The North Coast Section will have an early December meeting about realignment for its current leagues, with the East Bay Athletic League almost certainly to be affected.
How exactly remains to be seen but it does figure to see Clayton Valley no longer in the league for football starting with the 2024-25 school year. And the way Eagles have been taking care of business in the EBAL, few will appear to miss them.
One argument that seems to be mentioned more than others when it comes to realignment has to do with transportation.
First, with gas going through the roof and transportation companies forced to raise their rental prices it is an extremely valid point.
Second, the time it takes to get around the East Bay, especially on Friday afternoons, means keeping the schools as close together as possible in their respective leagues is just common sense.
The freshman and JV teams are having to get out of school earlier each year and working parents are often taxed to get to road games.
In going through the six different conferences that make up NCS, as well as the non-league affiliate members, there really seems to be only one conference that needs some reconfiguring.
The Valley Conference that is made up of the BVAL, EBAL and DAL looks to need a little restructuring to fall into line.
Looking at the schools and the current league alignments, there seems to be one sensible solution. Here is how I see the leagues aligned to make the most sense.
Bay Valley Athletic League: Antioch, Deer Valley, Freedom, Heritage, Liberty, Pittsburg, De La Salle/Carondelet, Clayton Valley.
East Bay Athletic League: Amador Valley, California, Dougherty Valley, Dublin, Foothill, Granada, Livermore, Monte Vista, San Ramon Valley. Emerald (a new high school in Dublin set to open in 2024) would fill in to
make it 10 schools.
Diablo Athletic League: Acalanes, Alhambra, Benicia, Berean Christian, Campolindo, College Park, Concord, Las Lomas, Miramonte, Mt. Diablo, Northgate, Ygnacio Valley.
It honestly is that simple and accomplishes all the goals that NCS should be searching for when setting up the leagues. Geographic locations, along with competitive balance seems taken care of with these three leagues.
De La Salle/Carondelet were in the BVAL before coming to the EBAL, and were placed in the EBAL after BVAL members schools were asking to get the Spartans out of the league.
At the time it made sense as the EBAL has always been one of the top athletic leagues in Northern California, and the league seemed best equipped to bring in the private schools.
Now, while still in the conversation, the EBAL has faced changing numbers and demographics.
If you are looking at football this year, Pittsburg, Heritage, Liberty and Clayton Valley have all shown to be as good as the EBAL teams if not better, with Clayton Valley finishing as the top team in the Mountain division of the EBAL for the second straight season.
Keeping in mind the concerns relating to transportation this makes it even more logical of a move. It also keeps the natural rivalries alive.
Pitt and De La Salle have had some legendary football games over the years, and we would get those games again.
The EBAL would bring back the battle for Pleasanton, Danville, Livermore and San Ramon into vogue, with the initial battle of Dublin eventually coming into play.
The DAL would feature divisions formed geographically to keep the travel costs down as well.
In terms of competitive balance, there is no chance to make it perfect unless leagues were going determined individually by sport.
Having a different league for every section sport is ridiculous and not practical. There are going to schools that are better at football, with others sending out consistently better teams in basketball, baseball, or softball. It's what happens.
It makes perfect sense across the board to move into this direction, but it is highly unlikely to ever see it come to fruition.
There will be reasons given for the next realignment, but chances are there are holes that can be found. In the end it seems if you preach competitive equity and sensible transportation costs, then act on it.