WAREHAM — It wasn’t just Darien Fernandez — the electric tailback who exploded for almost 300 yards and six touchdowns last weekend — running over defensive linemen and juking out cornerbacks as Wareham cruised by Case in a week two matchup.
Vikings senior quarterback Anthony Abbott created four scores himself. Even reserve running backs Chris Savary and Mason Vasconcelos busted out a few 15-yard runs.
By the second half, Fernandez hardly had to do more than launch kick-offs and boot a few extra points, with the 35-6 final score just a brush stroke in the overall picture of what happened in Wareham on Friday afternoon.
“We just got our [tails] kicked,” said Case captain Cody Furtado. “Fernandez, he’s probably one of the best football players I’ve ever played against.”
Chalk this one up as a Case loss to a very good team.
But if the new statewide football proposal passes in an Oct. 26 vote, one lucky team in the South Coast Conference could dodge a disaster like this. With nine teams in the league and the new proposal calling for a seven-game regular season schedule (in order to begin a playoff bracket in week eight), one school in the SCC wouldn’t play Wareham each year.
“Our league is in a unique situation,” said Dave Driscoll, who has been coaching Dighton-Rehoboth for the last 32 years. “No matter how you cut the cake, we just can’t [play every team]. We don’t have enough dates.”
Furtado, a senior at Case who wouldn’t be around to see the new system anyway, said, hypothetically, he wouldn’t care if another school got to dodge the league’s best team in a regular season schedule.
Furtado believes playing the best teams is the only way to improve, and “if you don’t make it to the playoffs, you didn’t do enough to get there,” he said.
But for the SCC, in the right of fairness, the schedule just wouldn’t make any sense. Instead, it’s looking like the conference will split into two divisions, presumably into a small and large division based on enrollment size.
“We have to,” said Wareham coach Dan Nault, “because mathematically we can’t play everyone. We’re probably the only conference like that.
“There has been some discussion among the athletic directors of getting another team, because at 10 teams we could have four automatic playoff bids.”
With the current playoff scenario, which would begin with the 2013-2014 season if the vote passes (which many SCC coaches believe it will), the top two teams from the SCC would receive automatic bids to the postseason, with the possibility of more teams joining via a wild card system based on power rankings.
But if the nine-team conference splits into two leagues — and adds another school to make it an even 10, five teams in each league — there would be four teams that qualify for the playoffs automatically, plus any additional wild cards.
That’s if the proposal passes.
“We are in favor of it, despite the fact that it causes more headaches for us,” said Driscoll. “Obviously you’d like to play everybody, but there are major college conferences where they don’t play everyone.
“Ideally, we’ll split into two leagues. But if you’re looking for perfection in this whole thing, you won’t find it. The bottom line is it gives more players a chance to participate in playoffs than ever before.”
Especially in a conference that’s been full of drama.
Driscoll recalls the 1995 season where Wareham beat his Dighton-Rehoboth squad early, both teams ran the table the rest of the way, but only the Vikings were able to qualify for the postseason. Wareham won the Super Bowl.
The next season, the reverse happened, and D-R won the title.
And if a team like Case, which spent two years away from the SCC in attempt to rebuild the program, will be able to play more competitive games, both during the seven-game season and afterward, when non-qualifying teams can form their own schedule against other non-qualifying teams, the new plan is a winner.
“If I had to look for what I would think is an obvious benefit, that would be it,” said Case principal Brian McCann, who also serves as chairman of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors. “That could help Case High School right now.
“I would think you would be playing teams of your size, rather than in week eight, if you had a tough season, playing some power house. That’s not helping us.”