Football: NCL II to sever ties with Bay League

By TED SILLANPAA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

In an effort to make sure their football programs continue to grow, four North Central League II schools have ended their relationship with the Bay League.

Calistoga, St. Vincent, Tomales and Upper Lake merged with Bay League members Stellar Prep (Fremont), Emery (Emeryville) and California School for the Deaf (Fremont) prior to the start of the 2013 season to create the NCL II/Bay League for football. The four NCL II teams will go it alone in a four-team division next season.

“Our junior varsity teams were having trouble getting their games in from week to week. When we’re all trying to build our programs, we need our JV teams to be playing,” said Calistoga head coach Paul Harrell, who led his team to a share of the conference title with St. Vincent last season.

Emery and Stellar Prep didn’t field JV teams last fall.

“The decision was about making sure our JV teams were able to play a full schedule,” Harrell said.

Bay League schools wanted to maintain the relationship, but the NCL II schools saw problems ahead.

“If our four schools continued with shorter JV seasons, we faced losing potential players to other schools where they could play a full JV season,” Harrell said.

The NCL II season will feature a round-robin league schedule, with four nonleague games.

“It’s not ideal to play the same three league teams twice. I’ve heard players groaning about it,” Harrell said. “Then, there’s the possibility of two of our teams meeting a third time in the playoffs. But it came down to what’s best for the JV programs.”

The four schools tried to boost membership in the NCL II by inviting NCL I teams into the league. The NCL I has seven teams, so a tweak here or there could have filled out a competitive NCL II lineup.

“We thought, maybe, that we could get Cloverdale or Clear Lake or one of those teams to come into our league,” Harrell said. “They just weren’t comfortable making that move right now.”

Given that NCL III teams have moved to 8-man football, the NCL II is short of alternatives. “It looks like we’ll be a four-team league for the time being,” Harrell said.

You can reach The Press Democrat’s Ted Sillanpaa at 526-8623 or ted.sillanpaa@pressdemocrat.com.

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