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CIF approves North County Conference realignment

The CIF Board of Managers unanimously approved the realignment of

the North County Conference athletic leagues.

The April 27 Board of Managers vote creates a fourth North County Conference league, retaining the Palomar League and Valley League names while utilizing an Avocado West League and an Avocado East League. Fallbrook High School, which is currently in the Avocado League, will be in the Avocado East League for all sports which will have at least three North County Conference leagues.

The league changes will take effect for the 2010-11 seasons.

“I’m excited to have this new league,” said Fallbrook High School athletic director Patrick Walker.

The North County Conference will have 20 teams playing varsity football in 2010 and 23 teams competing in cross-country, tennis, golf, basketball, soccer, wrestling, baseball, softball, track and field, and girls volleyball.

The conference will also have 23 teams in girls water polo and girls swimming for 2010-11, adding Santa Fe Christian to the conference for those sports while deferring Mission Vista varsity competition until 2011-12, and 24 schools for boys water polo and boys swimming with Army-Navy joining Santa Fe Christian for boys aquatics.

Field hockey and boys volleyball will have 19 teams in three leagues, girls lacrosse will have 14 teams in two leagues, boys lacrosse will have 12 teams in two leagues, and gymnastics will have seven teams in two leagues.

The North County Conference considers realignment every two years. In the absence of new schools, the realignment criteria are often based on factors such as geography and school size. The previous North County Conference realignment was approved in 2008 and took effect for the 2008-09 seasons.

Between the time Mission Hills began CIF participation for the 2004-05 seasons and the 2009 openings of Del Norte and Mission Vista, the North County Conference had 19 schools.

The need to find a league for schools whose league doesn’t contest specific sports led to the placement of Santa Fe Christian in the Avocado West League for aquatics while placing the all-boys Army-Navy Academy in the Valley League for boys

water polo and boys swimming.

The six-person North County Conference realignment committee sent surveys to principals and athletic directors asking them to provide the most important criteria for the new league alignments as well as the priorities for those criteria. The most important

criteria used for the realignment was geographic proximity, which also includes traditional rivalries and budget considerations.

The second most important criteria was school size while the third criteria considered was competitive equity. The committee returned the proposed new league alignments to the full North County Conference for a vote.

Fallbrook will be joined in the Avocado East League for football by Escondido, Mission Hills, Vista and San Pasqual. San Marcos will join the Avocado East League for all other four-league sports and for field hockey.

“I’m excited that we still have the rival Vista. I think that’s important,” Walker said. “Having that rivalry will be great.”

For boys volleyball the Avocado East League will consist of Carlsbad, El Camino, Escondido, Fallbrook, La Costa Canyon, Mission Hills and San Pasqual. For girls lacrosse Fallbrook will be in the Avocado West League with Carlsbad, Mission Hills, Mission Vista, San Dieguito Academy, San Marcos, and Torrey Pines.

The Avocado West League for boys lacrosse will also include Carlsbad, La Costa Canyon, San Dieguito Academy, San Marcos and Torrey Pines.

The City Conference no longer has gymnastics, so Our Lady of Peace will join Fallbrook, La Costa Canyon and Mount Carmel in that sport’s Avocado West League.

“It still will be a very competitive league,” Walker said.

The Avocado West League opponents in the four-league sports are all along the State Route 78 corridor.

“It’s not a bad drive,” Walker said.

The current Avocado League includes Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon.

“Not having to drive down to Torrey and LCC will help us financially with transportation,” Walker said.

Non-league competition will still pit the Warriors against the Falcons and Mavericks.

“We’re going to have those non-league contests,” Walker said.

The Avocado West League will consist of Carlsbad, El Camino, La Costa Canyon, Oceanside and Rancho Buena Vista for all four-league sports other than the aquatic leagues which will also include Santa Fe Christian.

Poway, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, Torrey Pines and Westview will play football in the Palomar League while Rancho Bernardo will be added for the other four-league sports and for boys volleyball.

The Valley League will consist of Del Norte, Mount Carmel, Orange Glen, San Marcos, and Valley Center for football and Canyon Crest, Del Norte, Mission Vista, Orange Glen, San Dieguito Academy and Valley Center for the other non-aquatic four-league sports.

Although only games against league opponents will count in the league standings, each football team will also play three cross-league games. The cross-league games are an effort to reconcile rivalries with other considerations which led rivals to be placed

in different leagues, although a school can opt out of a game against one of those opponents by mutual consent if health and safety concerns are evident. The number of cross-league games in other sports will be based on total number of games allowed in

those sports.

The North County Conference expanded to three leagues in 1998, when Valley Center High School opened and became the conference’s 17th team. Fallbrook was moved from the Palomar League to the Avocado League during that 1998 realignment and had been in the Avocado League since then. Westview became the conference’s 18th

team when it opened in 2002.

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