BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
The league realignment proposal for the Central Section that would take effect in fall 2014 has changed slightly.
The upshot? The Southwest Yosemite League, known informally as Bakersfield's "power" league, is about to get more powerful.
The new proposal moves Garces into the SWYL with Bakersfield, Centennial, Frontier, Liberty and Stockdale. The Rams would essentially replace Independence in the current SWYL structure.
It's a move that has some at Garces, a private Catholic school with an enrollment of about 600, apprehensive about moving into a league with five Division I programs with enrollments ranging from 1,800-2,800.
"I think it's going to be very difficult for us with our enrollment, but it is what it is," said Rams football coach Jim Maples, whose team won the Southeast Yosemite League and the section Division II title this fall. "To me, it made more sense to have teams within the same division in the same league."
Maples also said he had a concern with injuries and depth during years when he has a small roster, and that he will consider adjusting his pre-league schedule to make up for a tougher league.
"When you've got the five teams that are in there right now, along with us, we all know week in and week out those are going to be battles," Maples said. "Hopefully, we'll stay healthy through that."
As in the original proposal, Independence would then move to a league with Golden Valley, Ridgeview, Tehachapi and West. Joining them in this version would be East, which originally was proposed in a third-tier league made up of schools with generally Division III and IV programs.
That third-tier league would now consist of five teams: Foothill, Highland, Mira Monte, North and South.
Garces athletic director Lela Steiber said the school asked to be put in the second-tier league with Independence and Ridgeview, which is where it was in the original proposal.
"(The board of managers) went back and make a change," she said. "My concern is numbers. We're a small school. We have 610 students, and we'll have to compete against much larger, Division I schools."
The proposal will be discussed at the Central Section Board of Managers meeting in January and voted upon May 1. If it is approved, school appeals will be heard later in May, and the new leagues would take effect in August 2014 for a minimum of two school years.
Steiber said Garces does not plan to appeal its placement.
"We're a very good Division II high school," she said. "We will work and prepare ourselves and hopefully we will be successful in the power league. It's a tremendous challenge. But we'll do the best we can to compete successfully."
She also said the Rams might see an indirect benefit as a private school in a high-profile league.
"On the optimistic side, I think we can draw some athletes to our high school who normally might not have come, because we're in the power league," Steiber said.