Academy League disbanded for 2016 football season
CIF-Southern Section by-laws require a minimum of four teams to make up a league.
The Academy League was a four-team football league last year. One of those four, Sage Hill, announced this past spring that it will play 8-man football this year. That left the Academy with three schools – Brethren Christian, Crean Lutheran and St. Margaret’s.
A school to replace Sage Hill could not be found, so the Academy League has been disbanded for football this season. Brethren, Crean and St. Margaret’s will be freelance teams, which are teams that do not have a league affiliation.
Brethren, Crean and St. Margaret’s were able to find replacements for Sage Hill on their schedules so they will play 10 games this season.
St. Margaret’s athletic director Patrick Bendzick said there is no bitterness toward Sage Hill - “We feel their pain,” Bendzick said – but Sage’s departure created uncertainty.
Freelance teams can qualify for the playoffs in football and other sports. But a leading criteria for playoff qualification is finishing high enough in league standings to receive a guaranteed playoff berth.
Freelance teams must apply for at-large berth consideration. They are then placed in the pool of at-large applicants that includes teams that did not finish high enough in their league standings for guaranteed playoff berths.
The CIF-SS had three 11-man at-large teams last season – Campbell Hall of North Hollywood, Excelsior of Victorville and Trinity Classical Academy of Valencia – and none of those teams received an at-large berth although all had the .500-or-better overall records required for at-large berth consideration. (It is possible that one or all three of those teams did not apply for at-large berths).
Under the revised playoff format for the 2016 season, in which teams go to playoff divisions based upon their past competitive success instead of their league affiliation, St. Margaret’s is a Division 7 football team, Brethren Christian is a Division 10 team and Crean Lutheran is a Division 11 team.
“All three of us have tough schedules,” Bendzick said. “We’re going to have to do well to get in as at-large teams.”