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Ventura County Star (California)
New and revamped leagues, new opportunities for some schools and a new set of complaints for others.
The Northern Area is back in the releaguing business. The 48 Ventura County high schools approved their next regional league structure Thursday that offers up dramatic changes, unbridled optimism and, perhaps, cause for appeals.
Area principals and administrators, meeting at Oxnard High, accomplished all that by winnowing a list of 42 initial proposals to one plan that gained approval with 35 of 48 votes in the final tally. This next two-year league cycle begins in the fall of 2018.
The highlights, for plan No. 5 authored by the Tri-County Athletic Association, include:
A beefed-up Pacific View League that adds longtime Channel League entries Ventura and Buena highs to its membership.
The end of the Marmonte, Camino and Canyon football association. Instead, they become separate leagues augmented by new members Grace Brethren and Bishop Diego.
A new league for Hueneme but not for Channel Islands. Hueneme joins a new still unnamed league that includes Santa Paula, Fillmore, Carpinteria, Nordhoff, Malibu and, for football only, Santa Clara. Channel Islands remains in the Pacific View League.
A new league for Agoura, which moves into the Coastal Canyon League from the Marmonte League.
Football, as usual, remains the key element for most Northern Area schools. Ahead is a whole new look for the Marmonte, Camino and Canyon teams.
The Marmonte League, for football only, features Westlake, Oaks Christian, Newbury Park and Calabasas. The Camino League will include St. Bonaventure, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and Grace Brethren.
Competing in the Canyon League will be Oak Park, Royal, Simi Valley, Agoura and Bishop Diego.
The new plan is official, yet tentative. Appeals to the CIF-SS releaguing committee, executive council and general membership are a possibility.
Who's happy and who is not? Reactions were widespread.
Both Ventura and Buena have mixed emotions about joining the Pacific View League and ending their long association with the Channel League.
"It's bittersweet," said Ventura Athletic Director Dave Hess. "We've had long relationships with the Santa Barbara schools, and we get along great with their administrators and coaches.
"At the same time, there are a lot of opportunities for us in joining the Pacific View League. Competitively it's a good fit and from a geography standpoint; we're a lot closer."
Buena athletic director Craig Williams also sees the advantages.
"We've enjoyed our association with the Channel League, but we're moving into a league we're very familiar with. We already play those schools in many of our non-league games, and the distance is a plus. We no longer will be getting back to school at 10:30 after coming back from Santa Barbara."
Pacific View League schools seem pleased with their new rivals.
"We're all happy with it," Rio Mesa Athletic Director Chris Ruffinelli said. "We always want the best competitive equity possible, and we have that by adding those two schools. Travel-wise, it makes sense, and we like the idea of becoming something different from a five-team league. Scheduling is no longer much of a problem."
The happiest school at meeting's end was Hueneme, which suddenly can blossom into a league strong boy in its new digs.
"We're mainly looking at the opportunity to be competitive in all sports," said Hueneme Athletic Director Pablo Gallegos. "It's great for our players, our coaches and our school. It's awfully difficult to build up your athletic programs when there's not much chance you can even make the playoffs.
"Now we have those opportunities."
Santa Paula Athletic Director Danny Guzman said his school's new league will be a boon for its members.
"It's something we've been working at getting done for the past two years," he said. "We're a little tired of moving up and down (in the TCAA). We like the teams we're playing and we like the competitive equity. It's very exciting for us."
Many of the area's strongest football programs will find themselves with new dance partners beginning in the fall of 2018 campaign.
Grace Brethren athletic director R,J. Blackwell said the school has no problems moving up in class for football. The school remains in the TCAA in all other sports.
"We fine with it," he said. "Coach (Josh) Henderson has done a great job building up our program, and we'll appreciate playing the stronger competition."
Other schools were not so happy.
Neither Newbury Park nor Thousand Oaks were pleased with their placements - the Panthers in the Marmonte League and Thousand Oaks in the Camino League. Appeals might be forthcoming.
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