Balance subject of realignment meeting

By David Witte / sports@losbanosenterprise.comFebruary 1, 2013 

Things were going well for the Western Athletic Conference at Tuesday's second realignment meeting in Stockton.

Kerry McWilliams, the WAC's commissioner, gave a proposal to keep the league intact which was well received by the Sac-Joaquin Section realignment committee.

Then, as someone always does when realignment suggestions are being thrown about, Livingston athletic director Angelo Naldi stepped up and threw a curveball.

Naldi's suggestion was to send Central Catholic to another league.

"That came from his principal from what we've been told," Pacheco athletic director Charlie Pikas said. "The competitive equity balance is skewed with Central Catholic, and I think it's been brewing on their campus for a while, and I know after the football game this year that was so lopsided they started looking into removing Central Catholic from the league."

The score of the Livingston loss was 77-7, and by all accounts it wasn't that close. Central Catholic went on to demolish Santa Fe Christian 66-7 in the California Division 4 bowl game.

"We haven't gotten together as a league and talked about it," Pikas said. "I assume when we meet Feb. 13 it will be a topic of discussion. I think people in the room would agree there is a competitive imbalance."

But for now, the section's only action regarding the WAC was to accept its proposal to keep the league intact, which makes Pikas, Los Banos athletic director Joe Barcellos, and LB Unified School District Superintendent Steve Tietjen very happy.

"That's what I was wanting to see happen, for a number of reasons," Tietjen said. "The competition level in this league is fine. Even though the schools vary in size, it's a competitive league. Nobody's taking it to everybody else."

Tietjen had two major concerns with the original proposal, which would have taken Patterson and Central Valley out of the league and dropped Lathrop and Weston Ranch (in the western part of Stockton) into the league. His first issue was added travel time for the student-athletes.

"If we're on the road to Stockton two times a week, we would lose a day every week," Tietjen said. "Kids would be on the bus for two hours minimum, they would play the game, then it's two hours back. What good are they going to be in class the next day?"

His second concern was the added cost of traveling, something that is already a reality for Los Banos, the southern-most schools in the section.

The Livingston proposal to oust Central Catholic was a surprise, though.

"I've been a superintendent for 19 years, and as I've listened to re-leaguing proposals over the years, it's typical that public districts want the privates in their own league.

"I think it's a fairness issue at several levels. Private schools operate at a different set of inter-district rules. If you're a multiple-high school district and you have small private in your midst, students can go there and compete with kids that are specializing in a sport."

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

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