March 21, 2008

Go long: Football title tilts may move

The Sac-Joaquin Section is looking into moving its high school football championship games from University of the Pacific to UC Davis, section commissioner Pete Saco said.

"We've visited UC Davis," Saco confirmed Thursday. "They're in the middle of submitting a bid.

"I think you're going to see section championship football at UC Davis, either next year or a couple years down the road."

Saco said as Pacific's Stagg Memorial Stadium has aged over the years, the section started to look elsewhere.

Three section football championship games were held at Pacific last fall: Divisions I, IV and V. In a Dec. 1 doubleheader, Oakdale beat Whitney of Rocklin 34-27 for the Division IV title, and Central Catholic topped Patterson 24-6 in the Division V championship. In the Division I championship one week later, Napa beat St. Mary's of Stockton 38-36.

Saco said at least one of those games could be at Davis.

"We could sample Division I at UC Davis next year, and we'll see how it works," he said. "I'm not sure if all of our football championships will be at Davis, but I think a lot of them will end up there. One of the big advantages there is the artificial turf."

According to the section's preliminary plans, all championship games would keep the same dates.

The Division I game would move from UOP to Davis, perhaps as early as next season. The Division II, III and IV games would be placed in a rotation. Two games would be in a doubleheader at UC Davis with the third game at a neutral high school site. Folsom and Oakmont high schools were neutral sites for title games last season.

The Division V game features teams from the Western Athletic Conference, Trans-Valley League and Mother Lode League -- all conferences in the south. Saco said plans were to hold that game at a neutral high school site in Stockton.

"Division V may never leave the Stockton area," Saco said. "Lincoln's the most likely place."

Lincoln High's Spanos Stadium is horseshoe-shaped with artificial turf. It's acknowledged as one of the top high school stadiums in the southern half of the section.

The Division VI and VII title games would continue to be held at home sites.

Since Pacific dropped its football program following the 1995 season, the stadium has fallen into disrepair: The press box has been condemned, the section had to bring in ticket booths and portable toilets when it hosted title games, and the locker rooms are in sore shape.

"The field itself isn't a problem," Saco said. "And we've got a great relationship with the school. We hold basketball playoffs there, and our Division I baseball playoffs will be there this year. But there is an age factor with the facility.

"It's no fault of UOP's, but it looks like football could be on the move."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at or 578-2300.

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