CSL and ESL get new members in league realignment
By Patrick Dillon
porterville – Finally, after months of deliberation the Central Section of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) have finalized the new leagues. As a result some teams were moved to better provide competitive equality. Around the Central Section there were some teams moved, most notably the Hanford West Huskies went from the West Yosemite League (WYL) to the Central Sequoia League (CSL), with the Exeter Monarchs. And the Farmersville Aztecs moved from the East Sierra League (ESiL) to a league much closer to home in the East Sequoia League (ESL). However, schools won’t see these changes until the fall of 2018.
Huskies join Monarchs in the CSL
The biggest move around the local area was the addition of the Hanford West Huskies to the Central Sequoia League (CSL). Hanford West will immediately become one of the highest enrolled schools with 1,423 students. That puts the Huskies third in the CSL behind Dinuba with 1,942 and Selma with 1,719. And while Hanford might add a competitive edge to the league, teams like Exeter will undoubedly have their hands full.
The Exeter Monarchs, are still the smallest public school in the league at 962 students, and because of their size Exeter may have a tough time adapting to a third 1000 plus student school.
“I just want to believe that people have the best intentions,” said Exeter Athletic Director Andrew Montes. “While the benefits of the move are not obvious to me, Hanford West does have a full scope of program.”
Fielding some of the bigger varsity teams in sports such as; football, basketball and softball has never been an issue for the CSL. But it has been problematic to find teams to fill the less popular sports. For example, Immanuel and Central Valley Christian do not have water polo teams. And Immanuel has only one boy swimmer competing for the school.
While Hanford West does have a full scope of programs being the seventh team does create some scheduling difficulties. First, CSL teams will more than likely have to use their bye weeks in league competition. But for winter sports such as, basketball and soccer, having bye weeks in league is a guarantee. With an odd number of teams now in the league that means there will be a team left out in the 12 games that have to be played. The league will have to add to its dates causing the CSL to begin league play before winter break.
Although, this is something that Hanford West is already accustomed to, as the WYL has seven schools. But since joining the WYL in 2004 and competing against highly touted schools like Lemoore, Redwood and El Diamante, the Huskies record in many sports leaves much to be desired.
The Huskies are most successful in softball having won league titles in 2010 and then again in 2015. But the Huskies have recorded second place finishes in 2006, ‘11, ‘12 and ‘14. Along with two third place finishes in 2005 and ‘09.
While impressive as that may seem the Huskies never won a WYL title in football. Their highest finish came in 2005 when they tied the Redwood Rangers for second at 4-2.
The Huskies exit leaves six team in the WYL creating potential opportunities for schools like Golden West.
“It’s sad to see Hanford West go because we’ve had a relationship with those people and enjoyed working with them,” said Golden West Athletic Director John Delong. “But being in a six team league it definitely helps, especially in winter sports.”
Ever since the WYL became a seven team league the teams were forced to begin league competition sooner than most. Not to mention having to give up a possible non-league game or tournament.
Now the Blazers are looking to fill these open sports with new competition. As of now Golden West has signed a home and away agreement with Nipomo High School Titans in football for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. As well, other high schools around Visalia have been searching for new competition along the coast.
Over the next year there are more than enough kinks to be worked out between the CSL and their newest member. Traveling, scheduling, and students missing academics just to name a few. But when the time comes for this new league to start the competition will be the same as it always has.
“The CIF is doing what they think is best for all schools, just not Exeter Union,” said Montes.
Central Sequoia League (as of 2018)
Central Valley Christian
Dinuba High School
Exeter Union High School
Hanford West High School
Kingsburg High School
Selma High School
Farmersville moves closer to home
After years of filling non-league games with schools from the ESL the Farmersville Aztecs will now call that league home. In football alone during the 2016 season the Aztecs played four ESL schools and have played no less than two in non-league going all the way back to the 2008 season. Not to mention schools from the ESL are a common sight on the Aztecs non-league schedules in many other sports as well. The move from the East Sierra League (ESiL) to the ESL will almost seem like a homecoming for the Aztecs.
“I think we are all for this move,” said Farmersville High School Athletic Director Dan Swaggerty. “It’s a natural rivalry. We already play most of those teams.”
Four of the six teams that already make up the ESL are located in Tulare County. Adding Farmersville to the league makes sense because of the short travel time for the majority of league games. The longest the Aztecs will have to travel now is a 40 minute bus ride to Granite Hills High School in Porterville. Which is better than the 51 minutes of travel to McFarland.
While the travel time may have been reduced for the Aztecs being in the middle of the pack as far as school size did not. Farmersville has a total student enrollment of 737. In the Aztecs current league of the ESiL they rank third in largest school. Orosi High School is the largest with 959 students enrolled. Now Farmersville will share the spot of fourth largest school with Woodlake, who also comes in at an enrollment of 737. But the school that the Aztecs will have to travel furthest to is also the largest in Granite Hills High School with an enrollment of 1,094 students.
While the travel time has been reduced and still being one of the medium size schools the Aztecs will lack in one aspect, the number of sports that they provided.
Without a pool at Farmersville High School the Aztecs will not be able to field any aquatics teams. Farmersville will also miss out on sports like golf and tennis.
But in the sports that the Aztecs do provide there are already established rivalries between themselves and schools in the ESL. Like the one between the Aztecs and the Strathmore Spartans in football. From 2010 until 2013 these two teams played each other. Over four years the Aztecs boasted a record of 3-1. In 2013 the Aztecs defeated the Spartans 47-35 to win the D-VI Valley Championship.
“It’s always been a natural rivalry,” said Strathmore football head coach Jeromy Blackwell. “The more rivalry we put in players the harder they are going to play.”
Then in the sport of soccer both the Aztecs and the Lindsay Cardinals face off for the Champions Cup. The hope of both Farmersville is that the cup will continue to be part of the rivalry. If the cup is continued it will be incorporated into the league matchups between Farmersville and Lindsay.
While everything seems to be pointing toward a great fit for the Aztecs in the ESL the addition of a seventh team does provide some scheduling issues. One is having a bye week during league competition for the majority of sports.
“It is going to be a little challenging but we are already working out scenarios,” said Woodlake Athletic Director Jose Palomo.
Also, making the move from the ESiL in only two sports will be Summit Charter Collegiate Academy from Porterville. The Bears will only be competing in the ESL for soccer and cross country. So in those two sports there will be eight teams, which will further complicate the scheduling for those sports.
East Sequoia League (as of 2018)
Summit Charter Collegiate Academy*
*only joining in cross country and soccer