This year's BCSSFA AGM saw a realignment that represents a fundamental and historic shift in how high school football is structured in BC.
A little background and context. Historically, AA ball has been the level in which new teams/programs entered play at the varsity level. This, combined with the exit of teams to AAA ball and AAA teams dropping down to AA has kept the league in a constant state of flux. Further instability was created by weak and unsustainable AA programs folding at the beginning of the season or in mid-stride. As the number of AA teams has grown in past years, two tiers of programs within it really became pronounced and this has led to lots and lots of blowout scores.
In 2008 a third tier of AA ball was created. This was named Tier 2 and it was composed largely of those programs who by virtue of structure, limited coaching resources, challenging demographics or a combination of all of these factors, just could not compete week in and week out. The first year of play in this tier was by and large a resounding success. There was much parity and a playoff challenge vs the Prince George/North champions was a close affair. Congratulations Vanderhoof!
Looking back at 08, the tier 2 league has shown much promise and AA gained a large measure of stability. In fact, there is so much stability that AA for the first time in many, many years has been able to have a schedule complete by the January AGM putting it on par with its AAA bretheren. Further, the alignment within AA has it composed of programs with the most competitive parity in the history of the league. Tier 2 has also grown in numbers and will likely continue to grow in size as new programs feel that it is competitively safe to begin play at that level.
From an administrative point of view, there is now a climate whereby very important tasks can be addressed at a far earlier time in the year. For instance:
- Exhibition can be arranged in Jan/Feb
- The AA Varsity and AAA Varsity schedules can be posted on the BCSSFA Website
- Rosters can be posted in early spring as opposed to mid to late summer.
- The JV and Tier 2 schedules can be made earlier and once complete THE BCOFA CAN VET THE SCHEDULES IN EARLY SPRING.
- With the website updated and organized, BCSSFA members can by and large be registered on-line prior to school being out in June. This means that when coaches are at their busiest in the Fall, online registration is a matter of tweaking instead of a time consuming monster.
- With registration done in June, statistical entry on the site will be current right from the outset.
- Provincial and local media can milk the site to enrich and add accuracy to their reporting which benefits the profile of the sport.
- More time is spent by all parties on playing better football than on administrative duties.
Hopefully our BCSSFA executive will act decisively along these lines. They should be pushed to do so.
Back to AA football.
2009 is going to be the most muscular AA league ever. In fact, an argument can be made that the parity within the conference will be the best at any level in BC as the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" will be the most narrow.
Below is the structure for 09 accompanied by boys g. 11/12 in 2008.
Coastal Conference Valley Conference
John Barsby (158) Mission (225)
Ballenas (261) Seaquam (275)
Timberline (270) Langley (308)
Mt. Douglas (289) Rick Hansen (252)
Belmont (516) Abby Collegiate (354)
Windsor (186) Hugh Boyd (211)
Handsworth (277) Pitt Meadows (195)
Frank Hurt (262) Sands (174)
South Delta (290)
The Interior/North will be playing a mixed AA/Tier 2 Schedule with teams declaring this spring as to which playoff tournament they will be seeded into. There will be two (2) quarter-final playoff berths coming out of the Interior-North wild-card playoff. There will be 6 berths from the Coast and Valley conferences into the quarter-finals after wild-card weekend sorts itself out in week 10.
When you look at the divisions it is plain to see that the league games are going to be intense and competitive! The Coast conference will be playing for keeps in week 1! How important is a good spring and pre-season going to be!! All I can say is WOW! Folks are going to be fighting for their football lives every week.
At the end of the year, one thing will be certain, everybody in AA will have gotten a lot better from a competitive standpoint and the playoff teams will be battle hardened. This will serve as a great launching pad for the league in 2010 with greater things to come thereafter!
My next post will contain the AA Master Schedule for 2009 along with some thoughts.