including the Southern Section and teams in the Los Angeles area. Last year, Oceanside paved the way for the section by beating Novato in the Division II state bowl game. This year, Cathedral Catholic gets a shot when they take on St. Mary’s of Stockton.
What’s most important is not who won the debate of who should go, the Dons and Pirates – it is the fact that the debate even existed. It meant that San Diego would be on the state high school football map for the second season in a row. Pretty good for a section that most thought would be an afterthought when the state bowl games were first put into place.
And let’s not forget, the games this weekend are bowl games, just like college bowl games. The selection process is completely subjective, with winning your section the only necessary prerequisite for consideration.
Lots of thought and analysis go into the decision, because that is what the state bowl bid is – a decision. This year Cathedral Catholic was judged to be the best representative for the section – next year they could be the odd man out.