Which School Is No. 1? : Prep sports: The Times will answer that question by naming the county’s all-around champions for 1993-94.
Players, coaches, parents and sportswriters have debated it for years, at high school fields and gyms from La Habra to Dana Point.
Which Orange County school has the best all-around athletic program?
For the record:
12:00 AM, Sep. 17, 1993 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday September 17, 1993 Orange County Edition Sports Part C Page 12 Column 1 Sports Desk 2 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction
All-sports--Pacifica High School was listed with an incorrect enrollment and placed in the wrong division in a story previewing The Times’ all-sports competition in Wednesday’s Orange County edition. The Southern Section lists Pacifica as having an enrollment of 834, and the school will compete with 35 others in Division II.
A question asked, but never fully answered.
Beginning with the 1993-94 academic year, The Times Orange County will crown high school champions in two enrollment divisions: Division I (1,200 or more students) and Division II (fewer than 1,200).
The Times will rank the county’s 75 high school programs using a formula developed by the paper’s editors and prep sports staff.
Scoring will be based on winning percentage, league finishes and section championship play for boys’ and girls’ team sports sanctioned by the California Interscholastic Federation’s Southern Section. The boys’ and girls’ scores will be combined to determine the overall winners.
Each division champion will be awarded a traveling trophy, a trophy to keep and a banner to display in their gym. Second- and third-place teams in each division will receive trophies.
Esperanza, which won five section titles last season, was the top-ranked boys’ program in the section’s “Cavalcade of Champions,” an all-sports championship based on playoff performance.
The Times’ competition will be the county’s first comprehensive all-sports championship, rewarding not only playoff success but league finish and winning percentage as well.
Winning a state or section title is the goal of every program, but an all-sports championship offers a new dimension, said Stu Pospisil, prep sports editor of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald.
The World-Herald’s statewide all-sports championship, which started in the 1950s, helps “tie the sports seasons together” and encourages athletes to play more than one sport, Pospisil said.
“Schools such as Lincoln Southeast encourage multi-sport athletes,” he said, “and Southeast has won more all-sports championships than any other school in the state.”
A number of factors impact an all-sports championship--playoff draws, injuries, suspensions and forfeits.
Even one multi-sport star can make a difference, and the county has several impact players. Among them:
--Valencia senior Chris Draft, a standout in football and baseball.
--Huntington Beach senior Tony Gonzalez, arguably the county’s best football and basketball player.
--Newport Harbor junior Misty May, who led the Sailors to a State volleyball title last season and also placed in the high jump at the State meet.
Potentially, each team they play for could contribute as much as 40 points to their schools’ totals. Leading a school to a couple of league and section championships could set the table for an all-sports title.
Multi-sport athletes and strong girls’ programs have played key roles in the Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Sun-Sentinel’s all-sports championship, which began in 1966. The Times’ all-sports scoring formula is based partially on the Sun-Sentinel’s.
Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas has won eight all-sports titles from 1982 to ’92, including five in a row. St. Thomas relied on multi-sport stars such as Michael Irvin (football and track) and Mike Stanley (football and baseball).
Stanley, who accepted a baseball scholarship to Florida, is now the New York Yankees’ catcher. Irvin went to Miami on a football scholarship and is now a wide receiver for the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys.
Balance also is a key. Four St. Thomas boys’ teams and four girls’ teams won regional or district titles in its 1991-92 all-sports championship season.
“The girls’ teams at St. Thomas have done very well over the years,” said Ray Boetel, Sun-Sentinel prep sports editor. “The girls’ soccer and golf teams are always tough. You’ll find that girls’ sports have a lot to do with the outcome of an all-sports (championship).”
Esperanza has encouraged multi-sport athletes over the years, said Jim Patterson, Aztec boys’ athletic director. Based on last season’s success, the Aztecs will likely be the program to beat in The Times’ Division I.
“Don’t put the monkey on our back,” Patterson said. “Los Alamitos is going to be very, very tough, and so will the South County schools.”
