April 18, 2007
Kennedy out of its league?

Question: Bill, I read previously why certain high schools are placed in certain divisions/leagues. Sounds a bit confusing. I was wondering if you had any insight on why Kennedy High School has been placed in the Delta Valley Conference, which appears to be a very competitive baseball league. My son is in the baseball program (JV) and it appears we will have a challenge to stay competive in any given game.

-- Joe Klockgether, Sacramento

Answer: For overall scope of program, especially baseball, Kennedy would be a much better fit in the Metro Conference than the DVC. But the DVC needed a sixth school during realignment and the Cougars geographically fit the bill.

Kennedy also was viewed as having the best overall sports program among Grant and the Sac Unified District schools of Rosemont, Johnson, McClatchy, Sac High and Burbank. The section didn't want to have a seven-team Metro Conference, so Kennedy was viewed as the best to play in the DVC (except in football where Nevada Union takes Kennedy's spot).

But you are right. Kennedy baseball just isn't as competitive against powerhouses like Davis, Elk Grove and Franklin, which are among the area's best.
-- Bill Paterson

April 6, 2007
The lowdown on leagues and divisions

Question: You recently wrote an article about the Woodland/Elk Grove baseball game at Raley Field. Woodland is the defending Division II baseball

champion, but has "dropped to Division III". I also see that the Division III Tri-County Conference contains Yuba City, a D-I team last year, and Pioneer, a Division IV team last year.

So, the question is: What are the criteria for placing high school teams in divisions/leagues?

Woodland used to be a Division I school, but presumably lost considerable enrollment when Pioneer was opened. Last football season I read that, at the state level, enrollment is the sole criterion for placing schools in divisions. Why does this region do it differently?
-- Alan Shank, Woodland

Answer: When it comes to what schools are in which leagues, enrollment isn't nearly as important these days as competitive balance, scope of programs and geographic location. When they formed the new Tri-County Conference, Sac-Joaquin Section officials figured that older, larger schools such as Woodland, Yuba City and Natomas would lose some of their enrollment to their respective newer rival schools Pioneer, River Valley and Inderkum, so eventually all should be of similar size.

With more new schools coming on board, they also wanted to create more playoff divisions, going from five to seven divisions in sports like football and soccer. So that meant established D-II leagues like the Capital Athletic League (Bella Vista, Del Campo etc.) and Solano County Athletic Conference (Benicia, Vanden, etc.) would now compete at the D-3 level along with a new Tri-County Conference. So schools with declining enrollments such as Yuba City (D-1 in 2005-06) and Woodland (D-II in 2005-06) had to drop down a division while a school like Pioneer (D-IV in 2005-06), with increasing enrollment, moved up. But these schools are united more by the similiarties of their programs and communities and their geographic proximity than enrollment.

State football is a whole different story. Whereas section playoffs are under the auspices of the various largely autonomous members of the California Interscholastic Federation, the state playoffs are sponsored by CIF headquarters.

To keep things simple in a mammoth state, officials decided to have three division championships based on enrollment. So the largest one-third enrollment schools (1751-plus) in Northern California were all lumped into Division I, the middle third (1001-1750) into Division II and the bottom third (1000 or lower) into Division III.

So that's why we had D-III section football champion Del Campo and D-II section football champion Grant being placed among the D-I schools for state playoff consideration (and having no chance because of the presence of De La Salle). If the state football playoffs continue to spark a lot of interest, the CIF no doubt will expand divisions, which should alleviate some of the perceived unfairness.
-- Bill Paterson

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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