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Section Format In Place For Sports Squads
Sac-Joaquin Section head Pete Saco addresses members of the media pertaining to the recent realignment and playoff formats. - photo by JAGADA CHAMBERS/THE LEADER

All the speculation about the structure of the upcoming postseason action and league realignment formats in the Sac-Joaquin Section can come to an end as the 2009-10 realignment plan is set in stone.

The Valley Oak League will hold true to its form for one final season before the league gives way to a new face that will change the dynamics of one of the section’s proven leagues with a couple interesting switches.

Central Valley, Ceres, East Union, Lathrop (no football), Manteca, Sierra, Sonora, Weston Ranch and Oakdale will compete for VOL bragging rights this year, yet the 2010-11 season will see a completely different make-up than in years past.

The realignment will see Ceres and Central Valley make their home in the Western Athletic Conference and new high school Kimball in Tracy making its way into the VOL. The league will be an eight team set-up.

The playoff qualifiers for the 2009-10 season will send an automatic three bids to the postseason from the VOL in football, boys soccer, softball, girls soccer, track and baseball, lifting the postseason opportunities for all of the programs in the league, even without garnering a league championship.

The football postseason structure took on the most change, taking on a four bracket, 16-team set-up for Division I through IV, with V and VI playing in a six-team bracket.

The Division III and IV brackets will be comprised of teams from nine different leagues, the CAL, CVC, MLL, PVL, SCAC, TCC, TVL, VOL and the WAC. Division IV schools will have to get through the bigger Division III programs like Rodriguez, Rio Linda and Del Campo.

There will be 32 teams that make the postseason in all, 16 from Division IV and 16 from Division III, resulting from the 16 schools with the largest enrolment. The new structure will have the smallest program (Ripon Christian, 260 enrollment) going through the big boys (Rodriguez, 2,347 enrollment) for the Division III Sac-Joaquin Section Championship.

The effort was a long, grueling process that will hopefully prove a more stable look for the teams aspiring to earn a postseason section football title.

“We have put a lot of effort into realignment,” Section head Pete Saco said. “We started about a year in advance, but probably October of ’08 we began putting plans together. It was real intense for about a year.

“We think that we have some good leagues with some good match ups and we’re excited.”