Southern Colorado prep football coaches differ on new leagues
By Tracy Renck
Colorado CoachesAid.com content coordinator
PUEBLO - It might be hard to recognize the Colorado High School Activities Association football leagues this fall.
From Class 1A through 5A, the leagues went through an extreme makeover that changed the landscape locally.
In Class 4A, Pueblo South and Pueblo West are now in the same league, the Foothills. The Colts and Cyclones are joined by Cheyenne Mountain, Mesa Ridge and Widefield.
"I felt it would've probably been more logical to make one 10-team league, from the Foothills and Pikes Peak, but what they did, we just have to go with it," South coach Mark Haering said. "The biggest difficulty for us (with the realignment) was finding six non-league games."
South also is scheduled to clash with Valor Christian in 2010. Valor is the defending Class 3A state champs, but moved up to Class 4A and is competing in the South Metro Conference with Castle View, Legend, Littleton, Ponderosa and Rock Canyon.
Monte Pinkerton, Pueblo West's coach, took the changes in stride. "To me, it's kind of all the same either way," said Pinkerton, who led West to the 2007 Class 4A state title. "We had a real competitive league before and I think they wanted to thin that out a little bit. To me, the biggest thing is the smaller league. I would have preferred to have a bigger league because now we have to scramble to find more non-league games."
The fact the South-West game now has league ramifications wasn't lost on either coach.
"Every league game is important, so that game is important to us, you bet," Haering said. "Obviously, you can't get to the state playoffs without winning your league, No. 1."
Pinkerton also welcomes clashing with the Colts with more on the line.
"I thought it was kind of a travesty we weren't in the same league as them before," Pinkerton said. "Now that we're in the same league with them, it will add more meaning to the game. Pueblo South always is going to be at the top of the state and when we meet them now, it will have more ramifications."
Last year, South was in the nine-team Foothills League and West was in the eight-team Pikes Peak League.
Central, East, Pueblo County, Centennial, Canon City and Alamosa, which were all in the Southern League a year ago, were split up in the new alignment.
Central and Pueblo County remain in the eight-team Southern League, while East, Canon and Centennial are now in the eight-team South-Central League.
Alamosa dropped down to Class 2A and is competing in the Mountain League. Dolores Huerta remains in the Class 2A Tri-Peaks League, but the league only has eight members instead of nine. Rye is in the same six-team Santa Fe League.
"To me, the way the leagues are now kind of diminishes the in-town rivalries," Central coach Dave Craddock said. "When we met with the (Southern League) coaches last November, it was unanimous at that point we were going to keep the Southern League intact. Sometime between that time and when CHSAA ratified the leagues, somebody had the bright idea to split us all up again. I'm a little disappointed about it (the new setup). I hate that every time there's a league re-alignment, they split up Pueblo."
East coach David Ramirez kept the changes in perspective.
"It would've been great if we were able to keep all of the local teams together in the same league," Ramirez said. "I think it's still a competitive league and we feel like we're still going to play against quality teams. We're just going to approach the season one game at a time and the ultimate goal is to win a state championship."
Bob Trahern, Canon City's athletic director, believes the new-look S-CL will benefit the Tigers.
"I think it's a good setup," Trahern said. "We still are getting to play most of the Pueblo schools and this format gives the traditional schools a better chance to get in the playoffs."
SOUTHERN COLORADO AREA FOOTBALL REALIGNMENT
CLASS 4A FOOTHILLS
CLASS 3A S-CL
The Classical Academy
CLASS 3A SOUTHERN
CLASS 2A TRI-PEAKS
C.S. Christian School
CLASS 2A MOUNTAIN
CLASS 1A SANTA FE
article updated on 02/3/10 11:27