Note: Ruling expected today, don’t hold your breath, the chances of the Valle Vista or Montview winning are slim to none.
By Aram Tolegian
Representatives from the Montview and Valle Vista leagues got a chance Tuesday to state their cases for appeal before the CIF-Southern Section committee on playoff grouping proposals for high school football. Azusa athletic director Sandy Gahring represented the Montview League while Wilson athletic director Scott Fessenden spoke on behalf of the Valle Vista League. The leagues made nearly identical arguments against the proposals and their solution was the same – keep the Almont League from joining the Mid-Valley Division.
Southern Section commissioner Jim Staunton will contact Gahring and Fessenden this morning with the council’s decision.
“We happened to go in the room at the same time that the Wilson AD was presenting, and he pretty much had the same argument we had,” Gahring said.
The Montview and Valle Vista objection to the proposal of adding the Almont League to the Mid-Valley Division is two-pronged. Both leagues dislike the idea of a division that gives only two guaranteed playoff berths to each of its six leagues; the final four spots would be at-large berths awarded by CIF.
The second issue is the Almont League simply is too big to fit in the division. The six Almont League schools are in the top seven in enrollment in the division.
The Mid-Valley was a five-team division last season. The CIF proposal adds the Almont while eliminating no other league. The change will reduce the number of guaranteed playoff spots for all of the leagues, but nowhere will it be felt harder than the eight-team Montview and seven-team Valle Vista.
“The reason CIF wants to put them (Almont League) in this division is because they were asking for relief since they were getting killed in their division,” said Gahring, who’s in her 18th year as athletic director at the school.
“They (CIF) listened and asked questions. What they come up with, I have no idea, but I think the process is a good one.”
Last season, Azusa got to see firsthand what it’s like to compete against the Almont. The Aztecs, who had one of their best seasons in recent history, were no match for Bell Gardens in a 34-6 loss in September.
Bell Gardens finished fourth in the Almont. The Aztecs finished 11-2 and lost in the semifinals.
“You’re always impressed by people who take the time and effort to state their case,” Southern Section director of information Thom Simmons said.
“I think the process was fair and appreciated by both the appellants and committee members.”
Should the leagues lose their appeals, they can try again with the CIF executive committee on April 20. If that appeal isn’t granted, they can appeal again on April 29 at the Southern Section council meetings.
Both appeals, however, can be made only on process.