The Central Section, in the most ambitious expansion of its 100-year history Tuesday morning, accepted 12 Central Coast schools into its membership, effective fall 2018.
The incorporation, as approved unanimously by 43 members of the section board of managers at the Veterans Memorial Building in Porterville, adds a range of Division I, II and III public and private schools from Paso Robles to the north and Santa Maria to the south.
113 Schools in the Central Section come fall 2018
The public schools: Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley-Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, Righetti-Santa Maria, Nipomo, Morro Bay, Templeton, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Orcutt Academy is another possibility, but the Spartans play eight-man football and that presents a snag.
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The private schools: St. Joseph’s-Santa Maria and Mission Prep-Arroyo Grande.
The incoming schools will form their own leagues but participate in Central Section playoffs as opposed to the Southern Section.
The move comes four years after the section added five small-division schools from the Southern Section’s High Desert League – Kern Valley-Lake Isabella, Bishop, Frazier Mountain-Lebec, California City and Rosamond.
That arrangement required the High Desert League schools to travel, regardless of seeding, for their first three years in the Central Section. But the coast schools will come aboard without travel restrictions, said section associate commissioner Jeff Cardoza: “They would not have come with them.”
The latest expansion – increasing the section to 113 schools – was facilitated largely by former Central High administrators Chris Williams and Rich Clayton.
The coast schools have long expressed a desire to join the Central Section. But it was Williams and Clayton, now the superintendent and athletic director of Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, who tied the ribbon by educating the coast schools on the Central Section operation.
Administrators from the section and incoming schools cite multiple benefits for the alliance.
The coast schools favor it primarily for travel and competitiveness. Driving deep into Southern California was an inconvenience and competing in the 574-member Southern Section – more than double the size of any of the state’s 10 sections and accounting for 37 percent of the state schools alone – was often overwhelming.
The Central Section sees this as a remedy to a longtime shortage of D-I schools in the playoffs, often creating first-round byes and rematches of schools from the same league. For example, Clovis and Clovis West from the Tri-River Athletic Conference played in a football quarterfinal in the fall two weeks after having opposed each other in league.
Among the incoming coast schools, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and Righetti are D-I caliber and Atascadero is also a possibility.
Quinn bolts Clovis North – The nomadic football coaching journey of Casey Quinn has found the most bizarre turn yet – leaving Clovis North after one season for McFarland.
“All I have to say is this is bigger than football,” he said. “I’ve got to think about Casey Quinn, family and friends.”
Clovis North athletic director Coby Lindsey, who spent considerable time with Quinn before hiring him last spring, said he “had no idea” this was coming.
Left to process in the Central Section football fraternity:
▪ Quinn leaves the newest of five high schools from the nationally acclaimed Clovis Unified District, a booming school of 2,400 students at International and Willow avenues on the Fresno/Clovis northern border, to 850-student McFarland in Kern County.
▪ He shifts, in football at least, from the state-revered Division I Clovis North of the TRAC to D-VI McFarland of the East Sierra League.
▪ McFarland hasn’t had a winning football season since 2004.
▪ All this from a coach who has shifted from Central to Roosevelt to Chavez to Clovis North and, now, to McFarland in nine years.
Six months ago, during an interview in his Clovis North office, Quinn said: “I’m going to be a Bronco until the end of the deal, until I’m done coaching.”
Then, Saturday, he called Lindsey at 9 a.m.: “I’ve accepted a job at McFarland.”
Lindsey, dumbfounded, responded: “OK, good luck. And, in 45 minutes, I had reopened my file, calling people and moving forward. And we have a lot of interest from afar and near.”
A statement from Clovis Unified said Quinn resigned Monday. Quinn said he was on campus at McFarland that day and will teach physical education immediately.
With the Broncos, he went 2-3 in the TRAC and 6-6 overall – the program’s first non-winning record since going 5-7 with its first class of seniors in 2010.
All I have to say is this is bigger than football/ I’ve got to think about Casey Quinn, family and friends.
Casey Quinn, former Clovis North football coach who left for McFarland
“This is not a reflection of Clovis North and Clovis Unified,” he said. “It just was not the right timing. The kids are awesome and the administration has awesome people and strong leaders. It’s a place I thought I wanted to be as a football coach. But, as a man, you know, the timing’s not right.”
Coming aboard to the Central Section
- Santa Maria
- Pioneer Valley-Santa Maria
- Arroyo Grande
- Righetti-Santa Maria
- Morro Bay
- San Luis Obispo
- Paso Robles
- St. Joseph’s-Santa Maria
- Mission Prep-Arroyo Grande
- * Orcutt Academy
* – Possible addition