Video/The New-Look 209: 5 Large-School Leagues & A Quick Look at Realignment in 2018

Filed in Uncategorized by on January 1, 2018

As we jump into 2018, let’s preview the realignment changes for the 10 leagues in The 209 and what we have to look forward to the next four school years. Here are the five large-school leagues:


Zero impact on football, with St. Mary’s, Lincoln and Tracy maintaining their stranglehold on the top 3 spots in the league … Modesto Christian joins for basketball, though, which elevates the TCAL to the one of the top basketball leagues in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Sorry St. Mary’s … Sorry Lincoln … there’s a new sheriff in town, and Modesto Christian will be your league champion going forward.

Early Predicted Finish: St. Mary’s, Tracy, Lincoln, Tokay, Lodi, West.


The biggest shakeup in The 209 during this realignment cycle, with the city of Modesto’s four largest public high schools joining Turlock’s two high schools – which are among the largest in the Section. Turlock becomes the instant powerhouse with its brand of power football. The other schools here are Pitman of Turlock, and Modesto, Downey, Enochs and Gregori.

It’s a great move for everyone: The Turlock schools had outgrown the Central California Conference and were being pulled down by the lack of success of Merced County football the last few years, while these four Modesto schools needed to separate from the three smaller programs.

Early Predicted Finish: Turlock, Downey, Pitman, Gregori, Modesto, Enochs.


Nothing changes here: Bear Creek, Chavez, Edison, Franklin, McNair, Stagg stay intact – means Stagg enters each season as the team to beat. There’s only only one league that’s more predictable, and that’s the Mother Lode League with kingpin Sonora.

Early Predicted Finish: Stagg, McNair, Edison, Franklin, Chavez, Bear Creek.


One of the three hybrid leagues (the C-CAL & Western Athletic Conference being the others), the new CCC has five Merced County schools (Atwater, Buhach Colony-Atwater, El Capitan-Merced. Golden Valley-Merced, Merced) joined by Patterson and Central Valley (who used to play in the WAC).

Be some fun games with Merced facing Central Valley, Patterson facing Buhach Colony … Patterson has the speed and athleticism to play with Merced County’s best, while Central Valley’s developed a physical program.

Early Predicted Finish: Merced, Patterson, Buhach Colony, Central Valley, Atwater, El Capitan, Golden Valley.


Northern California’s top D3 league, the VOL gets even more difficult with the deprture of Lathrop to the new-look WAC. That means one less guaranteed victory for the league’s Big 3 of Oakdale, Manteca and Central Catholic — who seemingly never lose to a second-tier league school. The good news for the VOL? This gives the Big 3 another opportunity to schedule a significant non-league opponent.

Early Predicted Finish: Manteca, Central Catholic, Oakdale, East Union, Weston Ranch, Sierra, Kimball.


About the Author ()

Richard T. Estrada has been covering high school football in The 209 area code for more than 30 years and is the voice of authority on the game in California's Central Valley. He oversaw The Modesto Bee's high school sports coverage for a couple of decades, and also was a national award-winning business and agriculture writer. Black Hat Football not only covers the game, but emphasizes education and the need for The 209's student-athletes to prepare for college.

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