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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The Central Section's newest proposal for league realignment in the 2014-15 school year has Garces moving up — way up — into the Southwest Yosemite League, or whatever it might be called at that time.
Point is, the Rams look like they're headed to the power league, where they would join Bakersfield, Centennial, Frontier, Liberty and Stockdale in what would be a battle royale for league titles in just about every sport.
In the original 2014 proposal, Garces was in a second-tier league with Golden Valley, Independence, Ridgeview, Tehachapi and West, but the section's Board of Managers decided Garces could compete with the big boys. Under the new proposal, East High will move into to take Garces' spot in this league.
That leaves the other five public city schools to their own league: Foothill, Highland, Mira Monte, North and South.
The proposal will be discussed again by the Board of Managers in January and then will be voted upon May 1. Appeals will be heard later in May.
Garces athletic director Lela Steiber told me the school doesn't plan to appeal but that moving into the power league isn't exactly what the Rams had in mind, either.
"We asked to be put in the Division II league, which was that second league (with Independence, Ridgeview, etc.)," Steiber said. "They originally accepted that, but they did go back and make a change. My concern, of course, is numbers. We have 610 students. We'll have to compete against larger, Division I high schools. We will work and prepare ourselves and hopefully we will be successful in the power league. It's a tremendous challenge."
I talked briefly with Garces football coach Jim Maples, who certainly had a team this year that could have competed in any league in the section. But the Division II championship coach said it won't always be that way.
“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.”
That's true, though it's worth noting this year's Garces team had one of the biggest varsity rosters in Kern County. And here's an interesting addendum: Steiber acknowledged that being a private school in a high-profile league could have indirect benefits.
"On the optimistic side, I think we will draw some athletes to our high school who normally might not have come because we're in the power league," Steiber said. "That might draw some more athletes."