Sac-Joaquin Section moves SFL schools into Division I in several sports

Change affects baseball, softball, wrestling, golf and tennis
By: Roseville Press Tribune Staff Report
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The Sierra Foothill League will compete in Division I in baseball, softball, wrestling, golf and tennis beginning next school year, the Sac-Joaquin Section announced late last week.

There were two main reasons, section director of communications Will DeBoard said Saturday in multiple text messages to the Press Tribune.

The SFL dominated the Division II playoffs last school year by winning 16 of 22 section championships and is on an equal pace as this school year nears its end. DeBoard noted that Oak Ridge and Ponderosa won some of those titles before realignment moved them to the rugged Delta River League two years ago with Jesuit, Pleasant Grove, Folsom and Sheldon.

Also, Superior California Athletic League schools “grew too large” for Division III after Hogan closed. Three schools with enrollments of more than 2,000 have been competing against SCAL opponents with fewer than 1,000 students.

Granite Bay baseball coach Pat Esposito recalled competing in Division I in 2005 and 2006, when the Grizzlies went to the Metro League.

“The league wasn’t very good, but when we got into the playoffs, it was great to play against those big teams,” said Esposito, whose Grizzlies lead the SFL with a 9-1 record. “We can compete with the teams up there. We’re a school of 2,100 students, so we’re not a huge school, but we’re good enough where I welcome that opportunity to go back to DI and play up there.”

The change means Del Oro now can play no lower than Division II in the section football playoffs. The Golden Eagles have won the last two SFL football titles and are two-time reigning Division III section champs.

Roseville football coach Larry Cunha, the longtime league representative, said Monday the SFL’s other teams would remain in the same division for the playoffs as last season with Granite Bay, Woodcreek and Nevada Union in Division I and Roseville and Rocklin in Division II.

It would be the same for basketball, Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes said.