Here is my column from Sunday, in case you missed it.
For one night, the La Verne/San Dimas area was the epicenter of local football.
It wasn’t August and no smudge pot was on the line. But all eyes were on the Bonita and San Dimas high school football teams on Saturday.
Things like this don’t happen often, and they rarely happen in December around these parts. The Bearcats and Saints hosting CIF-Southern Section semifinals playoff games on the same night 15 minutes apart, it had to be a dream.
Nope, it’s the new local reality.
If you would have told me back in September that on a cold December night I’d be splitting time between Bonita and San Dimas watching both play for a shot at a 14th game, I would’ve told you to stop smoking your newspaper.
But it happened, and I should not have been surprised. Depending on where you call home in the Valley, you’re either really happy or really sour at CIF.
A few years ago, San Dimas was stuck in the Northwest Division. The Saints’ first-round opponent in 2007? Oaks Christian. I don’t have to tell you how that turned out. But on Saturday, the Saints were defending Mid-Valley Division champions fighting for another berth in the title game. They came up short, but this obviously no longer is Soft Dimas.
Just last year, Bonita was 3-8. The Bearcats didn’t even score a point against eventual Southeast Division champ Charter Oak in league play. Then they lost to South Hills in the first round.
Bonita now is a viable force in the Southeast Division on the verge of winning a title.
This is the new landscape of local football. The new reality happened for San Dimas a couple years ago when CIF moved the Saints to the Mid-Valley Division.
Divine intervention for Bonita took place this past offseason when CIF shipped Charter Oak and South Hills out to the Inland Division.
I’m not about to say whether either move was right, but the atmosphere at both stadiums kind of says it all.
If CIF was trying to spread the wealth with its moves, then the tactic paid off perfectly. An entirely new area of the Valley is alive with football fever. Check that, high-stakes football fever.
I know this because on my way home, I happened to drive by Charter Oak and it was dark … along with just about everywhere else.