The landscape of the CIF-Southern Section football playoffs are about to get a major face lift.
The Southern Section office released its playoff grouping proposals for 2014-16 on Tuesday morning and things figure to look a whole lot different this fall if they’re passed into reality later this month.
It starts at the top where the Pac-5 Division will see the Big VIII League moved in to beef up the competition for teams like Corona Centennial. The rest of the division includes the Moore, Marmonte, and Trinity leagues, and a yet-to-be named Catholic league that includes several traditional powers.
The Central Division got a major overhaul. The newly formed Palomares League will join the Hacienda, Sunkist, Mt. Baldy and Rio Hondo leagues. That means a steep rise in class is coming for area powerhouse Monrovia, which is coming off a dominating run in the Mid-Valley Division where it won three consecutive division championships between 2010-12.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Rio Hondo League, which has lagged far behind Monrovia in recent years, will also be getting bumped up. Monrovia athletic director Randy Bell said the league will appeal the proposal based on competitive equity and enrollment.
Leagues can appeal the proposals to the playoff grouping appeals committee and a meeting to handle appeals will be held by the Southern Section on May 28.
“There are some high quality and very good football programs in that division,” first-year Monrovia coach Brett Stevens said. “I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were going to be moving up, but I just didn’t know how high or where.
“It’s going to be a challenge. We welcome the challenge. We’re looking forward to moving up, but that is a significant jump going from the old Division 11 to Division 5.”
The new-look Central would be a boon for area fans who are likely to see some intriguing combinations of local teams square off in the postseason. It will also mean a return to a more realistic division for Glendora, which languished in the Baseline League and Inland Division the past several years.
The Tartans are now in the Palomares League and could see a return to local prominence on the gridiron, especially with the top quarterback in the area in Matt Fink around for the next two years.
“You look at our league and you’ve to play well every week just to make the playoffs,” Tartans head coach Jerry Lewallen said. “Then you look at the division, and there’s some great football programs in there.”
St. Francis saw its chances at championship glory get a boost. The Knights and the rest of the new-look Mission League are slated to join the Southeast Division to battle against the Pacific, Suburban, San Gabriel Valley and Del Rio leagues.
In the last two months, St. Francis has gone from thinking it might be placed in the Pac-5 Division to now being placed in a much more doable situation in the Southeast. This offseason, the Knights have also seen powerhouses Serra and Chaminade vacate the Mission League for the Pac-5.
“It’s not like it’s going to be a walk in the park,” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “I still think there are some pretty darn good football teams in that division. La Serna beat Westlake two years in a row. Compton Domiguez, you never know how strong they’re going to be. La Mirada beat us at their place two years ago.
“For us to say it’s our division and we’re going to win several CIF titles the next several years is not very smart.”
San Dimas’ prospects of winning another Mid-Valley Division championship improved with the exodus of Monrovia and the Rio Hondo League. Over the past years, the Mid-Valley has either been won by Monrovia and San Dimas, and with the Wildcats no longer around that could mean a huge run is looming for the Saints.
San Dimas now looks like perennial favorites in a division that is likely to be comprised of the Almont, Gold Coast, Montview, Mission Valley, Miramote and Valle Vista leagues.
“I want to see how far we can take this thing,” San Dimas head coach Bill Zernickow said. “I kinda liked the rivalry with Monrovia. That was always a motivating factor for our guys. Paraclete is still going to be good. And I think Pomona has gotten real good, too. We have to contend with that.”