In watching all the hand-wringing and saber-rattling over the start of the realignment process in the Sac-Joaquin Section, not to mention the inevitable remaking of the Central Section, one thought comes to mind: Look to the west for wisdom.
Because there, you’ll see three leagues that have been reorganized in a matter of weeks, for the better.
In a series of decisions with lightning-like speed, the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League, which consists of most public schools in Santa Cruz County, has voted itself out of existence for football.
Most SCCAL schools have formed an alliance with the Mission Trail Athletic League, which serves much of Monterey County, to form two seven-team equity leagues that will start play this fall.
According to my friends at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley will join Carmel, King City, Pacific Grove, Soledad and Stevenson in one league, while Harbor, Santa Cruz, Soquel and St. Francis (Watsonville) join Gonzales, Marina and Greenfield in the other.
The lone exception is Aptos High, which is expected to join the area’s power league for football, the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division.
Just like in the Monterey Bay League, teams will be moved up and down in division at the end of each season depending on performance, a system which should be familiar to those who follow European soccer.
It was Aptos’ dominance of the SCCAL over the past few years – six straight league titles and three Central Coast Section crowns – as well as numerous lopsided victories this past season (87-6 over Harbor, 52-0 over Santa Cruz and 55-0 over Soquel) that prompted the change.
If all continues according to plan, Aptos’ football program – which produced former Fresno State and NFL star Trent Dilfer, now at ESPN – will join the likes of Palma and San Benito and receive a proper challenge.
Aptos was the only school in the SCCAL that fielded a freshman team along with a JV program.
The other former SCCAL members get what high school athletes in any sport ask for – a chance to compete for league titles and playoff spots without fear of embarrassment.
There will be an increase in travel costs, naturally, and some rivalries will be reduced to non-league games.
But all in all, it’s one of those rare win-win situations that work out for all.