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League realignments approved for Empire high school teams

Windsor's Patrick Tappin (27), left, and Tanner Tobon (22) celebrate after Tappin scored a touchdown on a kickoff return during the first half of a varsity football game between Montgomery and Windsor high schools in Windsor on Friday, September 29, 2017. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

KERRY BENEFIELD,

Super league it is.

The North Coast Section Board of Managers voted unanimously Tuesday to discard the current North Bay and Sonoma County league structure and adopt a so-called “super league” in which sports from the 12 participating schools will compete in either the North Bay League I or North Bay League II, depending on their level of competitiveness.

The divisions will be created on a sport-by-sport basis, meaning teams from the same schools can compete in different leagues.

Under the plan, teams from both the NBL I and NBL II can earn spots in NCS postseason play.

As part of the deal, Petaluma, Casa Grande and Sonoma Valley will join a new league to be formed with Napa, Vintage, American Canyon and Justin-Siena.

North Coast Section commissioner Gil Lemmon praised officials from the participating schools for their equanimity in the face of a moving landscape.

The realignment effort was launched in April when NCS officials agreed to allow three schools — Napa, Vintage and American Canyon — into the section. Schools in the Marin County Athletic, North Bay and Sonoma County leagues were affected, with school officials working over the summer to create new leagues to help accommodate the three schools.

Section bylaws limited school officials to consider only competitive equity, the creation of an environment in which an athletic program has a reasonable opportunity for success and geographic proximity.

Rivalries or historic league placement did not factor.

Officials from the new NBL I and NBL II leagues have already approved league designations for eight sports: football, baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ basketball and volleyball.

For example, Montgomery High will compete in the NBL I in boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball, but in the NBL II in football.

Some sports — such as swimming and track — in which participants train in a coed environment but compete as separate boys’ and girls’ teams are still being discussed.

The changes go into effect next fall and the divisions will be reconsidered every two years.

At the same time, NCS officials will also look at the league makeup of all section schools as part of a regular analysis of the configuration.

Any changes made in that process will go into effect in 2020.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”