Sports

Football merger in the works between PAL and SCVAL

A merger would make it possible for teams like Menlo-Atherton and Los Gatos to play every year. Photo taken Oct. 29, 2021 by Joe Giarrusso.

Momentum is building to have a football-only merger take place between the 18-team Peninsula Athletic League and the 14-team Santa Clara Valley Athletic League by the fall of 2022.

"People are recognizing this merger is not a want-to, this is a need-to,'' Aragon football coach and athletic director Steve Sell said. "We can't wait until 2023. This is urgent.''

Football coaches in both leagues are all on board supporting a merger. They agree it needs to take place for several reasons, the biggest being the need to put together a fair and equitable 'C' division to help programs that are teetering on the brink of dropping football.

With fewer kids turning out for football, Monta Vista and Saratoga from the SCVAL El Camino Division both had to forfeit games late in the season due to a lack of available players. In the PAL, only five teams competed in the Lake Division this past season after South San Francisco, a one-time football power in North San Mateo County, had to shut down its varsity program. Those five teams remaining in the Lake included Mills, which did not compete during the previous spring season and went 0-8 after returning to action in the fall.

"If a team gets placed with teams they don't belong with, kids will say thanks, but no thanks,'' Sell said. "We're putting all our cards on the table about giving every team a schedule that will motivate kids to play.''

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"I want my C teams taken care of,'' SCVAL commissioner Brad Metheany said. "I don't want my A teams having to travel to Timbuktu to get games because nobody wants to play them. For public schools, travel is real expensive. And I don't want to have my Bs asked to move up when they can't do it.''

The Board of Managers of both leagues would need to give their approval as would the Central Coast Section, with the SCVAL being in the section's Central Conference and the PAL being in the Northern Conference one of the complications.

At first glance, the logical breakdown for a 32-team league would be to have four eight-team divisions — one A division, two Bs and one C. An eight-team A division composed of the best teams from both leagues would be interesting with, for example, 2021 Bay Division champion Menlo-Atherton and 2021 De Anza Division champion Los Gatos in the same division. It would also help avoid a problem that currently exists of not having enough teams in one league that can play competitively in an A division.

However, some coaches expecting to be part of an eight-team A division have expressed reservations regarding the CCS rule that a maximum of six teams from any one division be allowed to take part in the playoffs. So an alternate divisional structure has been proposed to include two six-team A divisions with four automatic qualifiers from each, two six-team B divisions with two auto qualifiers each, and one eight-team C division with one auto qualifier.That would add up to 13 teams automatically qualifying for the CCS playoffs, the same number the two leagues combined have now, seven from the PAL, six from the SCVAL.

The merging of the two leagues has been under discussion for several years. Sell, who is also president of the CCS and thus familiar with its bylaws, said the best way to go about the merger would be for the SCVAL teams to become supplemental members of the PAL for football.

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Metheany has some reservations about that course of action.

"We would need some assurances to do that,'' he said. "We still have scar tissue because they backed out twice before.''

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Football merger in the works between PAL and SCVAL

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Tue, Nov 30, 2021, 12:26 pm

Momentum is building to have a football-only merger take place between the 18-team Peninsula Athletic League and the 14-team Santa Clara Valley Athletic League by the fall of 2022.

"People are recognizing this merger is not a want-to, this is a need-to,'' Aragon football coach and athletic director Steve Sell said. "We can't wait until 2023. This is urgent.''

Football coaches in both leagues are all on board supporting a merger. They agree it needs to take place for several reasons, the biggest being the need to put together a fair and equitable 'C' division to help programs that are teetering on the brink of dropping football.

With fewer kids turning out for football, Monta Vista and Saratoga from the SCVAL El Camino Division both had to forfeit games late in the season due to a lack of available players. In the PAL, only five teams competed in the Lake Division this past season after South San Francisco, a one-time football power in North San Mateo County, had to shut down its varsity program. Those five teams remaining in the Lake included Mills, which did not compete during the previous spring season and went 0-8 after returning to action in the fall.

"If a team gets placed with teams they don't belong with, kids will say thanks, but no thanks,'' Sell said. "We're putting all our cards on the table about giving every team a schedule that will motivate kids to play.''

"I want my C teams taken care of,'' SCVAL commissioner Brad Metheany said. "I don't want my A teams having to travel to Timbuktu to get games because nobody wants to play them. For public schools, travel is real expensive. And I don't want to have my Bs asked to move up when they can't do it.''

The Board of Managers of both leagues would need to give their approval as would the Central Coast Section, with the SCVAL being in the section's Central Conference and the PAL being in the Northern Conference one of the complications.

At first glance, the logical breakdown for a 32-team league would be to have four eight-team divisions — one A division, two Bs and one C. An eight-team A division composed of the best teams from both leagues would be interesting with, for example, 2021 Bay Division champion Menlo-Atherton and 2021 De Anza Division champion Los Gatos in the same division. It would also help avoid a problem that currently exists of not having enough teams in one league that can play competitively in an A division.

However, some coaches expecting to be part of an eight-team A division have expressed reservations regarding the CCS rule that a maximum of six teams from any one division be allowed to take part in the playoffs. So an alternate divisional structure has been proposed to include two six-team A divisions with four automatic qualifiers from each, two six-team B divisions with two auto qualifiers each, and one eight-team C division with one auto qualifier.That would add up to 13 teams automatically qualifying for the CCS playoffs, the same number the two leagues combined have now, seven from the PAL, six from the SCVAL.

The merging of the two leagues has been under discussion for several years. Sell, who is also president of the CCS and thus familiar with its bylaws, said the best way to go about the merger would be for the SCVAL teams to become supplemental members of the PAL for football.

Metheany has some reservations about that course of action.

"We would need some assurances to do that,'' he said. "We still have scar tissue because they backed out twice before.''

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