30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 9): Talking about the A’s and B’s

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.

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.

  • junior

    Well said Jimmy.

  • S1lverngreen

    Great write up Jimmy!

  • Dragon

    Well put… i dont know about everybody else but i would rather see my team lose a close tight game then win a blow out… playing sub par teams also hurts the good players with recruiting schools

  • The alignment was correct the only bubble was out of Alameda, Hayward, Arroyo, & Tennyson. Looking at all the B teams one really sticks out & thats Alameda. The only school that has a healthy 3 programs. All others are fielding 2 some barely 2. They have a solid group of athletes year in & year out. Early 2000’s they really made a surge. Nothing has changed.

    Vice versa in the A league. Every school can field 3 levels except Encinal & Hayward( I heard they are bringing it back) who field 2. No issue with that Encinal is too good to be in the B league. Hayward has been struggling late they should have been B league. Struggling & not fielding 3 levels is reason to be in the B league.

    Alameda has the talent & the numbers to be good & build a program through Freshmen football. It doesn’t make sense that their Freshmen are probably gonna be playing every team in the A league the week they play Encinal.

  • EBfootball

    Hiring better coaches has EVERYTHING to do with how well a program can improve. And is as simple as that. That’s why you write articles about big time new coaches taking over programs.

    Every single time we’ve seen a coaching change a team has improved or got worse. Moreno leaving Hayward, Wade to Dublin, Tenorio to Encinal, Beam leaving Skyline, Gumbs to O high, Zo to Mack, Hennesse to Alameda, Murphy leaving YV, Sanchez leaving Cal High. I can go on and on.

    If O’Down can get rid of Perenon for not performing at a high enough level than nobody’s job should be safe.

  • I think the A and B divisions are a poor way to balance out talent.

    Someone mentioned on an earlier blog what a great way the Marin County Athletic League ran the league.

    Not knowing much about it I looked it up and WOW it really does work. They have a 9 team league in which the bottom two teams each season do not play the top two teams the next season.

    In my opinion not only does this allow teams to cycle up and down ( which all public programs do ) they do not crushed by the top teams year in and year out.
    It keeps more teams in the middle, in the middle of the pack.
    Looking on Cal-preps going back to 2007 I found in interesting that the mighty Marin Catholic was 4-6 and a team that finished 0-10 last season just two years before finished 10-2 after years of losing seasons.

  • Prep Fan

    @#5 EB Football, Cal High had their best team in school history 2 years after Sanchez left. Maybe not the best example? Sanchez was/is a great coach and motivator though.

  • Bill Weber


    I think you are correct about Alameda and instead Encinal should in the B division since they will likely have a losing record this year.

  • MiraMan


    Clearly better coaches are NOT EVERYTHING in determining the health of a program. No doubt a lousy coach can screw things up royally. I still believe raw talent is the top factor and coaching is #2. Even some of your examples prove this:

    You mention Perenon at O’Dowd. I don’t get your reference. They were good with Perenon and they’re still good. How did bringing in Nickerson turn the program around? In fact, I would argue that Nickerson’s success has everything to do with elite talent and NOT elite coaching.

    You mention Moreno at Hayward. But when he left Hayward he went to Dublin for a 4-year stint where he couldn’t get above 3-7. Whatever magic he had must have gone away!

    Then you mention Wade as some great coach at Miramonte. But remember, Wade took over a winning franchise in Miramonte, he didn’t build it! He was more of a steward than an architect. Then he goes to Dublin at a time when everyone in DFAL, including Wade, knew they had a great crop of talent coming up. In his first year he goes 6-4 regular season – not very impressive given the level of talent they had. I’d wait a couple of seasons before crowning him a success at Dublin. Once again, I would argue talent drove coaching success not the other way around.

  • ManDown

    Prep Fan, Sanchez built that program at Cal and had them in position to beat the mighty De la Salle. If he was there 2 years ago he might have got it done against them.

  • EBfootball

    @PrepFan: Not the best example but there was a dip after he left
    @MiraMan: The point about Moreno was that he left Hayward and they went nowhere. They got a new coach in Wade and they’re in the DII semis instead of being in the cellars. (so you really just helped prove my point). And the thing about Perenon is that if a school has the nerve to fire a legendary coach (of course to improve their program) than schools with perennial losing records should have the nerve. And there are a ton of teams who have talent and go nowhere (eg San Lorenzo)

    Far more teams have improved with coaching changes rather than keeping the same Coaches and that’s a fact. I welcome examples of teams improving with no coaching changes. Another one to prove my point Faleval to Fremont.

  • Dudleydawson

    Miraman then why hasnt el cerrito done anything all the talent in the world? Look how encinal has turned it around. Slz has athletes werent they playing in the colisuem not too long ago? Peronon is a stretch never thought much of him. Will see this year with his schedule if he cant go .500,,,fu**!

  • So lets just say it’s a combination of good coaching/good players. The combo of good coaching/ great players also works. Look at Sanchez/Bishop Gorman. Of course DLS is the odd combo, lousy coaching/NFL steroid players from Mars- most likely not from this universe.

  • sometimes its a new coach with good talent. I bet Marlon Blanton going to Jesuit is going to be a success.
    He’s already making changes and most likely will have DLS on their schedule by next year or so.

  • Prep Fan

    Either there was a 1 yewr dip after Sanchez left, or they had the best team in school history 2 years later bacause of him. But it can’t be both.

  • FNL680

    Cal’s new HC in’09 changed to a new offense in his first season after Sanchez left.

  • Brainiac

    I would agree with ebfootball #11, San Lorenzo is loaded with talent. Coach Wright runs an I formation offense which is outdated and a disservice to the kids in the area. I don’t understand how a coach can lose so many games and still hold his job. They lost 10 games last year. I would say 0-10 should raise some eye brows. How does wright do it? He must kiss some major booty to the admin over there.

  • TJ

    he’s an on-campus coach.. thats how

  • FNL680

    San Lorenzo is getting a full blown new athletic complex. Football/baseball/softball. If newly signed pro Golden can add a midas touch to the baseball program, that’ll be nice props.

    Cal ran a power I with Sanchez, having a big/strong lin;, routinely ran jumbo with 10 in the box and did well. Mandown @11- he would’ve known the onside kick rule.

  • Moreaufan2

    Good coaches run the correct system for their players! There are many ways to do things in football but you have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of you players in order to find the right Offense and Defense to run. It cant always be just hit em in the mouth! De La Salle has ran the veer for years, and won many games, why? becuz it fits what they can do, and its also not very hard to teach its quick hitting, downhill, and it really doesnt matter the size of ur line!