A few years ago, the CIF decided to combine the Open Division and Division I into one larger Division I and then choose the 8 Open teams at the end of the season, leaving the remaining teams in Division I. Since this system has been in place, there is an annual conversation among coaches and players alike about being the #8 seed in the Open or being the 9th ranked team and therefore the #1 team in Division I. This year was no exception and was talked about a little bit more at Valhalla over the last couple weeks. Both the Football and Boys Water Polo teams found themselves on the bubble of the Open and DI.
First, let’s start with the Boys Water Polo team. Going into the final week of the season, they were sitting higher than Torrey Pines and Grossmont who were also on the bubble. Valhalla beat Torrey which meant that Grossmont needed to finish higher than Torrey to be able to swap with Valhalla as they had beaten Valhalla 3 times this season already. The points were within hundredths of Grossmont passing Torrey, then the League Championship game happened. Valhalla and Grossmont played for the title and ultimately, the winner would take the last Open spot. Valhalla found a way to beat Grossmont and win the title. This was great. A League Championship for the Valhalla Norsemen and now a date with the #1 team in the county, Cathedral Catholic. This one was a bit easier to swallow as winning a league title is a great accomplishment. However, the stats don’t lie, Grossmont won three out of four and had they been just two tenths higher in ranking, they would be in the open and Valhalla would be the #1 seed in DI with a more likely opportunity at a CIF Championship.
The second conversation surrounding Valhalla was about the Football team. The football team was 8-2 on the season, losing to only two other Open Division teams, Grossmont and Helix. They finished 3rd in the tough Grossmont Hills league. Since the Power Ranking puts a large weight on the records of the teams that you played, Valhalla’s schedule placed them higher than a few teams that were arguably better but that had played more teams with losing records. Due to the strength of those opponents, Valhalla finished tied for 6th in the county and was selected to be the #7 seed and will play #2 Helix. By the numbers, if any of 6 teams Valhalla played had lost one more game, that team would drop a level and Valhalla’s power ranking would have dropped to 9th. This would have given the Norsemen the #1 seed in Division I. The Norsemen would be a heavy favorite to make the Championship game in that scenario and would have had potential of two more home games.
While some may feel disappointment at not being in Division I with a high probability of a CIF Finals appearance, this is an honor for all of the athletes to be in the Open and should be treated as such. Both of these teams have earned the highest level of competition that San Diego County has to offer. They have been selected to compete against the best in the section as one of the best in the section. Congrats to both teams on their accomplishments and best of luck vs. your fellow Open opponents. Go Norsemen!