Realignment looms big as 2013 nears

By: Mike Ray, Colfax Record Sports Editor
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Saying that the next four months are pivotal for the future of Colfax High School athletics might be the understatement of the New Year.

For the uninformed, we’re talking about that dreaded “Realignment” word that rears its ugly head every four years, much to the chagrin of schools, coaches, administrators and athletic followers of their favorite teams.

How big is it this time around for Colfax High? Well, you can bet that Colfax High principal Rick Spears and athletic director Rob Hitchcock have it at the top of their respective “To Do” lists.

Over the past few months, all coaches at Colfax High have been asked for input on what their ideas are regarding the future of Falcon sports. Some like the current shape of the Pioneer Valley League, some don’t. Some think it’s time for a move to a smaller league.

When classes at Colfax High resume after the Christmas break, the push will be on across the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section to shape athletic leagues that will lock schools into leagues for four years, beginning in the fall of 2014.

The current realignment process actually began back in August when the CIF office started reviewing school results forms. After meetings with leagues in October to review the result forms, the process then heats up with four meetings – which include public forums – set for Jan. 8, Jan 29, Feb. 19, March 12 and April 9, if necessary. In early April, a final proposal by the CIF will be forwarded to member schools for a vote with final approval by the Board of Managers set for April 24.

For Colfax High, at first glance anyway, the Falcons seem like a perfect fit for the PVL, a league in which the Falcons were a charter member of when it was formed back in 2003. There’s no argument that the Colfax High athletic teams have been more than competitive over the years. The travel isn’t bad. Fan bases at some schools could be better for gates but overall it seems do-able.

But a closer look at what lies ahead for Colfax High might have taken CIF officials by surprise when Spears plugged in the enrollment figure of 550 students that are expected to make up the school’s student body starting in the Fall of 2015.

Currently, the PVL is made up of Lincoln (1,507), Placer (1,346), Center (1,341), Foothill (1,185), Bear River (851) and Colfax (785). Those enrollment numbers were based on state figures from 2011 that were used for last season’s football playoffs. According to Spears, Colfax currently has 715 students enrolled.

Getting early input from schools and leagues, the CIF is currently doing some of its own “tinkering” on how they would like to see some of these future leagues shape up. According to a source close to the subject, there’s a proposal from the PVL to move out one of the schools that have had middle-of-the-road success in the so-called “big” sports but have otherwise dominated what are called the “country club” sports.

In that scenario, Mira Loma, a school of 1,638, would re-enter the PVL, a league in which it was a member from 2006-2010.

But therein lies the question. Can Colfax with a projected 550 students in two years stay competitive in a league with schools that range from 1,300 to most likely 1,700?

If you’re looking for answers for the Falcons here are some of the options:

  1. Remain in the PVL and play schools in some cases with 700 to 1,000 more students.
  2. Move to the Golden Empire League and play schools like Lindhurst (1,223), Mesa Verde (1,061) , Marysville (1,012), West Campus (894) and Capital Christian (377).
  3. Move to the Div. V Sierra Delta league that includes Highlands (905), San Juan (808), Encina (621), Golden Sierra (563), Rio Vista (372), Bradshaw Christian (304) and Vacaville Christian (125).
  4. Ask for a release to the North Section and play schools like Wheatland (734), Sutter (682), Live Oak (520), Winters (507) and Colusa (426).

Stay tuned.