Orange County public schools gone from Southern Section Pac-5 division

Orange County public schools gone from Southern Section Pac-5 division
Mater Dei football. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

And then there were none.

Orange County public schools have officially vanished from the Southern Section's premier playoff division in football, the Pac-5.


The Southern Section released its new playoff divisions for 2014 on Tuesday, and the Pac-5 will be comprised of the Big VIII League, led by Corona Centennial; the Trinity, led by private schools St. John Bosco, Anaheim Servite and Santa Ana Mater Dei; an unnamed parochial league, led by private schools Alemany, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Gardena Serra; the Marmonte, led by Ventura St. Bonaventure, Westlake and Oaks Christian, and the Moore, led by 19-time champion Long Beach Poly.

It means there won't be a single public school from Orange County represented in the Pac-5.

"I guess it says we're lagging behind the private schools," Huntington Beach Edison Coach Dave White said. "The rich are getting richer."

Edison, as a member of the Sunset League, was moved out of the Pac-5 in 2012. Now the South Coast League, where Mission Viejo has been king, will leave the Pac-5 and join the Sunset in a new West Valley Division that will also include the Foothill, Baseline and Southwestern leagues.

The rise of the Big VIII League and its group of public schools with enrollments of more than 3,000 students tells of the Inland Empire's burgeoning talent pool and also the influence of Centennial Coach Matt Logan, whose hurry-up, wide-open offense is being imitated around Southern California.

"I guess we take it as a compliment and am thankful being in a league with Centennial," Corona Santiago Coach Jeff Steinberg said.

Said Logan: "With the growth of the area and how well teams have performed across the board is probably why the move has been done."

But the changes also reveal the success of an all-out competition for top player and coaching talent being waged by the private schools in the Trinity League that has been diminishing the competitiveness of Orange County public schools.

While Mission Viejo and Edison have remained competitive against Pac-5 schools, others have not. Tesoro did make to the Pac-5 final in 2008 and San Clemente in 2011.

Orange County likes to consider itself a hotbed for football talent, but now it's only Mater Dei, Servite, Orange Lutheran, Santa Margarita and JSerra that are left in the Pac-5.

Leagues can appeal if they don't like their placement.