CSL to get new member
By Patrick Dillon
visalia – The hot place to be for the next four years seems to be the Central Sequoia League (CSL). Although it may not be so hot for teams already in it, and that goes for Exeter in particular.
With an enrollment of only 962 students Exeter will now have to battle with another 1,000 plus student school joining the CSL. Which school that will be is still up in the air.
During a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Central Section hearing at the Tulare County Office of Education Dow Center on Feb. 8, the proposed realignment handed down by the area supervisors was met with some opposition. The proposed realignment could see the Hanford West Huskies be moved from the West Yosemite League (WYL) to the CSL. The opposition it now faces is from Reedley High School in the form of a proposed adjustment that would see them join the CSL and move Hanford West up to the North Yosemite League (NYL), where Reedley is currently located.
This news is unsettling for Exeter who first became members of the CSL back in 2006.
“I don’t know how this benefits anyone but Hanford West,” said Exeter athletic director Andrew Montes.
Since joining the CSL Exeter has brought home at least nine league titles in various sports. In the 2016 season Exeter won a share of the title in volleyball with rival Central Valley Christian. That is their third title in volleyball after they won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008.
The Monarchs’ volleyball team has also finished in second place a total of eight times.
In 2015 Exeter boys water polo won their first league title, while Exeter girls water polo went undefeated on their way to a league title last season.
The Monarchs lone CSL title in football came back in 2008, when the Monarchs tied with Kingsburg and Central Valley Christian. While the Monarchs are nine years removed from their football title they have seen recent success over the last four years winning five league titles througout all sports.
And while success is one thing, being able to provide their students the chance to compete in so many sports is another. For a school Exeter’s size it is rare for students to have as many teams as they do.
“The good thing is our scope of program,” said Montes. “Our school wants to provide the most opportunity for our kids to be connected to our community.”
Some of the opportunities that Exeter provides are teams at the freshman level in various sports such as: football, and girls basketball.
All this despite being the smallest out of the four public schools that make up the six school CSL.
Now the CIF wants to pluck Hanford West, a school of 1,423 students, from the WYL and move them to the CSL. That would put them as the third largest school in the league behind, Dinuba (1,942) and Selma (1,719).
“It is the league that makes the most sense,” said Hanford West athletic director Lance Dowe.
Currently Hanford West is the smallest school in the WYL, just under one hundred students behind Mt. Whitney (1,577). As a result of Hanford Unified School District opening Sierra Pacific High School that does not seem to be changing anytime soon. Because of the opening of the new high school the district lines had to be redrawn effectively cutting into Hanford West’s enrollment numbers.
“Our enrollment continues to go down,” said Hanford West principle Darin Parson at the hearing.
While it has been eight years since the opening of Sierra Pacific High School, Hanford West’s struggles in the WYL stretch back further than that.
“We have not had sustained athletic success,” commented Principle Parson. He later made reference to one program, softball, as not having any type of sustained success.
Since 2005 Hanford West has finished in the top three spots of the WYL standings eight times, including two titles. They are one year removed from their most recent league title in 2015. That came five years after their first in 2010.
In football Hanford West’s most recent winning record came back in 2005 when they finished 8-4 overall. As a result they had their highest WYL finish, a tie for second with Redwood at 4-2.
While everyone seems to be on board with the move Reedley believes otherwise.
“Our natural fit is in the CSL and that is better than Hanford West’s not so great fit in the NYL,” argued Reedley’s athletic director Darren Minami.
Already Reedley competes against three of the current CSL teams in Dinuba, Selma, and Kingsburg on a regular basis during non-league. And it is in their non-league games where Reedley feels they have the most competitive rivalries.
Boasting a school size around 1,817 students Reedley would be the second largest school in the CSL. It seems like Reedley already has plenty of kids to choose from in order to compete in the NYL but has had limited success. The opening of Orange Cove High School in 2005 has taken some of the enrollment away from Reedley. So athletes that would instead compete for Reedley now compete for Orange Cove.
“We are definitely a different school since Orange Cove opened and from the outside looking in it may not be so obvious,” said athletic director Minami.
Still since 2010 their overall records in most athletics have been in decline. In football Reedley has had three winning records. Boys and girls basketball combined for one winning record. While both baseball and softball have had five winning records each.
Eventually one of these two schools will be joining the CSL which will cause some adjustments on everyone’s part.
Moving from six to seven teams in the CSL, scheduling becomes one of the biggest issues. In all sports the schools will have to give up non-league matchups in order to compensate for the additional team.
Also, with seven teams that means league competition for winter sports will have to begin before winter break. That is something that Hanford West is accustomed to coming from the WYL which had seven teams before this realignment. However, the rest of the CSL, and Reedley, have not had to deal with an early league schedule.
Traveling is another ripple effect that CSL schools will have to deal with. If Hanford West joins then Dinuba and Immanuel will have to travel 40 and 42 minutes, respectively, one way for road league games. On the other hand if Reedley is selected to join then Exeter will have the longest travel time as they will have to trek 45 minutes one way to play Reedley in away games. That only compounds the trip they already have to make in order to play Immanuel Academy.
In spite of everything the addition of either Hanford West or Reedley might bring bigger ticket sales for games. Most teams around the CSL are notorious for traveling to away sporting events. On the other hand the Fresno schools that make up the NYL and many of the WYL schools might not be so generous.
“It is going to cause some changes that I don’t think we know what they are until they happen,” said Montes.
Meanwhile the WYL must be eagerly awaiting the departure of Hanford West next season. That will bring their total amount of teams down to six. Schools such as Golden West will now have a free spot to fill during non-league action. Also, they no longer have to worry about beginning league play before Christmas vacation for winter sports.
The process to realign the leagues is still going on and will for the next couple months. The area supervisors will now take this new information of any proposed adjustment and meet. They will either decide to keep the proposal the same or adopt the adjustment. The goal of those final proposed realignments will be that all the leagues around the section will be better suited for equal competition.
“At this point it is in the hands of the area supervisors and we will go from there,” said Montes.
The first reading of all the realigned leagues will be on Tuesday, March 7, at the Porterville Memorial Building beginning at 9:30 a.m. During that meeting if a team, who is directly affected by a final proposed realignment, is not satisfied then they can appeal.
Those appeals will be handled by the CIF Commissioner prior to the April 4 voting.