George Watkins: Equity league kicks off, for better or worse

George Watkins: Equity league kicks off, for better or worse

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George Watkins: Equity league kicks off, for better or worse

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The Great Experiment — officially called the equity league — is about to begin.

The equity league system is still something of a novelty to Monterey County. It was used in a few sports last year, but it’ll make its biggest splash this year with the start of league play for prep football this weekend.

The equity league concept has been well documented, but here it is again in a nutshell. The seven big-school Tri-County Athletic League teams were merged with the medium-school Monterey Bay League to form one league divided into two divisions.

Upper division teams — or at least those thought to be the strongest according to the Board of Managers (administrators from all 14 schools) — were placed in MBL Gabilan Division. The other seven were lumped into the MBL Pacific Division.

With one, maybe two exceptions, the decisions made seemed to make sense. But the one head scratcher was a beauty. And it makes even less sense now then it did about eight months ago when the final placement of teams was approved.

Let’s just say the best play Seaside has made all year came before the season began when it was inexplicably placed in the weaker of the two divisions. If I’m ever in a negotiating session I want Seaside on my side.

On the other hand, there are probably a lot of Gabilan Division teams breathing a big sigh of relief that Seaside wasn’t placed where it belonged.

Gilroy is another Gabilan Division team that might have been misplaced. Its had three consecutive losing records, only one marquee player returning (Brandon Boyd, currently out with a separated shoulder) and a roster that has been shrinking with no end in sight ever since the opening of Christopher High three years ago. Looks like Monte Vista Christian pulled a fast one, too.

And let’s not even begin to bring up the Alvarez situation again. To put it in perspective think about this: Since 2004 Seaside has won nearly as many Central Coast Section playoff games (10) as Alvarez has total wins (12).

Yet, somehow Alvarez went up and Seaside went down.

Go figure.

Just to rub it in the lower level Pacific Division holds a 4-1 advantage over Gabilan Division teams in head-to-head competition this season.

But considering the equity league system was a first for everyone, mistakes were probably bound to happen. The realignment process was a sitting duck for us Monday morning quarterbacks.

That being the case we’ll give all involved a flier on Year No. 1.

Like it or not, fair or foul, right or wrong there’s no turning back now. The good news is that the leagues can be adjusted after just one year, rather than the standard two.

Besides, the equity league gives us Palma-Monterey on Friday, and you’ve got to love that matchup.

So bring it on, equity league.

Last week’s record, 7-4. Season record, 18-12.

Here are the predictions for games this weekend involving Monterey County teams.

Who: Alvarez (0-4) vs. Christopher (0-4) at Gilroy High

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: Christopher 26, Alvarez 13

Fact: First meeting between teams

Who: Stevenson (2-0) at Soledad (1-2)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: Soledad 28, Stevenson 18

Fact: Stevenson leads series, 8-5. Soledad won last year, 39-14.

Who: Gonzales (0-3) vs. Marina (0-2) at MPC

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: Gonzales 27, Marina 20

Fact: One of four touchdowns Marina scored all of last year came against Gonzales.

Who:
North County (2-1) at Seaside (3-0)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: Seaside 32, North County 14

Fact: North County will try to beat Seaside for the third time in a row. Last time the Condors did that was 1995, 1996, 1997.

Who:
Gilroy (1-3) at Salinas (1-2)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: Salinas 23, Gilroy 17

Fact: Salinas beat Gilroy four times in a row from 2001-2004. Gilroy beat Salinas four times in row again from 2005-2008. Salinas can make it four wins in a row over Gilroy with a win this time.

Who:
Palma (1-2) at Monterey (3-0)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: Palma 28, Monterey 24

Fact: Palma beat Monterey six straight times from 1998-2003, and as far as our research department can tell those are the only years the two teams have played each other. The Toreadores trying for first 4-0 start since 2004.

Who: Greenfield (1-2) at Pacific Grove (2-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: Greenfield 23, Pacific Grove 21

Fact: Pacific Grove leads series, 10-2. Greenfield had its two-game win streak against Pacific Grove end last year, 20-10.

Who: Alisal (3-1) at Watsonville (1-2)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: Alisal 24, Watsonville 20

Fact: First meeting between teams since 1981. Alisal beat Watsonville in that game, 9-7.

Who: Pajaro Valley (1-3) vs. North Salinas (1-2) at Sports Complex

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Prediction: North Salinas 31, Pajaro Valley 13

Fact: First-ever meeting between the two schools

Who: King City (1-2) at Carmel (2-1)

When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Prediction: Carmel 33, King City 20

Fact: Carmel is 11-6 vs. King City in last 17 years. In the last four years Carmel has out-scored King City, 214-55.

* George Watkins is a sports writer for the Salinas Californian. He can be reached at gwatkins@thecalifornian.com or 754-4264.

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