Panthers join Bay Shore Athletic League, will face schools closer to their own enrollment.
Well, it’s David versus Goliath no more.
Beginning this in September, St. Mary’s College High School will join the new Bay Shore Athletic League (BSAL), which means it will be competing against schools as small as it is, rather than the huge schools it was matched against in the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League (ACCAL) for the past decade.
But according to St. Mary’s Athletic Director and head football coach Dan Shaughnessy, the old rivalries will still be present, just not necessarily during the regular season.
“We still want to compete against the schools we’ve been playing for the past 10 years,” Shaughnessy said. “It’ll just have to be in non-league games.”
Some of the old rivals came with St. Mary’s to the new league. Holy Names, Kennedy (Richmond), Albany, Piedmont and St. Joseph (Alameda) all made the switch, and all have similar enrollments to St. Mary’s, about 500-600 students. Also joining the BSAL are John Swett (Crockett), St. Patrick - St. Vincent (Vallejo) and Salesian.
But St. Mary’s will no longer be obligated to play schools with gigantic student bodies, such as Berkeley High and El Cerrito High, which have two-to-three times more students than St. Mary’s.
“We’ve always been a small school competing against larger schools,” Shaughnessy said. “Some of our sports were getting overwhelmed in league play, and this should help us get away from that. The new schools are much more aligned with our size.”
The new schedules for St. Mary’s teams will be more of a reshuffling, putting the old league opponents into the non-league schedule in many sports.
“We don’t necessarily want to break our ties with those big schools. We had real good competition with them, and we formed close bonds. Our games with them will still hold bragging rights for the winner,” Shaughnessy said.
St. Mary’s football schedule, for instance, still contains El Cerrito and De Anza, but the Panthers will battle those teams early in the season as a warm-up for their league schedule.
One of the new opponents will be St. Patrick-St. Vincent in Vallejo. Their athletic director said that the new league will be good for the teams and players, as the competition should be fierce.
“It’ll be a very competitive atmosphere and our coaches like that,” said Andrew Strawbridge, who also coaches the men’s basketball team. “We look forward to it with great anticipation. In some sports, like football, we were being overmatched by the larger schools.
“It’ll be good to play against schools that are similar to us as far as size.”
The new league is more far-flung than the ACCAL, and the travel will be more demanding for both St. Mary’s athletes and their parents. St. Patrick-St. Vincent and John Swett are both farther away than any school in the old league. But Shaughnessy said travel shouldn’t get in the way of the teams winning or the parents seeing the games.
“There shouldn’t really be any problems with transportation for the kids, and Mom and Dad will go to Cucamonga to see the kids play,” he said.