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OK…the CIF Central Section got it right.

Slightly right, that is.

I figured there were going to be some early hiccups in the year of transition to the section for the 805 area teams. But when the new divisions were announced on Thursday, I agreed with most of the realignment.

Yet, I still noticed some head scratchers.

Let me start with what I believe the section office in Porterville got right:

St. Joseph never belonged in Division I

I said before the 2018-19 season that the Knights simply weren’t built for the DI rigors – not with state behemoths Fresno Central, Clovis Buchanan, Bakersfield High and Bakersfield Liberty in that glutted division plus with the Knights undergoing a coaching transition and younger group. I’ve seen how loaded that division is during my Central Valley years.

And the Knights were the lone private school team in DI.

Even though St. Joseph breezed to an 8-2 mark, they were clearly worn out and overmatched by experienced DI playoff veteran Fresno Bullard in the Knights’ first-ever Central Section playoff football game.

Now the Knights were demoted to Division 2 – and I actually have no issue with it.

They will join fellow Catholic schools Garces Memorial and San Joaquin Memorial (who I believe should be Division I with the Panthers’ Pac-12-like roster) in this realm. Foster Road rival Righetti also remains in the division fresh off of their D2 title game appearance.

I also agree that Atascadero, winless one season ago, can rejuvenate itself by becoming a D2 member.

But here’s what I don’t agree with…

Nipomo High still planted in D2  

Hate to play the enrollment card especially in this current CIF model, but the Titans simply don’t have the numbers to withstand the likes of Tulare Union, Tulare Western, Dinuba, Hanford, Fresno Sunnyside and the team that eliminated them last season in the first round of the playoffs Bakersfield Frontier, who remained in D2.

I’m not the only who believes this, as I’ve talked to several people in Nipomo who have grumbled about a school with not even 900 kids going against schools that surpass the four-digit mark in enrollment.

Nipomo, too me, is more suited for at least D4 with Morro Bay or D5 with fellow small schools Fowler, Arvin, Mendota (which has a near similar enrollment to NHS) and small schools state power Strathmore.

Mission Prep is in the right division

It only makes sense that a program that wore teams down with eight men on the field last season will start from ground zero in the 11-man realm: Division 6.

The Royals are in the most congested division – with 24 teams filling that arena.

But at least the Royals won’t have to deal with the aforementioned Strathmore Spartans, the reigning division champ.

Orange Cove – 10-2 last season but lost head coach Tony Gates to neighboring Reedley High – and Hanford Sierra Pacific – the division title game runner-up – still remain in D6.

However, 11 teams in D6 finished below .500 last year; four of them finishing either 1-9 or 0-10. The Royals could have a rather painless transition to the 11-man Central Section field.

Why the four-team leagues?

The second and last thing I don’t agree with: Three league contests for the 805 representatives.

That really means – everyone has to hope they can get seven non-league games, plus hope they don’t get turned down.

The PAC-4 is the newcomer league but features traditional rivals Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande, St. Joseph and Righetti. Mission Prep has remixed the Ocean League with Templeton, Morro Bay and Santa Maria. The new Mountain League has three San Luis Obispo County representatives (SLO High, AHS and NHS) and Pioneer Valley.

I feel like I’m looking at Ventura County with this model – as that area I’ve seen has years when the Camino and Marmonte Leagues go four-teams deep. 

Maybe, three leagues become two down the road for the CS 805 representatives.

Overall, the CIF got a number of things right and a number of things wrong. But we know this model will soon change in another two or three years.

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Lorenzo J. Reyna covers sports and news for Lee Central Coast Newspapers, particularly in the Lompoc Valley. He can be reached at lreyna@leecentralcoastnews.com

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