AS EXPECTED, the high school football competition in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) is anybody’s affair, with no clear favorites. Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-Adc) Magis Eagles started their title defense on a strong note with a 1-0 win over Don Bosco Technical College (DBTC) on Sept. 14, 2019 but lost the next day to the University of San Carlos-Basic Education Department (USC-BED), 1-0. USC-BED was held to a scoreless draw by DBTC and lost to the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R), 2-1, in their first two games.
“We have to win the next game,” coaching staff member Dino Musni said on Saturday, while we were in the sidelines with USC and a couple of football dads from Ateneo during half-time of their season opener.
During that game, I observed that some of the SHS-AdC players seemed easily rattled as some lost their composure while they were ahead against DBTC.
“They’re still very young,” one of the Ateneo dads told me.
So young and with the pressure of defending the crown on their shoulders, I hope the Magis Eagles grow mentally as the season progresses.
Right now, USJ-R lead with two wins and is the only team in contention for an outright title via sweep. Both DBTC and USC-BED have four points each with the Bosconians ahead owing to its 13-1 rout of guest team SMS-Boystown. Ateneo, after that loss to USC, found itself fourth.
That’s how close the competition is in the high school competition. I think one of the factors would determine the finalists is how the teams fare against the guest team. Goal difference might play a factor and teams need to score as many as they can to fatten their record.
You could say that’s bad for guest team Sisters of Mary Schools (SMS) but like I told some of the parents last Saturday, they get all the advantage too of having honed itself against such tough competition.
Any of the four can make the finals and I guess it will all boil down to consistency.
The college division, on the other hand, has the University of the Visayas (UV) and the University of Southern Philippines-Foundation (USP-F) in the top two spots.
USPF has four points on a win and a draw, while UV is second with three after losing to USPF.
For USP-F coach Eleazer Toledo, it’s too early to tell how they’d fare despite the good start.
“I have eight senior high players, they are still too young but so far, they’re playing at a fast pace,” said Toledo, who has been to the finals four times.
Another thing the teams have to contend with is the schedule as the latest revision calls for a Wednesday game. I think that will make conditioning a factor, especially late in the second round.
USC, the three-time champion, tasked to keep the title for 10 years, is currently fourth after opening with a draw with USJ-R, while the University of Cebu is last after losing to UV on its opener.
Can USC keep the crown? Well I don’t think it can afford to look that far this early. It has to make the finals first and teams like UV and USJ-R I think have set their eyes on a finals spot this year, so it better watch out.