SBHS: Board approves equity league layout for football, volleyball, cross-country

The Balers celebrate after beating Palma 13-12 Friday night to claim the TCAL title and go a perfect 6-0 in league play.

After three votes Tuesday by the board of managers of the upcoming equity league between the Monterey Bay League and Tri-County Athletic League, San Benito will participate in the league’s upper division for football, cross-country and volleyball, the schools’ athletic director Tod Thatcher confirmed. A decision on tennis and water polo is still upcoming.
The league, which will officially be called the Monterey Bay League, will divide the former league’s 14 schools into two seven-team divisions that will be revised after each athletic season.
The Gabilan Division will be classified as the higher division and the Pacific Division will be the lower division, Thatcher said.
On Tuesday, three fall sports divisions were approved, Thatcher said. In unanimous votes, San Benito was placed in the Gabilan Division for volleyball and cross-country.
Neither placement was a surprise for the school after San Benito won the TCAL championship for the girls and boys cross-country teams and finished second in volleyball, Thatcher said.
But the approval of the new football alignment caused some issues for some of the 14 schools.
After winning the TCAL championship and finishing the season 7-3-1, San Benito was always assured a spot in the Gabilan Division with rival Palma. But the managers struggled with what schools from the MBL should join the TCAL powers, Thatcher said.
Originally, North Monterey County was chosen by the league’s coaches as the third MBL team – with Christopher and Monterey – to make the jump to the higher division with TCAL powers San Benito, Palma, Salinas and Gilroy.
The school’s athletic directors disagreed, and dropped the Condors to the lower division and moved up Alvarez, which finished 2-8 this fall. Tuesday, the board, in a 10-4 vote with one abstention, approved the athletic directors layout.
“There were a lot of things that went into that decision,” Thatcher said. “Nobody knows how a team from the MBL would do in our league. I think next year we will have a better idea where each team belongs.”
He added, “It’s very tough.”
In volleyball, San Benito was grouped with MBL schools Watsonville, Monte Vista Christian and Seaside. Also Salinas, Notre Dame (for girls) and North Salinas will compete in the Gabilan Division.
The layout for water polo and tennis should be decided and voted upon soon, but there is no timetable for the two sports, Thatcher said.
League commissioner Tim McCarthy hoped to have the fall season approved by Dec. 6. The next meeting for the board of managers isn’t scheduled until March.
The decision to place each school in the division was based upon recent records and a projected outlook for each school in each sport, McCarthy said. Graduating seniors and junior varsity records influenced the decision of the coaches and athletic directors.
CCS meeting
In response to private schools winning the Central Coast Section football championship in four out of the five divisions, the CCS football committee discussed Wednesday forcing the private schools to compete in their own playoff bracket in the future.
The proposal came after private schools – including the 3-6-1 St. Ignatius – won the open division, D-I, D-III, D-IV titles. Only Division II champion Los Gatos hailed from a public school. The Division II bracket didn’t include a private school in its 8-team field.
The proposal was co-authored by Leland High coach Mike Carrozzo and Santa Clara’s Mark Krail.
Thatcher, who was scheduled to attend the meeting with San Benito coach Chris Cameron, thought the proposal was premature, he said.
“It depends on what the state decides to do,” he said. “We don’t want to paint ourselves in a corner.”
Next year, the state will hold regionals to reach the state title game. If the private-school division is approved, it could hurt the CCS’s chances of getting schools into the regional field, Thatcher said.
“It’s unfair for Palma, who is a Division III school, to be thrown in with De La Salle, which is a very big school,” Thatcher said.
In the past, the issue hasn’t been a problem because of schools volunteering to go up into the open division playoffs – which the Balers were forced to do this year for the first time because of the school’s qualified points.
“This year was an anomaly,” Thatcher said.
Instead, the San Benito athletic director hopes the section decides to focus more on the point system – which gives a certain number of points to each team based upon the quality of wins or losses – to reach a better playoff system.
“If you build the brackets by points, you get great games,” Thatcher said.

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