While compiling the all-time football scores archive earlier this month for Justin-Siena High of Napa, it was fascinating to see what happened after the school jumped from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section to the CIF North Coast Section.
According to football head coach Rich Cotruvo, who has been at the school since 1997, the Braves switched prior to the 2000-01 school year because of travel concerns in a new league realignment. Since the move, the school has won six NCS Division IV football titles, including last season, and has been runner-up twice.
Similar moves are rare in Northern California compared to Southern California, but it got me thinking about schools in the north in which a move to a different section might not be a bad idea.
The Napa Valley where Justin-Siena is located is still Sac-Joaquin Section country for the larger schools of Napa, Vintage and American Canyon while the smaller schools are in the NCS.
Napa and Vintage would seem aligned in many ways with nearby Sonoma County schools in the NCS such as those in Petaluma and Santa Rosa. Furthermore, going to an SJS playoff game to a place like El Dorado Hills or Rocklin can be a traffic nightmare. Still, it’s more important in all factors for Napa and Vintage to stay with the Vallejo schools. So unless it’s a move with the Vallejo schools to the NCS as well, they should probably sit still.
Looking way to the south in the SJS, there have been rumblings for years that the larger Merced County schools should be in the CIF Central Section. And since we’re getting close to the point in which the schools involved are a growing group with new school El Capitan-Merced now joining Merced, Golden Valley-Merced, Atwater and Buhach Colony-Atwater, forming a new league that would be in the Central Section and no longer in the SJS begins to make more sense.
It’s always been the case for many Merced County schools to be more connected to Fresno to the south than Sacramento to the north. If you were to watch a Friday night football scores show on TV in Merced or Atwater this season, you won’t see your school mentioned at all on a Sacramento station but you’d see plenty on the Fresno channels. And now that the Central Section is going to be in the north for the football bowl games, that would just make a switch for the Merced/Atwater schools into that section even easier.
In addition to the Napa Valley and Merced County, the Sac-Joaquin Section could see movement in Sutter County, but that would be an addition and not a subtraction. In that case, of course, we’re referring to Sutter High leaving the CIF Northern Section and going to the SJS.
In recent seasons, Sutter has had a football program and athletic department in general looking for better competitive situations, and joining the SJS would certainly help. The school, after all, is next door to Yuba City and Marysville, the northernmost schools in the SJS. Other SJS schools, however, wouldn’t be crazy about any trips that far north.
Schools in the Humboldt-Del Norte region of the NCS also have always seemed more aligned with schools in the Northern Section from Redding and Red Bluff. It’s just so much easier going up and down Highway 101, however, than going back and forth on Highway 299 that such a move like that probably will never happen.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of CalHiSports.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.