No. 1 Mater Dei loses -- but still alive
So California is starting a new Open Division this year, with the top eight teams from Southern California and the top eight teams from Northern California playing down to a regional champ -- and then the two play for the state Open title.
Naturally, Mater Dei was expected to be in the Open, and battle Windward and Bishop O'Dowd and St. Mary's of Stockton and the other nationally ranked teams for the Open title. Well, Mater Dei lost in the semifinals of the Southern Section playoffs to Etiwanda, by one in OT, and now it gets complicated.
Despite have having 600 schools, the Southern Section only gets four teams in the SoCal Open Division (San Diego, L.A. City and Central sections also can nominate four teams each). Clearly the top two teams in Division I (the highest level) from the Southern Section will move on to the Open, but there are also going to be several other Southern Section division champions. It seems logical, from an administrative point of view, that the first choice for Open Division teams should be Section champs -- of which previous No. 1 in the nation Mater Dei is not. In fact, Mater Dei isn't even a runnerup.
Mater Dei, though, still should wind up in the Division I playoffs, through which it should coast (it would beat the best NorCal D-1 team by 30, most likely). The Southern Section will send two or more D-1 teams to the Open Division, and then four to the Division 1 bracket, so it's hard to see Mater Dei getting completely left out.
The idea of the Open Division was to create a clear state champ (as well as to get the schools that recruit into their own division), but now it doesn't look like that will happen. And if Mater Dei wins D-1, and Santiago of Corona, say, wins the Open, then which is the best team in California? And who should be nationally ranked where?