A shakeup in the CIF-Southern Section northern area high school sports league setup will tweak which teams face off against each other in league action over the next four years.
Northern area “re-leaguing” was announced Monday by the Southern Section for the years 2014 through 2018, with several changes for local schools.
Five teams will make up the new Northern League in football only — Mission Prep, Morro Bay, Nipomo, Santa Maria and Templeton.
Five other teams will make up the new PAC 5 in football only — Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Paso Robles, Righetti and San Luis Obispo.
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The Los Padres League will remain the same for non-football sports, except for the addition of Orcutt Academy to the league this year.
Mission Prep will join the PAC 7 in all non-football sports. The league will have eight teams now, including the same seven that competed in the league last year.
The league name may be changed to the PAC 8, according to some local school officials, though it was announced as PAC 7 in a Southern Section news release.
“Mission Prep voluntarily pursued involvement in the CIF area re-leaguing process and remains grateful for the opportunity this has presented to us to have an active voice in the outcome,” Royals athletic director Bailey Brown said in a text message. “We will continue to participate in this process, seeking the best situation for our school and our students.”
Brown said she couldn’t comment further on the change. The Royals had been competing as a freelance team in recent years.
For Mission Prep’s football program, the opportunity for a postseason berth could be a little easier since the Royals were passed over for a postseason selection two years ago as a freelance team despite going 8-2.
The Royals, however, finished runner-up last year in the Southern Section Northeast Division after losing just one game in the regular season to Bishop Diego, ending with an 11-2 record.
For football teams such as Morro Bay and Templeton, the chance of winning a league title has increased now that perennial power Lompoc is in the newly formed football-only Los Padres League.
The new football-only LPL consists of Cabrillo, Pioneer Valley, St. Joseph, Santa Ynez and Lompoc. The Braves went undefeated in the LPL the past two years.
Morro Bay and Templeton were the respective second- and third-place teams in football in the league last year, but each lost by more than 30 points against Lompoc.
Morro Bay football coach Jack Greer said he’s pleased with the opportunity for his team to play a league schedule that offers parity and geographical proximity for games.
“I do like the reformat of similar-size schools playing each other in the new (Northern) league and staying centralized,” Greer said. “I would also like to see parity and similar competition as much as possible for non-league games as well, given the emphasis on local scheduling for non-league games.”
Templeton football coach Dan Loney said Monday that he sees “a lot of pluses” in the new format, too.