The Christian High School football team is fighting for a playoff spot, but not on the field. It is in a legal battle over what division the school can play in. NBC 7's Derek Togerson has the story.
Christian High School in El Cajon is having a great football season. The team is 11-1 – not bad for a team that’s not even supposed to be playing in Division 3.
If they beat a very good San Marcos team on Saturday night at Mesa College, it will be three straight wins over schools of 2,000-plus students. Christian’s enrollment: 384 students.
“This is probably the best team we’ve had in a long, long time at Christian,” said Christian Athletics Director David Beezer. “We’re actually a Division 5 school,” Beezer said. “We’re a small school that was pushed up to Division 3 in the CIF format locally.”
According to the selection information in the CIF handbook, the Division 3 champion is eligible to play in the Division 2 state bowl game. However, on the same page is a special exception a Division 3 champ with enrollment under 500 will be considered for the Division 4 bowl.
And that’s where the controversy lies.
“Christian is playing in a higher division in San Diego than they have in the past, So (they) weren’t familiar with the way it was set up,” said San Diego section commissioner Jerry Schniepp, who has been the conduit between the school and the state office.
He said the state office thinks the school is wrong. The school says otherwise.
“If anybody looks at (the document), and reads it, you would certainly think we’d be placed in Division 4,” Beezer said.
On Monday morning, Christian filed a lawsuit against the CIF to earn consideration for a Division 4 state title shot – assuming they win on Saturday.
The distinction is important. If lumped into the long line of schools eligible for Division 2, the Patriots likely will not earn an invitation to a bowl game. At the Division 4 level, a shot at state is almost guaranteed.
“All there has been is an interpretation at this point,” Schniepp said.
The CIF will hold executive meetings Tuesday in Sacramento. On the agenda are updates on four different lawsuits currently filed against the organization, as well as five anticipated lawsuits. Christian’s case is among them.