Glenn Martinez may have 84 reasons to send the Hacienda League packing
The Hacienda League, mainly by virtue of the West Covina High School football team’s dominant postseason run of the past two years, appears to be a good bet to get a bump in competition for the next two seasons when new CIF-Southern Section Assistant Commissioner Glenn Martinez releases his football playoff grouping proposals next month.
The Bulldogs, after winning back-to-back Southeast Division championships, figure to be headed to a new playoff division, taking the rest of the Hacienda League with them.
“Wherever they put us is fine with me,” West Covina coach Mike Maggiore said. “I think it’s fair. I’d like to think our program is at a point where we can be competitive in the current division, and if we were moved up to a higher division, then we could be competitive wherever we’re at.”
Martinez is in his first year at the Southern Section and is charge of the football playoff groupings. Martinez has ties to the area after serving as an administrator at Bishop Amat and Charter Oak. He was hired by the CIF Southern Section to replace Rob Wigod, who was made Southern Section commissioner following the resignation of Jim Staunton.
The Southern Section reviews playoff groupings and makes changes it feels are necessary based on competitive equity every two years. League groupings are done every four years.
Using a numbers-based formula, Martinez will gauge the competitive equity in all Southern Section divisions and make recommendations for changes where he sees fit. After West Covina’s record-setting run in the playoffs this past season, it’s easy to assume the Bulldogs and the Hacienda will either be moving up or stay put while the Southeast Division beefed up with better competition. The latter appears to be a long shot.
Once Martinez releases his recommendations for the 2012 and ’13 seasons, the schools will have a chance to review them and decide whether they want to appeal. The appeals can only be made on the criteria of competitive equity, geography and enrollment. The Southern Section Council will finalize everything by vote in April.
The Southwest or Central divisions seem to be the best fit if the Hacienda League is moved. Beside West Covina, the Hacienda League consists of Bonita, Diamond Bar, Diamond Ranch, Los Altos, Rowland and Walnut. The league was formed two years ago after the Miramonte and San Antonio leagues were dissolved. Diamond Bar had previously competed in the Sierra League.
According to Southern Section Director of Information Thom Simmons, Martinez’s numbers-based formula will be based on the entire league’s playoff performance the past two seasons.
Last season, Bonita and West Covina, two Hacienda League teams, met in the championship game. This season, West Covina’s closest game in the playoffs was a 29-point win over La Mirada in the semifinals. The Bulldogs set a CIF record for points in a championship game by scoring 84 on La Serna.
“It’s not Glenn just throwing numbers at a dartboard,” Simmons said. “He’s using a numbers system, as best you can, to determine where a league should be placed. Obviously, there’s no perfect method. Could a (San Gabriel) Valley league like the Hacienda League end up in an Orange County division? Sure, that absolutely possible. It’s happened before. I don’t know that it will happen, but that’s always a possibility.”
Although area fans may like the idea of seeing West Covina placed in a tougher division, the rest of the Hacienda League may not like getting pulled up with the Bulldogs. But that’s just something the other schools will have to accept, according to Bonita coach Eric Podley.
“It will definitely depend on what division we got put in,” Podley said when asked how he and other Hacienda coaches may react to being bumped up on mostly West Covina’s behalf. “Obviously, if we got put in there with the Sierra League and those kinds of schools, for the majority of our league that would be a difficult situation. If we got put in that division with La Habra and those other teams, that might be a little more manageable for us.
“Either way, it’s going to be a little tougher for the rest of the league than it is for West Covina. Two years ago, we were in the finals. So we all play a factor in it. It’s not just West Covina, but obviously West Covina had a pretty dominant in these last playoffs. Maybe another way of doing it would be some of these other leagues moving down instead of us moving up. Maybe they should take some more competitive leagues and put them in our division.”
After two years of success, West Covina faces the same challenge that Charter Oak did after winning the Southeast Division in 2008 and ’09. The Chargers were moved to the Inland Division where they’ve won one playoff game in the past two years.
Unlike Charter Oak, however, West Covina’s success does not coincide with the re-leaguing process. So there’s no chance that the Bulldogs will be placed in a new league like Charter Oak was in 2010 when it moved to the Sierra League. That might be good news for the Bulldogs, but bad news for the rest of the Hacienda.
“Last year there were two games in the playoffs that we could have easily lost, the semifinals and the finals,” Maggiore said. “This year, I think the rest of the division might have been down a little bit and we were playing really well at the end. I don’t think it’s going to happen every year like that
Aram’s take: My vibe is the Hacienda is headed to the Northwest Division or Central Division. Very little chance of the Inland Division. I think that beefing up the Southeast Division would be a better option, but that requires considerable work and more people would face upheaval. I think what’s important to note here is that West Covina’s dominance this year wasn’t because it was a better team than last year. The 2010 team was better and so was the division. This season, Bonita and D-Ranch were considerably weaker. La Serna was even weaker. The Bulldogs were simply too much for a division in rebuild mode. So there’s going to be an overreaction, but it’s probably warranted.