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The titans of the PVL

Placer, Colfax rivalry has developed fiercely, quickly
By: Dave Krizman Guest Columnist
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A little over four years ago, the Sac Joaquin Section CIF announced their new league realignment. The Sac Joaquin Section realigns teams and leagues based on a number of criteria, including geographical considerations, competitiveness within league, and enrollment trends. With the new realignment came the news that Placer High, longtime member of the Sierra Foothill League, would be moved to the Pioneer Valley League. For longtime Hillmen fans this came as quite a shock. Placer was being moved out of a league that they had been in for years. They were moving down from a Division II league to essentially a Division IV league. They would no longer play rival Del Oro in any sports. Even the coaches at Placer were torn with the new move. Some programs such as track and tennis saw this as a disaster. Yearly contenders for section titles, these programs saw no challenge in the new PVL. Other programs such as football and basketball saw a chance to be more competitive. Four years later, as the school year ends, Placer’s move to the PVL must be considered a stroke of genius. This success is based on the rivalry that has quickly formed between Placer and Colfax these past three years. Creating a rivalry requires three key ingredients: geographical proximity, athletic cross-pollination, and games impacting league titles. The Colfax vs. Placer rivalry immediately had all three. The two schools are separated by a mere 20 miles up Interstate-80. Both are the only high schools in town so all eyes are on their respective schools. Athletes from both communities play against one another at an early age. By middle school they have played one another in soccer, youth basketball, club basketball, and club volleyball. It is not unusual for players from Colfax and Placer to have played on the same AAU teams. The first athletic meeting between Colfax and Placer took place at Colfax for a girls’ volleyball game on a weekday night. The gym was packed, the crowds were large and the athletes responded as though it was a playoff game. It was a sign of the times to come. Initiated two years ago, the PVL created the PVL All-Sports Award. This award is based on awarding a point value to each team, boys and girls, for their finish in their respective sport. A first place finish in the sport is allocated seven points, a second place finish is awarded six points, etc. For the past two years, Placer has won the title with Colfax a close second. As expected, Placer has dominated in tennis, track, cross country, baseball, and girls’ volleyball. Colfax has dominated in boys’ basketball and football. Colfax has won five of the six boys’ basketball games by an average margin of 7.5 points per game, and won two of the three football games. In the first two meetings of the football teams, Colfax held Placer scoreless. Placer must win more ‘high profile’ games. However, the one constant in life is change, and change is on the horizon for both schools. At Colfax, Ron Pucci has stepped down as head boys’ basketball coach to be replaced by Mike O’Connell. Jason Stowers, longtime defensive coordinator for the varsity football team, is the new head coach for the JV, replacing Rob Hitchcock. At Placer, Joey Montoya finally has a coaching staff that can go toe-to-toe with Martello’s gang at Colfax, and is itching to show that last year’s win was no fluke. Mark Lee, boys’ basketball coach, will introduce a new and exciting approach to the game this coming winter. After three years, I call it a draw between these two titans of the PVL. Let’s wait one more year, the ‘fourth quarter’, so to speak, before making a final decision on who is the ‘beast’ of the foothills.