Last year, after the Santa Monica High football team finished the regular season with a mediocre 3-2 record, it was placed in the same postseason bracket as the top two squads from its league.

It seemed like a sign of potential trouble for the Vikings, who ended up bowing out in the first round of the Western Division playoffs with a 34-18 loss to Torrance-West.

In a different system, Samohi might have enjoyed a longer postseason. And a different system could be coming soon.

A recently proposed arrangement that has gained traction in the CIF Southern Section eschews geographical proximity in an attempt to improve competitive equity in the playoffs.

“A lot of people are interested in the concept,” section commissioner Rob Wigod said in a recent phone interview. “This is a potential major change for our section, but something that moves us forward and addresses the most important issue that people want addressed: competitive playoffs. If you look at it that way, the potential for this to make a difference in our sports is very significant.”

The proposal will be submitted to the section council for review in early October, and a vote on the matter is expected in January. If approved, the new playoff system would be implemented in the fall of 2016.

The changes would impact football as well as basketball, soccer, water polo, girls volleyball and girls tennis, Wigod said.

Instead of league teams being placed in the same playoff divisions, schools would be grouped based on two years of data on regular-season results, strength of schedule and section playoff performance.

The formula would produce power rankings that would then be split into competitively balanced playoff divisions.

“You’re grouping schools that are competitive with each other and having them compete in divisions for division championships,” Wigod said. “Say there’s a certain league with a very strong team and two others that aren’t to their level. If they all go to the same division, two of those teams have no business being there. This way, all the teams from that league are placed where they can compete because they all have about the same performance level.”

First-year Samohi coach Ramsey Lambert generally supported the philosophy behind the proposal, the specifics of which he had not yet analyzed.

The former La Canada coach said the proposed system probably would have made a difference for his team last year, when it lost 48-0 to Ontario-Colony in the first round of the Central Division playoffs.

“In many ways, it makes sense,” he said. “I think it’s good. It keeps some equity.”

One potential consequence, Lambert said, could be long road trips in the postseason. Teams traveling to play competitively similar opponents will likely venture well beyond their league regions.

“I’m sure they’re trying to level the playing field a little bit with the best intentions,” he said. “It still won’t make everybody happy.”

For now, Lambert is focusing on getting the Vikings qualified for this year’s postseason. Their campaign continues Sept. 18 with a nonconference game at Simi Valley-Grace Brethren, which lost in the section’s East Valley title game last year.

“Our schedule doesn’t get any easier,” he said. “We’re just going to put our head down and go to work.”

jeff@www.smdp.com

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