Division 1: Bishop Amat is here, but can the Lancers stay? Remember, now programs have to earn their keep. This is Amat’s worst nightmare given that so many Lancers alums think playing in D-1 is their God given right thanks to past success. But now you gotta earn your keep. Lulls like what took place BEFORE the Class of 2016 put the the program back on the map with back-to-back semis appearances will result in a drop to D-2 (where I think Amat belongs anyway). Just ask Crespi, which got booted out. Mission Viejo joins the fray, but head coach Bob Johnson is on record as saying his team won’t play against private schools in the playoffs. 18 teams for 16 spots sounds dicey but it’s really not.
Division 2: This is the D-1 rejects pool. Nice try Notre Dame, Norco, Crespi, Oaks Christian, but you weren’t D-1 material. Now, you’re here. And this is one helluva division. La Habra, though? How do the Highlanders go D-1 instead of La Mirada?
Division 3: La Mirada, St. Francis and La Serna (all teams that were in the Southeast Division) last season land here. Throw in Hart and Los Alamitos. This another really sexy division.
Division 4: Charter Oak headlines the local flavor. The Chargers are in rebuild mode to an extent, but they always give a good account. Sierra Canyon, which appears earmarked for D-1 within the next 5 years, lands here. Lompoc is a pretty awesome name to have in the group, but I pity the team that has to play up there.
Division 5: No locals in here. Nothing really stands out. 22 teams. Have fun.
Division 6: San Marino’s Central Division title landed the Titans a very tall assignment here. Is San Marino about to go back to being a very good Mid-Valley Division team, or is it a program on this much of a rise? An amazing class of senior is gone, so this looks a bit tough for the Titans. This is also where Los Altos, West Covina and Bonita land. Los Altos is supposed to have its dream season this fall, but this division looks stacked.
Division 7: Monrovia NOT in the same division as San Marino? And in a lower one, no less? WOW! The ‘Cats are here. So is D-Ranch and South Hills. The Huskies are hoping to start their Bechtel-led ascent right now, so this looks like a good place to do it. St. Paul HAS TO BE thinking this is a very doable assignment.
Division 8: San Dimas not being in the same division as Monrovia will rub some local fans wrong. It is hard to understand why the Saints aren’t a division higher. But hey, that doesn’t mean they win this thing either. The Greg Gano Era at Don Lugo starts in D-8. Interesting. And finally there’s Northview. This is supposed to be the Vikes’ dream season. And while the regular season should be spectacular, Northview looks to be in for a fight from the word “go” once the postseason begins. This division is very tricky.
Division 9: LOTSA PASADENA FLAVA FOR YA EAR! Muir, La Salle and Maranatha … BOOM! And some Whittier area love in El Rancho and Cal. But, none of those locals will be considered among the favorites … at least not right away. This is another very well-configured division. Esperanza is looking to make another climb to D-1 status and this is a great place to start. That’s your favorite!
Division 10: The locals in here — Whittier, South Pas and Santa Fe, don’t really stack up to the top level teams like Rubidoux and Tahquitz. And will any of those even make the playoffs? It’s probably best to concentrate on that part first.
Division 11: Some nice local programs are in here. Proven winners, i.e. Covina, Rosemead, Montebello. Plus, up and coming Arcadia. And yet teams like Culver City or Bellflower or a former big dog like Eisenhower are the ones to sweat. Very interesting. Oh yeah, Pasadena, which is trying to build on beating Muir last year, is also here.
Division 12: Solid local programs in this group include Arroyo, Schurr and Whittier Chr., La Canada. Arroyo looks like a lock to make the field of 16 as it is the overwhelming favorite in the Mission Valley League this year. Schurr is a guessing game. La Canada is the same. Remember, you gotta qualify. Once in, I’m not sure any of the locals can hang around too long.
Division 13: This is where Temple City, Rowland and Nogales will go to try and recapture the glory days. Cantwell is also here. So is La Puente and El Monte. Heck, there’s a boat load of locals in this 84-school grouping. What’s key for teams like these is actually just making the playoffs and not sweating who is in the division.