The 16-school league will split into three divisions beginning the 2018-19 athletic cycle.
The newly formed South Puget Sound League 2A approved a realignment.
Beginning with the 2018-19 athletic seasons, the 16-school league will divide into three divisions for sports aside from football. A tweak was made to the current two-division SPSL 2A football league, moving Renton to what is called the Mountain Division and Evergreen to the Sound.
The changes, which were approved by the schools’ principals Monday, were primarily made to ease travel. Participating schools stretch from Seattle to Tacoma.
“Logistically, we felt we could keep this league intact,” said White River athletic director Chris Gibson, who’s the SPSL 2A president. “We enjoy being together but could make some more geographical decisions when it came to school placement.”
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Gibson said the name of the third division has yet to be determined, but there will still be a “Mountain” and “Sound.” The groupings will be Renton, Lindbergh, Foster, Tyee, Highline, and Evergreen in one division. Foss, Fife, River Ridge, Steilacoom, and Clover Park will form another. Orting, Eatonville, White River, Franklin Pierce and Washington are the final division.
In terms of scheduling, the division schools would play each other twice and then play crossovers with the other divisions to reach the maximum number of games allowed according to Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) rules. Teams would then play a mini league tournament to determine which advance to the West Central District tournaments.
For football, athletic directors wanted to form performance-based tiered divisions similar to the Metro League where the top teams play each other on a two-year cycle. Teams would move up or down depending on record.
Principals did not approve the proposal, but agreed to swap Renton and Evergreen to balance competition. The latter hasn’t won a league game since 2014 while Renton’s play has fluctuated.
“We were looking at student safety and trying to get rid of the 65-0 game,” Gibson said. “But (school principals) didn’t see the advantages of going away from status quo. They felt the talent level doesn’t change much from year to year.”
SPSL 2A expanded in 2016 after the disbandment of the 3A/2A Seamount League with the agreement it would be evaluated after two years. The realignment could make scheduling tricky for some sports, but the benefits outweighed that inconvenience, according to Gibson.
“It’s less missed class time and earlier nights back home for some kids,” he said. “In today’s world, transportation costs are a concern. So, this makes more sense.”