A change to the postseason formatting was made by the CIF Southern Section office, which released its 2014-2106 playoff groupings Tuesday. Each of the eight local schools were affected in either the make-up of their league or respective division. Track and field, basketball and cross-country, which change their playoff seedings annually, were not involved.
The league only changed divisions in four sports, but perhaps the biggest move came in football, where the league stood pat.
The Pacific League, which is made up of locals Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover highs along with Arcadia, Burbank, Burroughs, Muir and Pasadena, competes in the Southeast Division (Division VII), which swapped out the Hacienda League in favor of the renovated Mission League, which consists of St. Francis, Cathedral, Harvard-Westlake, Salesian, La Salle and St. Paul.
The Mission League, which participated in the Western Division (Division IV) last season, will join a Southeast Division (Division VII) already with the Del Rio, San Gabriel Valley and Suburban leagues.
“I’m a little surprised in football that St. Francis and the Mission League are going to be in that division,” Glendale High athletic director Pat Lancaster said. “Coming off their year last year, I would have thought they’d be heading to a higher group, but that’s the way it happens.”
The decision to bring in the Mission League also didn’t sit well with Burroughs Coach Keith Knoop.
“I would have definitely not liked to have seen the Mission League in our division,” Knoop said. “With the Hacienda League leaving, I don’t know about the Mission League. We’re playing schools that give scholarships to top players.
“Also, if you look at Crescenta Valley, they went 8-2 last year and missed the playoffs because they were told that our league was too weak. So, what happens, we get the Hacienda League swapped with the Mission League. Does that make sense?”
Knoop said the league would not appeal the decision despite the general disappointment.
St. Francis is coming off a 10-3 season and advancement to the Western Division (Division IV) semifinals in 2013.
While the Golden Knights did not face a Pacific League opponent last year, St. Francis has proven a Pacific League tormentor the last five years in compiling a 10-0 record with victories over Arcadia, Burroughs and Crescenta Valley.
As for other sports, the Pacific League is being bumped up from Division V to Division IV in both boys’ and girls’ water polo, likely due to the Crescenta Valley girls winning a 2013 divisional title and the Glendale boys taking the crown in the fall.
“I really think that Glendale, Hoover and Crescenta Valley have had some really strong seasons over the last five years and they’re strong enough to succeed at the next level,” said Glendale outgoing water polo coach Forest Holbrook, who announced he was stepping down Wednesday. “When I got here five years ago, the Pacific League was in Division VI and we’ve moved up. This is just the next step.”
There were also some moves down, as Pacific League boys’ tennis and girls’ soccer dropped one division to Divisions II and IV, respectively.
“It’s a relief that boys’ tennis has dropped to Division II,” Lancaster said. “That just seems more fair. As for the moves, it’s just the nature of the beast. It happens with CIF every year and CIF can’t please everyone.”
The Pacific League remained in Division II-A in girls’ volleyball, in Division II in baseball, swimming, girls’ tennis and boys’ volleyball and in Division III in boys’ soccer and softball.
If there was a beneficiary of change, at least on the football side, perhaps it’s St. Francis football.
Two weeks earlier, St. Francis avoided a potential four-year dagger in not joining the Pac-5 Division (Division I) in football and remaining in the Mission League, which also shed its top two teams, Chaminade and Serra, in favor of La Salle and Salesian.