Principals will vote on league alignment for SPSL division

There is still hope that the three Class 4A Federal Way high schools will be in the same division of the South Puget Sound League.

The 18-team league is in the midst of a two-year reclassification cycle and are exploring options that could put Federal Way, Thomas Jefferson and Todd Beamer into one division. Currently, Federal Way and Beamer are in the SPSL South, while TJ plays in the SPSL North Division. The Federal Way schools are the only district in the SPSL who play in different divisions.

“As of right now, we are looking at a number of options,” said Beamer athletic director Jerry Peterson. “Our goal has always been to be together.”

The league’s athletic directors met recently and forwarded four recommendations to the league’s principals regarding the league’s alignment during the next two-year cycle, according to Peterson. The SPSL’s principals, who have the final say in the realignment process, should make a decision after the New Year. The new cycle begins during the fall season of 2012.

The first, and most likely, recommendation calls for the two Class 4A divisions to remain the same, which would keep the three Federal Way schools in different divisions.

The three other options recommended by the league’s athletic directors would all have the three Federal Way schools in the same divisions.

Two possible options would include Jefferson moving into the SPSL South and Curtis into the North or the two Auburn schools (Auburn and Auburn Riverside) moving South and Beamer and Federal Way into the North.

The last, and least likely, of the four recommendations would be moving to three divisions in all sports. Currently, sports like golf, swimming, tennis and track feature three divisions. But the alignment would make it difficult for scheduling and postseason berths in sports like football, basketball and baseball/softball, according to Peterson.

The move of the two Auburn schools to the South and Beamer to the North Division seems to make the most sense.

In terms of geography, Auburn and Auburn Riverside are located south of the two Federal Way schools and closer to Highway 167, which is the main freeway leading to a bulk of the SPSL South schools in Graham, Spanaway and Puyallup.

But officials in Auburn and Kent, which has four schools in the North Division, have cited the tradition of the two cities competing against each other as a reason for not moving Auburn and Auburn Riverside south.

The four high schools in the Federal Way school district, which also includes Decatur, haven’t played in the same division of the SPSL since the 2005-06 school year.

“We haven’t played TJ in football in years,” Peterson said. “We want those inner-city rivalries resumed. Our message has always been consistent. We would like to be in the same division.”

Decatur will remain in the SPSL’s 3A Division, according to the school’s athletic director Rex Tucker. The 3A Division will remain the same during the next two-year cycle with Decatur, Auburn Mountainview, Lakes, Peninsula, Bonney Lake and Enumclaw.

During the last two-year reclassification cycle in 2009, Federal Way High School appealed the SPSL principal’s decision that forced either Federal Way or Thomas Jefferson to move from the SPSL North Division into the league’s South Division. Federal Way was eventually forced to move in the South.

Recently, there had been some talk about five of the six 4A Narrows League schools applying for membership in the SPSL, according to Peterson. But it doesn’t look like that will happen, he said. Bellarmine Prep, Central Kitsap, Gig Harbor, Olympia and South Kitsap applied for membership to the SPSL, but are now expected to withdraw their applications.



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