Get ready to become acquainted with the word realignment. Something tells me you’ll be hearing that word a time or two over the next month. That’s why we’ll waist no time going into one of the major results of the realignment of the North Coast Section’s Bay Shore Conference.
What happened to the HAAL and what is the deal with the WACC?
After more than 50 years of existence, the Hayward Area Athletic League is gone. Cue the tears (and yes, for me, a former HAAL athlete, there is some sadness to see the HAAL disappear). But the disappearance of the HAAL could lead to some great competition in plenty of sports, including football.
Essentially, all of the former HAAL — minus Moreau Catholic — joins the new West Alameda County Conference. The conference is broken up into the Foothill League and the Shoreline League. (They went with calling it a conference, rather than a league. And it’s broken up into leagues, rather than division. Really, it’s apples and apples here. The WACC is a league and the Foothill and Shoreline are divisions, for all intents and purposes).
Four new teams join the remaining HAAL members to make up the 12-team conference. Each league has six teams.
The Foothill (A) League contains: Berkeley, Bishop O’Dowd, Castro Valley, Encinal, Hayward and San Leandro. That’s a pretty darn good league. Outside of Hayward, which has had some lean years recently, all those teams are fairly competitive. Castro Valley isn’t as strong as it once was, but had a decent year last season. But the battle between Berkeley, O’Dowd, Encinal and San Leandro will be fierce. I’m really looking forward to a lot of those games.
The Shoreline (B) League contains: Alameda, Arroyo, Mt. Eden, Piedmont, San Lorenzo and Tennyson. There’s no mistaking that the dip between the two leagues is significant. But Alameda has had years in which it was a strong program, Arroyo has shown promise from time-to-time, Tennyson has made the playoffs back-to-back years (the only two playoff appearances in school history) and Mt. Eden has a 200-plus win coach in Paul Perenon. While I know we’re going to get comments from people bashing the quality of this league, the Shoreline should be very competitive and that’s what the point of this league set up is. The best teams get to compete at the top and the other guys get to compete at a more equitable level. I think that’s what we’ll see this year.
Both leagues will receive an automatic berth to the NCS playoffs. I know some contend that the B league shouldn’t, bu that’s the way it is. If it were up to me, I’d give the B league the automatic berth but maybe drop the automatic home game. That way a B league winner would need to be a top 8 seed to get a home game. I don’t see that happening, but that’s something I’d like to see eventually. Anyways, there should be plenty of interesting topics throughout the year as this new league gets underway.