Drastic changes are about to hit a good chunk of football teams in the East Bay when this season begins with a slew of new leagues.
Highlighting the recent realignment of the North Coast Section's Bay Shore Conference is the creation of two super leagues.
The Tri-County Athletic League and West Alameda County Conference are the first of their kind in the East Bay: leagues that are divided into competitively equal divisions.
The TCAL is broken down into the Rock and Stone divisions. The WACC has the Foothill and Shoreline Leagues. The two leagues essentially replaced the former Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League, Bay Shore Athletic League and Hayward Area Athletic League.
The TCAL Rock and WACC Foothill are the so-called "A" divisions, featuring the top teams from those leagues.
The WACC Foothill race figures to be particularly exciting as it brings together the defending champions of the three now-defunct leagues in Berkeley (ACCAL), Encinal (BSAL) and Bishop O'Dowd (HAAL). That league also includes Castro Valley, Hayward and San Leandro.
"I'm excited for sure," Encinal coach Joe Tenorio said. "I'm just ready for good competition every week."
The TCAL Rock blends three former members of the Bay Football League. Salesian is a full-time TCAL member and Berean Christian and Valley Christian have joined the league for football.
"I think there are a lot of exciting things about it," Salesian coach Chad Nightingale said. "Our kids know each other. These are kids in our backyard, so there's a familiarity. Our parents like the fact that we don't have to travel as far."
Nightingale points out a negative, saying that his school is now in a league in which it has the smallest enrollment. The Rock Division has five Division IV schools -- the three former BFL teams along with St. Mary's and St. Patrick-St. Vincent -- and also has a Division II school in Pinole Valley and a Division III school in El Cerrito.
The "B" leagues, the TCAL's Stone Division and the WACC's Shoreline Leagues, should provide opportunities to compete for teams who have generally struggled against the top competition.
The winners of those leagues still earn automatic berths to the North Coast Section playoffs, but a new NCS rule limits all league champions to only having rights to host a game in the first round. Afterward, seeds will determine which team is the host.
The trickle down effect of these leagues meant the BFL's remaining teams -- California School for the Deaf, Emery and St. Elizabeth -- joined the North Central II League. Stellar Prep, a new varsity program in Hayward, also joined the NCL II. Moreau Catholic joined the Mission Valley Athletic League.
Even James Logan felt a major impact. The new setup created five-game league schedules in the WACC, granting teams more nonleague scheduling flexibility. Without that, Colts coach George Zuber said it wouldn't have been realistic for his team to go independent this season.