Why this Bay Area merger makes total sense

Two of the Central Coast Section’s top football leagues are joining forces, merging all 32 of their teams across five divisions starting this fall.

They’re doing this not to be the biggest and best league out there.

They’re doing it out of necessity.

Following a path paved two years ago by two East Bay leagues, the Santa Clara Valley and Peninsula Athletic leagues are uniting so that lower-level programs aren’t badly overmatched and might become re-energized.

“There were some hurdles and some complications,” Aragon football coach Steve Sell said. “But I really think that the overwhelming desire to create situations where kids on each sideline can look across and go, ‘OK, I know we have a chance tonight. This is a team we should be playing.’”

The schedule for next season became official Thursday, Sell said.

As reported by Palo Alto online, there will be two six-team “A” divisions, two six-team “B” divisions, and one eight-team “C” division.

The “A” divisions will look similar to the current SCVAL De Anza and PAL Bay divisions.

Los Gatos, Wilcox, Palo Alto, Milpitas, Mountain View and Homestead will make up the De Anza.

Menlo-Atherton, Burlingame, Sacred Heart Prep, Half Moon Bay, Menlo School and Aragon will comprise the Bay.

The top four in each of those leagues qualify for the CCS playoffs, which is the case in “A” leagues across the section.

One of the two “B” leagues will have a mix of PAL and SCVAL teams.

El Camino: Cupertino, Gunn, Los Altos and Santa Clara of the SCVAL and The King’s Academy and Sequoia of the PAL.

Ocean: Capuchino, Carlmont, Hillsdale, Jefferson, San Mateo and Terra Nova, all of the PAL.

The top two teams in each of those divisions qualify for CCS.

The “C” division – which will be called the Lake – will have Fremont of Sunnyvale, Lynbrook, Monta Vista and Saratoga of the SCVAL and El Camino, Mills, Woodside and South San Francisco of the PAL.

Only the “C” champion automatically moves on to CCS.

The “A” and “B” division teams will have one “crossover” game and one “rivalry” game to help fill out the schedule.

Wilcox’s crossover game will be against Menlo-Atherton and its rivalry game will be against Santa Clara, just as it has been for decades.

But not everyone in the merger has a rival to play.

Because Los Gatos and Menlo-Atherton no longer play theirs – Saratoga and Woodside, respectively – they will meet in the final week of the regular season next fall as “rivals.”

Los Gatos will play its “crossover” game against Sacred Heart Prep.

“The whole impetus for it was to try to help save some programs and get them on a more even playing field,” Los Gatos coach Mark Krail said. “I think we’ve accomplished that.

“My intrigue is the crossover games that have become a part of it. We’re going to play a really good Sacred Heart Prep team in the preseason and Week 11 we’re going to play Menlo-Atherton right before the playoffs. The only downside is we could see each other again in the playoffs. But whatever. Can’t control it. I think it’ll be good. Definitely worth trying.”

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