Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008 | San Diego football fans are angry. The Chargers are 3-5 and San Diego State is 1-7.

Those are plenty of reasons for disappointment, but allow me to direct your anger in another direction in a more important manner at the high school level. You’re anger should also be directed at high school administrators that failed to provide an environment for kids to achieve.

The North County Conference high school principals and athletic directors ignored an obvious debacle-in-the-making when they voted to re-league their 19 schools in the conference into three leagues (Avocado, Palomar and Valley) based on enrollment.

By following the manual — instead of interjecting their educated minds that would employ common sense — they moved Oceanside’s state power football program from the North County Conference’s strongest league, the Avocado, to its weakest, the Valley.

There was no grey area in predicting what would happen when Oceanside was forced to line up against undermanned and undersized Valley League schools.

Here’s the result: Oceanside’s 7-0 football team is ranked No. 5 in the state for all divisions and has outscored its three Valley opponents 150-28. All 28 points by the opponents came in the second half after Oceanside coach John Carroll emptied his bench.

Mt. Carmel, last week’s victim, was trailing 42-0 at halftime. The final score was 59-14.

Westview was down 35-0 at halftime. The final score was 49-7.

San Marcos trailed 28-0 at halftime. The final score was 42-7.

All three games could have been much uglier if Carroll was one of those simple-minded high school coaches that ran up scores to draw national attention for records and rankings.

Next up on Oceanside’s schedule Friday is a game at Orange Glen, a struggling team that is 1-7 and has previously lost to Westview 60-20 and Mt. Carmel 42-21.

Oceanside could score 100 points if Carroll would let his Pirates run amok.

Officially, the North County athletic directors cast the vote to place Oceanside football in the Valley League. But the conference by-laws allowed for the principals to overrule the Ads.

North County’s principals and athletic directors should be sending letters of apology to the kids at San Marcos, Westview, Mt. Carmel and Orange Glen for their decision that forced them to endure these unnecessary negative educational experiences.

Next, the principals and athletic directors should write a thank you letter to Carroll, Oceanside’s veteran coach, for not running up scores while teaching his players a message to display sportsmanship.

If Oceanside’s players were to follow the examples of professional athletes they see on television, they would be mocking their humiliated opponents. But here’s what I saw in last week’s Mt. Carmel-Oceanside game after a play.

Oceanside junior offensive lineman Thomas Molesi jumped to his feet as bodies unpiled and enthusiastically tapped a Mt. Carmel defender on the helmet as a way to praise him for his effort. 

“Coach Carroll teaches us we’re representing our school, our community and our families,” Molesi told me. “Oceanside football is about sportsmanship, even though a lot of people talk bad about Oceanside. There’s no need for trash-talking. That’s not Oceanside football.”

For the non-high school sports fan, this might be a difficult concept to put your arms around and understand the stupidity of the vote by North County principals and athletic directors.

Let me try to put in terms you can relate to or understand.

Imagine if an arbitrary decision, based on some kind of rule book, came down that USC’s football team was being moved to the Western Athletic Conference.

USC might get a challenge from Boise State and Fresno State and every five years or so from Hawaii, but otherwise the games against Idaho, Utah State, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Nevada and Louisiana Tech would be mismatches.

The games would cost USC a chance to move up in the Bowl Championship Series standings to earn a chance to play for the national championship.

Oceanside can get a game against Ramona and Valley Center in the Valley League, but the lack of competition in the rest of the league could cost the Pirates a chance down the road to advance to the CIF State Bowl championship.

Oceanside’s starters are only playing two quarters and not facing a weekly challenge. This could lead to the Pirates turning soft and suffering an upset in the San Diego Section playoffs.

Thus, the vote by the principals and athletic directors has been a disservice to the opponents Oceanside is embarrassing as well as the Oceanside kids that aren’t getting a fair test of their ability against the best competition.

The defense of the decision to move Oceanside High to the Valley that I keep hearing from administrators is that Oceanside’s minor sports, such as girls volleyball and girls tennis, now have a chance to be competitive. Previously, Oceanside’s minor sports teams were being dominated by Avocado schools with girls roomed in club programs (volleyball) or with private lessons (tennis).

I’m sorry, but that argument doesn’t fly.

In the City Conference, leagues for all sports are based on strength of program. The football team can be in the Eastern League, the strongest league, but the field hockey, volleyball and tennis programs will be in the Western League against schools of similar programs.

If the City Conference went strictly by enrollment, San Diego High and Morse would be in the strong Eastern League. Instead, two of the San Diego Section’s weakest programs are in the weaker Central League where the kids have a chance to compete. San Diego High and Morse would otherwise be losing games by the scores similar to Oceanside’s opponents.

When the North County Conference, usually the progressive league in providing after-school activities compared to other parts of San Diego County, falls behind the City Conference, a dinosaur in providing kids opportunities, something is drastically wrong.

Maybe, to get the point, the North County Conference’s principals and athletic directors should be put in the position they’ve forced the kids from San Marcos, Westview, Mt. Carmel and Orange Glen to face.

Maybe they should be the ones on the field being embarrassed by trying to block Cal-bound lineman Brian Schwenke or trying to defend a pass from Colorado-bound quarterback Jordan Wynn aimed toward to San Diego State-bound wide receiver Osmond Nicholas or Oceanside super sophomore receiver Demario Coleman.

Then they would understand how blind they were when they cast their votes to re-league — placing one of California’s strongest football programs in a league of mismatches.

Tom Shanahan is voiceofsandiego.org‘s sports columnist. He is the media coordinator for the San Diego Hall of Champions and an occasional writer for Chargers.com. You can e-mail him at toms@sdhoc.com. Or send a letter to the editor.

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