It’s not report card time, yet. No this question delves into the topic of the so-called “A” and “B” leagues that are a part of the new Tri-County Athletic League and West Alameda County Conference.
When we put out the call for 30Q questions, the topic of teams playing down in the “B” league, particularly in reference to the WACC, was a hot topic in the comments section. If you ask me, a lot of the chatter there was extremely misguided. Commenters are ripping coaches for asking down into the B league, calling them cowards, or just wanting to know why they would want their teams to play down.
For anybody to question why a team such as Mt. Eden would play in the Shoreline League is ridiculous. The Monarchs have won three games in the past three years combined. Even if Mt. Eden wanted a shot in the Foothill League, they wouldn’t have a prayer at being slotted there. In reality, that goes for most of the Shoreline League. San Lorenzo and Piedmont are in the same position as Mt. Eden in that they wouldn’t have been placed in the Shoreline even if they begged.
Tennyson has been competitive the past two years, but not necessarily with the top teams until it beat San Leandro last year. Even so, we’re talking about a program that hasn’t won a league title since 1970. Alameda and Arroyo are programs that have had some solid years recently, but not consistently. Put them in the Shoreline and their chances to compete go way down.
The first five spots in the Shoreline were pretty easy to figure out with Berkeley, Bishop O’Dowd, Castro Valley, Encinal and San Leandro. I’m guessing the final spot came down to Hayward, which has good program history but not as much success lately, along with Alameda, Arroyo and Tennyson. Admittedly, that’s a pretty tough call to make and they went with Hayward.
But the biggest thing to remember is these divisions are a fluid situation. I believe the plan is for them to be set for two years and then teams will move up and down based on performance. Also, for all the comments about “This coach asked to move down” and what not, that’s really not a huge factor. Yes, they do attempt to gauge a school’s interest in which division they feel like they fit best in, but in the end, it’s the program’s history that plays the biggest factor. If Alameda dominates the Shoreline League for two years, while Hayward struggles in the Foothill, you’ll likely see a swap.
The whole idea here is for competitive equity. Personally, it makes me sick that people want to bash the teams in the lower division because they aren’t playing top competition. The reality is that not every program is capable of competing at the same level. And it’s also not as simple as “hire a better coach,” a refrain I’ve seen in the comments section as well. There are just some programs in some areas that will likely never compete with the top teams around. This new set up allows those teams to now remain competitive by playing similar teams.
While I would support a move that perhaps took away home field advantage for the champion of a “B” division (actually, I’d take away home field advantage for all league champions and just make it based on seeds), I don’t see an issue with a team in the “B” division being able to call themselves a champion and get a spot in the playoffs. And really, in high school football, I don’t think home field plays a huge role when there’s a significant difference in talent.