Prep Review / Tom Hamilton : County Principals Will Review Eight Releaguing Proposals

The final releaguing plan for Orange County high schools is expected to be completed and reviewed by county principals on March 5 and several significant changes are being proposed.

Among the schools that could be affected are Tustin, Orange, Villa Park, Laguna Hills and Trabuco Hills, which is scheduled to open in the fall and play a freelance schedule. The changes would take effect in the 1986-87 school year.

El Dorado and Esperanza expressed a desire to move out of the Empire League, but it appears that the league will remain intact as the county's only eight-team league.

A five-man committee that is being headed by La Habra Principal Tom Triggs with assistance from principals Bob Metz (Mission Viejo), Ron Cozort (Valencia), Jack Fox (Villa Park) and Warren Stephenson (Kennedy) are reviewing eight proposals before finalizing a plan that must be approved by a majority of the county's principals.

Basically, there are three criteria for releaguing--size of school, distance involved for travel to competition and strength of programs. The strength of program generally correlates to the strength of a school's football program.

The Tustin and Orange football programs, which have struggled in the powerful Century League, are hoping to get a reprieve in a new league. Dr. Bill Brand, the principal at Trabuco Hills, has made a proposal that would place the two schools in the same league with University, Saddleback, Estancia and Newport Harbor.

Laguna Hills, with an enrollment of 1,650 students, has had problems competing with Capistrano Valley (2,100), El Toro (3,000) and Mission Viejo (2,177) in the South Coast League. The Hawks would move into a more-compatible league with Trabuco Hills, Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, Woodbridge and Corona del Mar under Brand's plan.

The South Coast League would then revert to being a six-team league while the Century League would be reduced from eight teams to six.

"We don't want to make a lot of changes, but you never know what you can be forced into," Triggs said. "Football is a major influence, but we also have to take into consideration the girls sports."

One proposal that is meeting a lot of resistance has come from the Placentia Unified School District. District schools El Dorado and Esperanza asked to be moved out of the Empire League, citing the rising cost of transportation and missed classes by lower-level athletes who compete in the afternoon.

The district also proposed that Los Alamitos and Pacifica move out of the league and into the Garden Grove League, but that plan was rejected. It appears as if the Empire League will remain intact.

Don't look for any changes in the Sunset or Freeway leagues. The Sunset League is comprised of six teams from the Huntington Beach Union High School District--Edison, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Marina, Ocean View and Westminster. The Freeway League is comprised of six Fullerton Union High School District teams--Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, Sonora, Sunny Hills and Troy.

But the status of Troy remains in limbo because of the possibility of the annexation of 900 students by the Placentia Unified School.

The Message: If you buy a game program for a high school athletic event and open to the first page, you'll notice that most have a large picture of the school's principal and a short message welcoming one and all.

Generally, the message talks about the benefits of extra-curricular activities and praises the valuable lessons of sportsmanship, fair play and the spirit of competition. It's all neatly typed on the school's letterhead with a sincere thanks for attending the event.

With that in mind, consider the six principals in the Huntington Beach Union High School District.

First, they voted that Edison's basketball team must forfeit five victories for utilizing an ineligible player, thus knocking the third-place Chargers out of the playoffs.

Two days later, they ruled that Edison could participate in a four-team playoff to determine the league's third representative in the Southern Section 5-A playoffs.

Then, 24 hours later, they once again ruled that the Chargers were out of the playoffs.

Was the matter handled in the best interest of sportsmanship and fair play? Was the roller coaster ride that Coach Jon Borchert and his players experienced in a period of four days in the spirit of competition?

The next time these six principals sit down to write their front-page messages, complete with their prominently displayed photographs, perhaps they should take a long, hard look at themselves.

Prep Notes

Tom Lewis of Mater Dei has been invited to participate in the Dapper Dan All-Star Game on April 2 at Pittsburgh and the McDonald's East-West All-American game on April 13 in the Moody Coliseum at Dallas. . . . Trabuco Hills principal Dr. Bill Brand announced the school nickname will be the Mustangs and the colors will be navy and gray patterned after the Dallas Cowboys. . . . El Modena guard Darren DeFeo tied a school record with 14 assists in the Vanguards' 58-53 win over Santa Ana Valley in Century League play. . . . Mark Robbins, a former all-Southern Section tennis player at La Quinta High School, was killed recently in an automobile accident. After graduating from La Quinta, Robbins went on to play at Santa Ana College, where he was a member of the Dons' South Coast Conference championship team in 1983 and was Santa Ana's No. 1 singles and doubles player last year. . . . Former El Toro basketball player Tom O'Brien, now at Cal Poly Pomona, has been named to the Division 2, District 8 All-Academic team by the College Sports Information Directors of America. O'Brien, who has a 3.2 grade-point average in construction engineering, is a three-year starter for the Broncos, averaging 11.6 points per game and shooting 58% from the field.

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