After watching two of its teams make the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division football title game last year in Hart High and Valencia High, the road to a CIF championship for the Foothill League might be about to get much tougher if an appeal supported by the league isn’t successful.
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When the CIF-Southern Section announced its proposed 2014-2016 playoff divisions Tuesday, the Foothill League was moved from the Northern Division to the newly christened West Valley Division – considered the new Division II behind only the PAC 5.
Leagues have until Friday to formally appeal their placement, and appeals can come only on behalf of a league as a whole, and not at an individual school level.
The Foothill League teams in the William S. Hart Union High School District are in support an appeal filed by another league challenging the move, but they aren’t planning their own, said Hart High football head coach Mike Herrington, who is the league’s representative for the CIF.
The Southern Section made a couple of other changes, as well on Tuesday.
After struggling the past two season in Division I, the Foothill League’s boys volleyball teams have been moved down to Division II.
The San Joaquin League, home to Santa Clarita Christian, was moved to the East Valley Division after its former home, the Northeast Division, was abolished.
But football is the big story here, with the Foothill League joined in the West Valley by the Baseline, Southwestern and Sunset leagues.
For Santa Clarita Valley teams to find playoffs success, they’ll have to fight past powerhouses such as South Coasts’ Mission Viejo and Tesoro, Southwestern’s Vista Murrieta (which was the runner-up in the CIF-SS Inland Division last season), the Sunset’s Huntington Beach and the Baseline’s Rancho Cucamonga.
“The level of competition is better for us, and the geographic makeup is better for us (in the appeal),” Herrington said, adding enrollment figures for the schools were also a factor.
Canyon High football head coach Rich Gutierrez said the realignment was anticipated.
“We knew there were going to be travel issues,” he said, adding he supported the appeal, but if it is not successful, the Foothill League schools could benefit from stiffer competition.
“It’s a compliment, actually, to our league,” he said. “I try to see the bright side to everything — obviously, the increased competition is something that’s there. It’s exciting.”
Appeals will be heard on May 28 before the divisions are finalized.
The southern Section conducts divisional groupings for all sports on a two-year rotating basis, and the Foothill has been a member of the Northern Division over the past four cycles, winning division titles in 2006 (Canyon) and 2013 (Hart).
Releaguing cycles take placed every four years, and the Southern Section announced earlier this year that no changes would be made to the Foothill League, with the possible exception that Castaic High would be added were it to open prior to 2018 with sports teams.
According to the CIF-SS, the proposed new divisions were based on geography, average enrollment per league and competitive equity.
The Foothill League didn’t do itself any favors in terms of sticking in Division III with its performance last season.
The league put three teams into the semifinals in Hart, Valencia and Saugus, with Hart defeated Valencia in the title game.
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Source: Santa Clarita News