By Dan Lovi and Diego Marquez
Signal Staff Writers
In prior years, basketball league play wouldn’t start until after the new year. Foothill League teams wouldn’t face off until January, unless they happened to meet in a tournament game.
Starting this season, the CIF-Southern Section moved the athletics schedule up by a few weeks for all sports, despite the academic calendar actually moving forward a week compared to last year.
The new schedule hasn’t been the easiest transition for the local basketball teams, as practices have been cut short or canceled all together.
“We can’t practice for three days next week because we have finals,” Saugus boys basketball coach Alfredo Manzano said after his team’s first league game this past Friday. “We have to figure something out, but we can do something while we’re at school. Watch film. We will figure it out.”
Canyon head coach Sean DeLong held a boys hoops practice on Monday, but said he cut it short to give his players time to study for finals.
Valencia boys basketball coach Bill Bedgood was focused on winning his team’s season opener against Saugus, because lingering on a loss for several weeks could be detrimental for a team’s psyche.
“If you ask any coach in this league they probably were not excited about playing league games on Dec. 14 before you even get to Christmas break,” Bedgood said. “You don’t want to start off with a couple of losses and have to think about it for three weeks before you play more league games.”
The early start affects the soccer teams as well.
Saugus boys soccer coach Seth Groller admits that it’s a fair change, but isn’t fond of the changes.
“Obviously, this being the first year it’s new to everybody so we are still trying to figure it out,” Groller said. “This week especially was difficult on the players as they are trying to do their best and study for finals, but still as coaches and as a program, we are trying to get our team prepared. We are trying to balance their studies at the same time as preparing them for soccer.”
Instead of having 10 league games in a row, schools now play two league games before the end of the first semester. During the holiday break, schools schedule non-league games or enter tournaments to stay fresh and ramp league-play again before the beginning of the second semester.
“I always tell my players, there are basically three seasons,” Groller said. “Preleague, league season and the playoff season.”
Earlier this year, CIF-SS assistant commissioner Thom Simmons told Andrew J. Campa of the Los Angeles Times that the early start was put in place to align the Southern Section postseason with the rest of the state.
“Yes, that’s a large part of it, but also it was done due to the fact that schools are getting out earlier than in the past and that means less students at those spring events, as well as coaches and athletic administrators being forced to work longer years,” Simmons said to Campa via email.
The Foothill League basketball teams and soccer teams will play their second league game of the season today, before entering a three-week hiatus before the next league contest.