By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Representatives from the Montview and Valle Vista leagues knew their appeals on Tuesday to the CIF-Southern Section football playoff grouping committee regarding the Mid-Valley Division’s addition of the Almont League were a long shot to be upheld. And they found out why on Wednesday. The committee voted 7-0 to deny the appeals with two voters abstaining because they’re from the area. The abstentions were by Rob Roberts of the Hacienda-La Puente Unified School District and Candace Cayer of the Pomona Unified School District.
The Montview League, represented by Azusa High School athletic director Sandy Gahring, and the Valle Vista League, represented by Wilson athletic director Mark Fessenden, had argued the regrouping proposal should be disallowed because the Almont League poses two problems to the division.
The first was the Almont’s schools are too big. The second was adding the league will reduce the number of guaranteed playoff spots for each league in the division to two teams. The final four spots would be at-large berths awarded by CIF.
The Montview, with eight teams, and Valle Vista, with seven, are the two largest leagues in the division. The Almont League, which consists of Alhambra, Bell Gardens, Keppel, Montebello, San Gabriel and Schurr,boast six of the division’s seven largest student enrollments.
“We just have to get better, plain and simple,” said Covina coach Darryl Thomas, whose Colts play in the Valle Vista League. “They (CIF) obviously think we can play against schools that are twice or sometimes three times bigger than we are. So we have to get better.”
The playoff grouping committee denied the appeals because they did not feel either league reached the criteria to change the proposal, according to CIF director of information Thom Simmons. The criteria emphasizes competitive equity first and then factors in enrollment and geography. The Almont sought relief to leave the Southeast Division, where it played the past two seasons and won one playoff game. CIF does not base competitve equity decisions on anything prior to the past two seasons, so Schurr’s 2006 CIF championship was not considered.
“We kind of figured they (CIF) had their minds made up,” Gladstone coach Albert Sanchez said when told of the decision on Wednesday. “We knew it was going to be a long shot just based on the past history of our appeals. But at least we put something together and were heard.
“Now you just go play and do what you have to do.”
CIF heard 15 appeals on Tuesday. Only one was upheld, and that involved the Camino Real League in relation to girls soccer. The regrouping proposals will be made official at the Southern Section council meeting on April 29. Leagues also can file a final appeal at that meeting before a final decision is made.