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est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

New Orange County Football Leagues Even the Playing Field

Demetri Garcia
Wildcats varsity football takes the field before a 2023-2024 home game. This fall, the team will join a new league — Kappa — as part of the county’s efforts to create more balanced and equitable league and playoff match-ups.

Orange County athletic directors and principals agreed to a new league configuration for the county’s football programs, effective this fall. The change, which was finalized on Dec. 12, is an attempt to create more equity and balance in league play and California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) play-offs.

The change was implemented to reduce blowouts and to group teams of similar skill level.

“The change of league will give us a greater probability of winning league games, and CIF,” Elijah Sanchez, junior and varsity football player, said.

The Wildcats’ new league is called the Kappa League, a name derived from the Greek alphabet (the top division is “Alpha,” the smallest, “Zeta”), and will consist of St. Margaret’s, Segerstrom, Westminster, Esperanza, and Garden Grove high schools.

This year, Wildcats varsity football started their season 4-1, but went 0-3 in the Crestview League and were outscored 170-13. Crestview’s Villa Park, Yorba Linda, and Foothill high schools compete in divisions 3, 4, and 5, respectively, while the Wildcats competed in division 10.

Despite the late-season struggles, the Wildcats advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 10 play-offs. They fell to Elsinore High School, 17-6.

These new leagues are so much more balanced skill-wise than they were before.

— Jack Dooley, junior

“These new leagues are so much more balanced skill-wise than they were before,” Jack Dooley, junior and first team All-Crestview League offensive lineman, said. 

There are 12 leagues with new names, with the teams placed in leagues based on a rating determined by calpreps.com. The recent year’s record accounts for 65 percent of the rating, and the previous year’s record is 35 percent. 

“Every year they are going to look at how the teams do in their leagues and in the playoffs, then reshuffle it from there so leagues can potentially be moving every year; hopefully BOHS will be moving up,” Justin Villasenor, varsity football coach, said.

Despite the benefits of league and play-off equity, concerns were expressed about the new configurations ending traditional league match-ups. Teams that had developed longtime rivalries with neighboring schools — like BOHS and Yorba Linda — are now in different leagues.  

Issak Rivas-Melendez, junior and varsity football player, is looking forward to developing new rivalries, including a rematch against new league foe Westminster, whom the Wildcats defeated 28-26 in last season’s home opener. 

“Since it was a close win and a hard-fought game, I think the team agrees that they have become our new rival,” Rivas-Melendez said.

Head coach Villasenor is also looking forward to the realignment. “[We] have a better shot at winning some league games,” Villasenor said.

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Siena Codekas
Siena Codekas, Sports Editor
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  • ToriFeb 11, 2024 at 8:07 am

    I appreciate how the information was relayed in this article; I felt informed and excited to learn more all the way through to the very end!

  • Mallory SpeakmanFeb 9, 2024 at 10:45 am

    Very interesting to learn how the league has evolved and adapted to try and provide equity in the competition amongst the league. I think it’s a great strategy and allows the schools to potentially interact and play with far more schools as the leagues get reshuffled based on a scoring system. Very professional and informative article, Siena! Well done!

  • BrittanyFeb 6, 2024 at 6:06 pm

    Another well rounded article written by Siena. She covers the what, why, summary of last season, a description of the new league, and the concerns that have been expressed by others. I look forward to hearing (and seeing) how it goes! I think the games will be more fun to attend if they due to turn out to be closer matched in skill/performance level as anticipated.

  • NickFeb 5, 2024 at 8:42 pm

    I think the new league structure has big potential. It will be interesting to see how it all works out now and into the future. I appreciate the CIF showing some flexibility in a genuine attempt to benefit the schools and players. Great article!!

  • Lion fanFeb 5, 2024 at 8:32 pm

    Westminster is getting a new coach so this should be an interesting year

  • JerryFeb 5, 2024 at 5:32 pm

    Looks like it will take a whilevto sort out if this will be effective but on paper it looks promising

  • Karen CodekasFeb 5, 2024 at 5:26 pm

    Wow! Another well thoughtbout article. Siena seems to anticipate my questions. After reading this article I totally understood the thinking behind the changes. I feel these changes will make a better experience for the players and their fans.