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Foothill League to depart from Northern Division

Big changes in store for Foothill football teams in the postseason

Posted: May 20, 2014 12:06 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2014 12:06 p.m.

Foothill League football teams can say goodbye to the Northern Division.

The CIF-Southern Section announced its biannual playoff divisional groupings for all sports on Tuesday, and the biggest change for the Foothill League was the movement of football out of the Northern Division and into the new West Valley Division for the next two seasons.

The only other substantial change for the Foothill League was the movement of boys volleyball from Division I back to Division II, where it was for a decade before moving up two years ago.

The move for football means that come playoff time, Foothill teams will be playing against schools from the Baseline League, South Coast League, Southwestern League and Sunset League. Those leagues draw from various parts of Orange County as well as San Bernardino County and Riverside County.

Some of the top-rated teams in the newly formed division, according to, include Rancho Cucamonga (Baseline), Mission Viejo (South Coast), Tesoro (South Coast), Vista Murrieta (Southwestern) and Huntington Beach (Sunset), along with Hart, Valencia and Canyon.

The move appears to be a substantial upward move in terms of competition.

“We’re a victim of our own success in our own (division) because we were a strong league,” said Hart football head coach Mike Herrington, who is a member of the CIF-SS Coaches Advisory Committee. “I think our league has had some success but we didn’t dominate the Northern Division.”

The Foothill League has been a member of the Northern Division since 2006, when the Southern Section restructured and changed from numerical divisions to regional names.

In eight seasons, Foothill teams won a total of two Northern Division titles — Canyon in 2006 and Hart’s win over Valencia in last year’s final.

Now, the path back to a championship game just became a lot more difficult.

“It’s going to be a very tough road for the league schools to get to the championship game, but you have to rise to the occasion,” Herrington said.

Last season, three of the four semifinal spots in the division were occupied by Foothill teams, as Saugus lost to Valencia in the semifinals.

As a result, the CIF saw it fit to move the league up a notch. The South Coast League was previously in the Southern Section’s Pac-5 Division, which is considered the top grouping in the section.

The Baseline and Southwestern leagues come from the Inland Division, which was widely considered the second-most powerful. The Northern Division was considered Division III.

The CIF-SS says it structures the divisions based on geography, school enrollment and competitive equity.

“Obviously I think we’ve definitely been placed in a an upper division, which is going to be a challenge,” said Canyon football head coach Rich Gutierrez. He then added: “There’s two sides to see it. Obviously you have the negatives with the (amount of travel time), but the positives are you have some great teams you get to compete against.”

Another change on Tuesday was the abolishment of the Northeast Division, which was the home for Santa Clarita Christian’s 11-man football team the last two years.

SCCS’s San Joaquin League is now part of the East Valley Division.

SCCS head football coach Garrick Moss said it’s not a drastic change.

“I think we’re not too concerned,” Moss said. “It’s not like getting thrown into the Pac-5 or something like that. It’s still small schools, at least based on enrollment.”

Any league in the division has until Friday to formally appeal their placement.


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