In ninth grade, Chad Kanoff ’13 threw two incomplete passes at the end of the 2009 varsity football team’s last playoff game. The Wolverines were losing by five touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to powerhouse Oaks Christian in the second round of CIF playoffs when then Head Coach Vic Eumont took out starting quarterback Oliver Lowry ’10 to let Kanoff get his feet wet in a playoff atmosphere. The Wolverines ultimately lost 45-10 to Oaks Christian that year and have not appeared in a playoff game since.
On Friday, Nov. 9, Kanoff will finally return to a playoff game in his senior season, three years after the Wolverines last played in the postseason, when the Wolverines take on Camarillo in the first round of CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs.
“The atmosphere at a playoff game is a lot different,” Kanoff recalled. It’s win or go home, the game starts later, it’s colder because it’s later in the year and you’re playing a team that you don’t know, which is really cool.”
Despite dropping their last three games of the season, the Wolverines did just enough to earn an at-large bid to CIF playoffs for the first time since joining the Mission League. The Wolverines, who switched from the Del Rey League to the more competitive Mission League, missed the playoffs the last two years after going 0-5 in league in 2010 and 1-4 in league last season.
“I think that’s a big deal for us to make the playoffs after not making the playoffs for a bunch of years,” Kanoff said. “There’s urgency for me just because I’m a senior and it’s our last year, but should be good for the program moving forward.”
The Wolverines finished the regular season 6-4 overall and 2-3 in league. The Wolverines would have been guaranteed a spot in playoffs had they finished in one of the three top spots in Mission League standings. However, the Wolverines finished in fourth place in the six team league after beating St. Paul and St. Francis to start league play but losing to Chaminade, Cathedral and Serra.
The Wolverines were able to earn an at-large bid to the postseason because of the strength of their schedule coming from the Mission League, regarded by coaches as the best in the division. St. Francis, who finished in fifth place in Mission League standings at 4-6 overall and 1-4 in league, received the second at-large bid to the playoffs.
Sixteen teams in total received playoff bids, including the two at-large teams, the top three teams from the Mission, Pacific View, Los Padres and Ocean View Leagues and the top two teams from the Pacific View League.
Maxpreps.com ranks the Wolverines as the fourth best team in the Western Division, ahead of fifth ranked Camarillo and sixth ranked Cathedral. Cathedral, who is ranked behind Harvard-Westlake despite beating the Wolverines on Homecoming by a score of 37-27, would face the Wolverines in the second round if it beat eighth-ranked Santa Barbara and the Wolverines beat Camarillo. The Wolverines would then have potential rematches with Chaminade and Serra, who beat the Wolverines by a combined 71 points this year, in the final two rounds if the Wolverines were to get past the first two rounds. If the Wolverines won all four rounds, they would win the first CIF Championship in the football program’s history.
“Obviously, getting into the playoffs is a nice start, but we don’t want to get in just to go and be happy to make the playoffs,” Head Coach Scot Ruggles said. “We’re obviously looking to upset some people and make a run here.”