SPORTS: New football league formed to promote fairness

Earlier this year, the Silicon Valley Athletic League and the Peninsula Athletic League announced they would be combining to create one 32-team football league. This league will be separated into five divisions consisting of teams from both pre-existing leagues. While some details are still being ironed out by athletic directors, many aspects of the new combined league are set in stone and ready for the start of the 2022-2023 season.

Over the past six months, athletic directors and administrators from both leagues have been hard at work creating a plan for this new league.

“The goal of this league is to create safer and more interesting football games,” SCHS Principal Gregory Shelby said.

According to Shelby, the league hopes to address long-standing concerns about football equity and safety, which is often based on ability.

“When you have lower-level teams playing higher-level teams, the risk of injury is increased drastically,” he said.

This merge is intended to help balance divisions and ensure equity during games. Though the details have only been worked out in the past year, this concept has been years in the making. Shelby recalled working on this for a while.

“I remember working on this 10 years ago as a vice principal,” Shelby said. “Blowouts aren’t fun to watch, and this league will make games more interesting.”

The new league, which will be under the name of the Peninsula Athletic League, will consist of five divisions based on location and strength. The PAL’s Bay Division and SCVAL’s De Anza Division will be the two “A” divisions, PAL’s Ocean Division and SCVAL’s El Camino Division will be the two “B” divisions and PAL’s Lake Division will be the “C” division. While most of these divisions stayed the same, there was some movement of teams especially in the B and C divisions. Santa Clara will move from the De Anza Division to the El Camino Division.

The El Camino Division will welcome back Cupertino, Gunn and Los Altos. Santa Clara, Sequoia and The King’s Academy will join this division. These teams will play a total of five games against each other and two “crossover games,” where the northern teams will play the southern teams in their skill range. The goal of the crossover games is to add more games as a whole for athletes. Crossover games will be the first and last games of the season. The first crossover game will see El Camino teams play Ocean teams. This includes Santa Clara playing at Carlmont for their first game of the season.

While the first crossover game is against other divisional teams, the second crossover is reserved for rivalries, which the PAL is known for. At the end of every regular season, the PAL will have “Rivalry Week” where longtime rivals go head to head season after season.

“Maintaining rivalries was a key aspect in creating the league,” Shelby said.

It was decided that the second crossover game would be held as the last game of the regular season. For many schools, this is an opportunity to play against longtime rivals and close out their seasons with a bang. This is no exception for Santa Clara as the Bruins are set to take on the Chargers at home for their last game of the season to continue a multi-decade rivalry.

With changes related to equity and safety in place and the actions taken to preserve rivalries, the new Peninsula Athletic League and its five divisions are ready for an action packed 2022-2023 football season as Shelby tells fans to be ready.

“We are about to witness the best football this high school has seen in over 50 years,” Shelby said.