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PVL’s shift may not be the best fit

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
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With the end of the school year 2009-2010, now is an ideal time to take a look at what we have in store for 2010-2011 prep athletic scenes. The single biggest change will be the realignment of the leagues. Every five years the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section realigns the respective leagues in the region. In an attempt to maintain a competitive balance for all schools, the section looks at issues such as enrollment changes, competitive success, travel, the addition of new schools and then, after many meetings and hearings, comes up with a revision of the leagues. No league experienced as much change as the Pioneer Valley league. The league went from a seven-team league down to a six team league. El Dorado, Whitney, and Mesa Verde are moving out of the PVL. El Dorado will move into the Sierra Valley Conference, a Division IV league. The coaches and players must be elated with this move. It no longer requires the Cougars, based in downtown Placerville to drive across the canyon for every away game. Whitney will move into the Capital Athletic League, a Division III league. Mesa Verde, horribly overmatched in the PVL, will move into the Golden Empire League, a Division V league. Coming into the PVL fold will be Center and Foothill. In terms of enrollment, these two schools fit nicely into the PVL. Center, with an enrollment of 1,474 will be the largest school in the league. Foothill, enrollment 1,363, settles nicely into the middle of the league. Colfax, at 926 and dropping, will continue to be the smallest school in the league. All other schools, including Placer, are in the 1,300-student range. However, while their respective attendance numbers for both schools make them a good fit in the league, the competition and gate receipts Foothill and Center bring with them will be a huge minus. In football, both schools have a long history of underachieving. “If you’re good in football, you go to Grant,” Placer athletic director Mark Lee said. “All three schools are in the same district, and that district has an open enrollment policy.” Granted, Foothill did play Placer in the first round of the playoffs this past season, but they were routed 57-20 by the Hillmen. According to Lee, “Foothill brought fewer than 100 people to the game. Those numbers do not help our gate.” Both Center and Foothill will bring much needed competition to basketball. Center was one of the elite teams in the area last season, and has several starters returning from that team. The Cougars’ JV team was undefeated. Foothill, under the direction of coach Drew Hibbs, will always be a factor. Just as athletes who are good in football gravitate to Grant; athletes who are good in basketball gravitate to Foothill. In other sports such as volleyball, cross-country, wrestling, track, and baseball, expect Placer, Colfax, and Bear River to treat these new schools like the proverbial red-headed stepchild and lay a lickin’ on them. Placer, Colfax, Lincoln, and Bear River all share the same, one school-one community support. Center and Foothill are two schools with little community identity. All-in-all, the addition of these two schools is a minus for the PVL.