Last season, the Aztecs won section titles in baseball, boys’ volleyball, water polo, boys’ soccer and shared the football championship with Empire League rival Los Alamitos.
The Aztecs easily won the section boys’ all-sports championship with 26 points, 14 more than second-place schools Pasadena Muir, Nordhoff and La Crescenta Crescenta Valley. Corona del Mar was fifth with 11 points, followed by Irvine and Sunny Hills with 10 each.
Pasadena Poly won the girls’ division with 13 points, followed by Laguna Hills and Newport Harbor with 12 each, Laguna Beach with 11 and Corona del Mar 10.
Mater Dei’s basketball and football programs make it a dangerous contender. Los Alamitos, Capistrano Valley and Marina should figure prominently in the standings.
Huntington Beach High challenged for Sunset League titles in nearly every sport last season. Irvine is the Sea View League’s top contender. And don’t count out sleepers such as Sunny Hills, Trabuco Hills and Valencia.
Corona del Mar is favored in Division II. The Sea Kings always field good water polo and cross-country teams, and their boys’ basketball team won a section title last season. The girls’ volleyball team returns four starters from last season’s section, State and national championship team.
Sea View League rivals Santa Margarita and Newport Harbor should challenge Corona del Mar. Laguna Beach, the county’s smallest public school, traditionally is among the top Pacific Coast League teams in several sports, including volleyball, tennis and boys’ basketball.
Other top contenders are El Modena, Brea-Olinda, La Quinta and Whittier Christian.
All the schools in contention boast strong athletic traditions. But, as Pospisil has noticed in a decade of covering Nebraska prep sports, an all-sports championship offers potential to start another kind of tradition.
“Over the years, I think the all-sports award has meant as much to a community as it has to a school,” he said.
“When you pass through a small town, you’ll usually see a sign at the city limits that says something like, ‘Humphrey St. Francis, 1988, 1989 and 1990 all-sports champions.’ It gives you another sense of community pride.”
Using enrollment figures from the Southern Section and individual schools, Orange County’s high schools were split into two divisions. The cutoff point was 1,200 students.
DIVISION I (40 SCHOOLS)
Santa Ana Valley 1,990; Dana Hills, 1,985; Saddleback 1,957; Capistrano Valley 1,942; Santa Ana 1,908; Fountain Valley 1,875; Servite/Rosary 1,830; Esperanza 1,754; Los Alamitos 1,676; Irvine 1,616; Aliso Niguel 1,600; Santiago 1,590; Westminster 1,585; Century 1,574; Orange 1,571; El Toro 1,562; Marina 1,545; Mater Dei 1,519; San Clemente 1,515; Huntington Beach 1,497; Sunny Hills, 1,478; Ocean View 1,447; Anaheim 1,418; University 1,415; Edison 1,404; Tustin 1,389; Garden Grove 1,385; Loara 1,370; Canyon 1,323; Los Amigos 1,297; Woodbridge 1,294; Mission Viejo 1,269; Valencia 1,263; Katella 1,256; Pacifica 1,247; Villa Park 1,246; Savanna 1,241; Trabuco Hills 1,238; Bolsa Grande 1,224; Kennedy 1,211.
DIVISION II (35 SCHOOLS)
El Modena 1,171; Buena Park 1,152; Troy 1,151; Magnolia 1,149; Laguna Hills 1,146; La Habra 1,146; Fullerton 1,116; Cypress 1,095; La Quinta 1,087; Brea-Olinda 1,064; El Dorado 1,062; Sonora 1,039; Western 1,022; Santa Margarita 1,016; Foothill 1,012; Estancia 1,008; Newport Harbor 990; Rancho Alamitos 949; Costa Mesa 776; Corona del Mar 736; Laguna Beach 530; Whittier Christian 445; Liberty Christian 385; Calvary Chapel 356; Orange Lutheran 323; Brethren Christian 287; Connelly 210; Capistrano Valley Christian 169; Garden Grove Claremont 120; St. Margaret’s 120; Bethel Baptist 100; Southern California Christian 97; St. Michael’s Prep 86; Heritage Christian 85; Pacific Shores 60.