In a little over a month, the Diablo Athletic League will debut and Alhambra will take its place among the 12-team league that has been split into two conferences.
The move was made as part of an initiative to restore competitive equity to all sports in the region. Teams from both the Diablo Foothill Athletic League and Diablo Valley Athletic League will be pitted against each other in the new league. Teams have been assigned spots in their respective conferences to balance them out competitively.
Those changes will have significant repercussions for Alhambra teams, assuredly more good than bad.
For example, in tennis, the Bulldog girls will move into a conference where they will play against Berean Christian, Clayton Valley Charter, Concord, Mt.Diablo and Ygnacio Valley. Traditionally, all those schools have tennis programs that are suited to play against the Bulldogs and will breed more competitive matches compared to the tough DFAL, which the Bulldog tennis team has struggled in recent history.
In football, the Bulldogs will move into a conference where they no longer have to play the likes of Campolindo, who never lost a league game in the DFAL. Instead they’ll get to line up against rival College Park every year, and have the benefit of playing Mt.Diablo and Ygnacio Valley, both teams who have struggled recently.
While the debate can continue about whether a weaker conference schedule could hurt a team going into the playoffs, the Bulldogs have balanced their schedule by lining up matches against former DFAL foes Miramonte, Acalanes and Las Lomas in the preseason.
Water polo will also benefit from the turnaround of the league, as they no longer have to face powerhouse programs like Miramonte, Campolindo and Acalanes once a year. Miramonte, who has won seven out of the last 10 NCS Division I titles, will be slotted into a league with Northgate, Campolindo, Las Lomas and Acalanes. Of the five teams in the Valley Conference, each has won an NCS title in the last five years.
In the Foothill Conference, only Alhambra has collected NCS medals in the last five years.
The only sports in which Alhambra has been sorted into the “top tier” schools are the ones in which the school has seen the most recent success.
The girls soccer team will continue to see the likes of Campolindo and Miramonte during their league campaigns. The Bulldogs have had classic showdowns over the last few years with both teams. They will also welcome a tough rival College Park team into the mix, again another school that will make it so that no match up in league will be a “gimme” for any of the six teams in the Valley Conference.
In wrestling, the Bulldogs will continue to face off with powerhouse Las Lomas in the top tier division, but will also welcome the rival College Park Falcons and Clayton Valley Charter Eagles into the mix. The Falcons claimed two NCS titles in the last 10 years, while Las Lomas has owned the Division II crown for the past two years.
The softball team, fresh off a third straight Division II crown, will face a lot of changes in the coming year. Not only will they move into a conference with Clayton Valley and Concord, but they will also move into Division I after another restructuring sees them move up for the second time in the last five years. A tougher league campaign should keep the girls sharp for possible match ups against Division I powers like Amador Valley, Foothill, James Logan and reigning-champion Freedom in possible playoff match ups.
Similarly, the boys on the diamond will also continue to play tough opponents in their conference. Miramonte and Las Lomas will no longer be on the schedule, but the Dogs will now have to contend with Clayton Valley and College Park twice a year while still having to face the likes of Acalanes and Campolindo.
Acalanes and College Park have both won NCS titles in the last five years, while Campolindo is rebuilding off a run of four straight titles from 2010-2013. The Cougars, however, did knock Alhambra out of the playoffs last May in the first round of NCS.
While the restructuring will leave some teams with tough league schedules, the hope is that at the Bulldog house it will also lead to more entertaining sports action. Lopsided scores should be a thing of the past, and with it the action on the Alhambra fields should be here to stay.