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Title games will be spread out

Six high school football teams and their fans will descend upon The Home Depot Center in Carson for a Saturday chock-full of state championship football.

One is Modesto's own Central Catholic, which plays St. Bonaventure of Ventura in the Division III championship bowl game at 11:30 a.m.

It looks like this year will be the last year the state championships will be played on one day.

All signs point to an expansion from three to five divisions for next year's games. Volleyball and basketball compete under the five-division format.

The decision will be made when the CIF's executive council meets Jan. 25-26. Two proposals will be voted upon. First, the CIF will decide if it wishes to continue the state football championship bowl games; second, the CIF will vote to expand to five divisions, keeping in line with basketball and volleyball. Both votes, according to several sources across the state, are locks to be approved.

"We've got these dates penciled in for Home Depot Center on both Friday and Saturday for next year," CIF Executive Director Marie Ishida said Sunday during a news conference in Carson. "It's looking like (those votes) are going to be approved."

AND what happens to the state championship bowl games as we continue down this road?

They're going to get larger.

At some point within two years, a proposal to have Northern California and Southern California regional championships most likely will hit the executive council.

That could be approved, but a regional title would add a week to the season. In the case of a team like Centennial of Corona, that would mean a 16-game season: 10 regular-season games, four section playoffs and a SoCal regional, followed by a state title game.

That's 16 consecutive games without a week off. Not even the NFL has a 16-game season without a break.

"There will be issues to work out whichever direction we go," Ishida said.

SO what would have happened if there were five divisions this year? Would Oakdale, which was considered one of the top three contenders for a berth in the Division II (medium school) game, have gone under a five-division format?

Probably not, because the selection committee -- the state's 10 section commissioners -- voted Novato and Foothill of Palo Cedro ahead of the Mustangs.

Here are the most likely scenarios, had there been a five-division setup this year:

Division I: De La Salle-Concord vs. Birmingham-Van Nuys

Division II: Oak Grove-San Jose vs. Centennial-Corona

Division III: Foothill-Palo Cedro vs. Oceanside

Division IV: Novato vs. St. Bonaventure-Ventura

Division V: Central Catholic vs. Oaks Christian-Westlake Village

With five divisions, the CIF would lose a premier matchup like Central Catholic-St. Bonaventure, but it would have plenty of great matchups.

The Division I game would feature one of the best teams in Los Angeles Section history -- and that's a storied history -- against the top NorCal program of De La Salle.

The Division III game would feature two teams from the extreme north and south state: Palo Cedro and Oceanside are 633 miles apart.

And in Division V, you'd have two of the top small-school programs in the state over the last five years.

WHERE would those regional games fit in? Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion Napa probably would have had a chance to see how it matches up against De La Salle.

Undefeated Sutter of the Northern Section probably would match up with Central Catholic. By the way, that game already is set up for next season, after Central Catholic opens against Cardinal Newman.

And Oakdale would have received its chance at a state title with a game against Foothill.

While the regional games may be a pipe dream because of the length of the season, it's almost a foregone conclusion that state championships will expand to five division next year.

And a popular event is going to become more popular.

Will DeBoard's high schools column appears Thursdays. E-mail him at, write him at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, CA 95352-5256, call 578-2300 or fax 238-4551.