St. Mary’s won’t play traditional rivals El Cerrito or DeAnza in football league play this year. Berkeley High won’t play Piedmont or Salesian at all. These historied matchups won’t be happening because of the formation of a new league in the East Bay.
The Bay Shore Athletic League begins play this year, and many rivalries from the East Bay Athletic League, the ACCAL and the Superior Athletic League will have to be played out in non-league matchups.
But that is a small price to pay for BSAL member St. Mary’s, which will now be matched up against teams closer to its own size, between 500 and 600 students.
“It won’t make a big difference for football, but in smaller sports it’ll probably be more fair,” said St. Mary’s athletic director and head football coach Dan Shaughnessy. “We were getting overwhelmed in some sports.”
The BSAL consists of St. Mary’s, Kennedy, Albany, Piedmont, St. Joseph’s, Holy Names, John Swett, St. Patrick-St. Vincent and Salesian.
Berkeley High has moved to the ACCAL from the EBAL. They are now matched up against the biggest schools in the area, such as DeAnza and Alameda, and will have to make certain adjustments.
“The biggest advantage now is there’s less travel, and funny things happen when you travel,” said Berkeley head football coach Gary Weaver. “Now the boys’ and girls’ families can come out and see their kids play more often.”
Weaver said the biggest difference between the EBAL and the ACCAL is the style of play.
“The EBAL teams were more passing-oriented, while the new teams seem to be better running the ball,” he said.
While Berkeley High has less travel, St. Mary’s will have more, thanks to trips to BSAL members Kennedy, John Swett and St. Patrick-St. Vincent.
“We’ll be heading up to Vallejo and out to Swett, but we won’t have any problems with transportation. Mom and Dad will go to Cucuomunga to see the kids play,” Shaughnessy said.
While traditional rivalries may have been put aside during league play, St. Mary’s will still play former league-mates El Cerrito, DeAnza and Pinole Valley in pre-season play.
“We’ve had real good competition with those teams, and formed close bonds,” Shaughnessy said. “We still want to compete against them. Now it’s just for bragging rights.”