New CIF Playoff Rules Create Substantial Change

News Staff

Palm Desert, CA


Looking at the DVL it’s easy to see each team’s roster turnover, some major coaching change and league realignment and wonder what this upcoming football season will hold.

Sure, there’s likely to be a new DVL winner (as we’ve seen the past 2 years), but perhaps more importantly, the playoff structure is radically changing this year.

The former system of the top-3 teams in the league advancing the playoffs is gone.

New to 2016, complete with a fancy title: Competitive Equity Playoff Groupings. The system we’ve known as high school football fans assigned playoff divisions based on leagues. So all the DVL teams were in the same playoff divisions. And all the De Anza league teams fell under the same division as well.

But under this new system, divisions will be assigned based on a number of factors, most importantly, the previous 2 years of performance and strength of schedule. Each school will be given a point total based on formulas developed by the CIF and ranked accordingly. There will be 13 divisions that the 401 high school football teams will fall into. 

The top 16 teams from each division will make the playoffs.

What does this mean?
A few things.

  1. Teams in lower divisions have a smaller chance of making the playoffs. Those 401 schools are not evenly distributed among 13 divisions. For example, Divisions 1 and 2 have only 18 teams while Division 12 has 46 schools and Division 13 has 83. That means 16 of the 18 teams in the top divisions will make the playoffs, or 89 percent, but less than 20 percent of the teams in Division 13 play in the post season.
  2. The only team guaranteed to make the playoffs is the league winner. The 2nd and 3rd place teams will be given “priority” over other teams in each division but that’s not going to matter that much because the lower divisions have so many school in them, there will be a lot of 2nd and 3rd place teams vying for those 16 playoff spots.
  3. The idea of “All DVL” CIF Finals are gone. Sort of. Last year, Palm Desert and La Quinta both made it to the CIF semi-finals. Had each won, they’d set up that “All-DVL” Final that the Coachella Valley was hoping for. While they both lost, the entire scenario becomes HIGHLY unlikely under the new playoff structure. According to the new division realignment, those rivals are now in different divisions. La Quinta will be in Division 5 while Palm Desert will be in Division 9 come playoff time. Which leads me to some good news…
  4. There’s a chance we have more than 1 CIF Champion in the Coachella Valley. With Palm Springs playing for a Division 4 title, La Quinta will vie in Division 5, Palm Desert in Division 9 and so on (see the full list of Division groupings below), there’s a chance with inspired performances from each school, the Coachella Valley could be celebrating multiple CIF Division Title winners.

While somewhat complicated, the thing that’s not hard to understand is that this is big. Really big.

So big, the CIF-SS Commissioner, Rob Wigod, is quoted as saying it’s the largest change to CIF rules in the past century.

Here’s how the playoff divisions break down for our local teams. And again, this is just for the playoffs and fall sports. Winter and Springs divisions will be released at a later date. 

11-Man Football: While the number of schools varies from division to division, the top 16 teams make the playoffs

Palm Springs- Division 4 (19 schools)

La Quinta Division 5 (22 schools)

Palm Desert- Division 9 (29 schools)

Shadow Hills- Division 10 (38 schools)

Xavier Prep, Coachella Valley- Division 11 (38 schools)

Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage- Division 12 (46 schools) 

Indio, Desert Mirage- Division 13 (84 schools) 

Girls Tennis: 

Palm Desert- Division 1 

Xavier Prep, Palm Springs- Division 2 

La Quinta, Coachella Valley, Indio, Cathedral City- Division 3 

Shadow Hills, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Desert Mirage- Division 5 

Girls Volleyball: 

Palm Desert, Palm Springs- Division 4

La Quinta, Xavier Prep – Division 5

Cathedral City, Coachella Valley, Shadow Hills- Division 6

Indio – Division 7

Desert Mirage, Rancho Mirage -Division 8

Desert Hot Springs- Division 9

Boys Water Polo:

La Quinta, Palm Desert – Division 4

Palm Springs, Xavier Prep – Division 6

Cathedral City, Indio, Rancho Mirage – Division 7

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