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Private-school league hard to figure

04/07/2014, 10:30am PDT
By John Maffei

Not enough football teams of equal strength to form a competitive league

Cathedral Catholic fans celebrate their triple overtime win over San Pasqual after the San Pasqual vs. Cathedral Catholic in Division I high school football championship.

Private-school leagues work in the CIF Southern Section where there are more than 400 schools.

Six Southern Section leagues are almost exclusively made up of Catholic schools.

Two of those leagues - Sierra and Trinity - feature the big-time football powers like Bishop Amat and L.A. Loyola in the Serra and Santa Ana Mater Dei, Servite, Santa Margarita and Orange Lutheran in the Trinity.

Two other leagues - Del Rey and Mission - feature basketball powers like Harvard-Westlake in the Mission and Cantwell-Sacred Heart, La Salle and Bishop Montgomery in the Del Rey.

The San Diego Section has just three Catholic school powers - Cathedral Catholic, St. Augustine and Mater Dei Catholic.

Those three are good in just about every sport.

Over the years, the private schools have dominated postseason play, leading to discussions of exclusive private and public school leagues.

But how would you do that?

Cathedral, Saints and Mater Dei are in a class by themselves in football.

You need at least four teams, better yet five or six, to make a truly competitive league.

On a given year, Santa Fe Christian could compete with the big boys in a football league. The same could be said for Bishop's and Francis Parker.

Christian had a great team last season, but it was perhaps a once-in-a-decade team. The Patriots couldn't compete year after year with Cathedral, St. Augustine and Mater Dei.

So there can never be a private-school football league.

Basketball - both boys and girls - might be a different story.

Take the big three and add Bishop's, Parker and La Jolla Country Day and you could have a pretty decent private-school basketball league.

Army-Navy, Foothills Christian and last year's Calvin Christian team could be competitive.

But it would be a David vs. Goliath deal.

Santa Fe Christian and Calvary Christian-Vista have earned a reputation in baseball over the years.

Our Lady of Peace has a good girls programs in several sports. Tri-City Christian has become a small-school power in girls volleyball.

That, however, is the rub.

Outside of Cathedral, Saints and Mater Dei, every school you would pair with them in a league is under 1,000 students.

You could form leagues by strength of sport and have different leagues for different sports.

That, I believe, is a terrible idea.

Schools in the City Conference are in different leagues for different sports. The athletes aren't even sure what league they're in.

The Southern Section recently sought to move Ventura St. Bonaventure, Westlake Village Oaks Christian, La Verne Damien and Glendora St. Lucy out of public-school leagues.

St. Bonaventure and Oaks Christian are football powers, but they're on the outskirts of the Southern Section.

The idea was to move those school from leagues that made geographic sense to private-school leagues that made competitive sense. But it would be a travel nightmare.

The four schools mentioned filed suit to remain in their current leagues and won.

I've looked at the San Diego Section situation from several angles.

I just don't see a solution that makes competitive sense.


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