Sports

Narrows League overhaul approved

New Narrows League gets the thumbs up from administrators

11-team league still needs some tweaking but most parties seem happy with new lineups

By JEFF WILSON

Sports Editor

As expected, school administrators on Wednesday approved a plan in the works for the last four months, transforming the Narrows League into a new 11-team Class 4A league beginning this fall.

Athletic directors from the 11 member schools submitted the plan last week and it won approval at a meeting at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma. The new format shrinks the league from 16 to 11 teams.

“What’s funny is, back in October or November, this is what we thought it might look like,” South Kitsap athletic director Ed Santos said. “And it pretty much fell out that way.”

The size of the league isn’t the only thing that will change. Many sports could and will see major changes in not only scheduling but the process of gaining playoff berths.

The biggest switch comes in the look and layout of the league. There will still be two divisions, a Bridge and a Bay, but the designations will have more to do with enrollment numbers than geography.

The new Bridge division will consist of South Kitsap, Gig Harbor, Wilson, Foss and Lincoln while the Bay will include North Kitsap, Central Kitsap, Stadium, Mount Tahoma, Bellarmine Prep and Olympia.

Former Narrows League members Bremerton, Olympic and Port Angeles are dropping down to Class 3A and will join a reconstituted Olympic League, while Capital and Shelton will join a new 3A South Sound League.

Some of the particulars are still in the works, but for now team sports such as football, baseball, basketball and fastpitch will play in a two-division format. Individual sports, like swimming, tennis, golf, wrestling and track and field, will use follow a single-league format.

At this point, soccer is still up in air as far as which formula it will follow.

“The basic philosophy of the ADs was that we would try to do everything as one league whenever possible,” Santos said. “Whenever schedules permit a non-divisional schedule, we’ll do that.”

What this basically means is individual sports will have a league schedule in which they face the 10 other teams in the league once, while baseball, fastpitch and basketball will play each team in its division twice while facing each team in the other division once.

Soccer could follow either format, but there is also the possibility of a season-ending tournament to decide playoff seeding — a tournament that for now could include all 11 teams.

“It’s hard to comment until they really have things set in stone,” South boy’s soccer coach Eric Bergeson said of the new league. “The league is different and I have a lot of respect for that other division, especially the teams in the top half of it. There are going to be some very difficult teams to get past, so the road to the playoffs will be more challenging.”

Bergeson said he doesn’t favor a proposed league tournament at the end of the season but said he would reserve judgment until all the details had been ironed out.

Football, however, would work a completely different way.

Each team will begin the season with two non-league games of their picking, leaving open the possibility of traditional rivals continuing to playing each other, while week three would see a crossover game between the two divisions, leaving out one team from the Bay.

For the Bay Division, the following five weeks would be against division opponents, while the Bridge would play four weeks of division games and then take a bye week that would be filled with a game against a team from the Class 3A South Sound League.

Week nine would see another cross-over game between the two divisions, this time to decide the seeding for the preliminary round of the state playoffs.

In the final week, the top team from each division would play for the Narrows League title and the top two seeds.

Both No. 2 teams would face off to decide the third and fourth seeds, while the third-place teams in each division would play in a loser-out winner to preliminary round game.  

Week 10 would be the state preliminary play-in game.

“There are a couple things I like about it,” south football coach D.J. Sigurdson said. “I like the way the schedule breaks down. I like that we’re going to have a game (each year) against a good opponent outside of our league and I also like that we’re going to have a championship, a true Narrows League champion.

“I think we have the best of both worlds,” Sigurdson said. “We get to maintain the Narrows League but it’s kind of a nice change-up because you still get to keep your non-league games but get to keep playing some of the same teams you’ve been playing over the years.”

Santos added that there are still some rough spots to be dealt with but now that the basic look of the league is set, those things should work themselves out over the next few months.

Of course, the league could drop to 10 schools in 2008 if North Kitsap drops to Class 3A as expected when the new high school in Kingston opens.

2006 Narrows League

Bridge Division

South Kitsap

Gig Harbor

Wilson

Foss

Lincoln

Bay Division

North Kitsap

Central Kitsap

Stadium

Mount Tahoma

Bellarmine Prep

Olympia

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