New Schools Ready to Line Up (Updated)

Experienced, winning coaches may get some first-year varsity football programs out to a flying start. Other new schools around the state are just opening their doors while still more are in the planning stages.

If you want a blueprint how to open a comprehensive public high school and start up a successful athletic program, look no further than Martin Luther King High of Riverside. King won a CIF Division II state title in boys basketball last March and was nationally-ranked in softball before a senior class had even graduated.

Not every school has a former CIF section commissioner as its principal -- which King does with Ray Plutko, who hired a very strong coaching staff to get the school's teams off on the right foot -- but some new schools who are beginning brand-new varsity football teams this fall are certainly doing so with coaches who already know how to win.

At Chino Hills High, the new school in the Chino Valley Unified School District, head coach Terry Roche is the same man who started Diamond Bar so strongly in the mid-1980s. In fact, Roche had a 14-0 season at Diamond Bar in 1984 and had another 14-0 squad at Diamond Bar just three seasons ago.

At Buhach Colony High, which will be the second high school in the Merced County town of Atwater, the Thunder will be led by former Atwater coach George Sziraki. He guided Atwater to three straight appearances in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I championship game from 1996-98. And Buhach Colony isn't messing around with some small school in its first-ever game, either. On Sept. 13, the Thunder will meet Miramonte of Orinda, the defending CIF North Coast Section East Bay 2A champs and one of the top teams in the Bay Area.

Both Chino Hills and Buhach Colony opened their doors last fall and Buhach Colony was reported with at least one JV football score.

The normal procedure for a new school is to open with freshmen and sophomores, play sports the first year at the JV level in most sports (especially football) and go all-out varsity in the second year even though there are no seniors yet on campus.

In addition to Chino Hills and Buhach Colony, a statewide search of school district web sites and follow up calls revealed other new schools in their second year of existence that will be starting up varsity football this fall. The list includes Steele Canyon of Spring Valley (San Diego Section), Arroyo Valley of San Bernardino (Southern Section), Tesoro of Las Flores (Southern Section), Pacifica of Oxnard (Southern Section), Rodriguez of Cordelia (Sac-Joaquin Section), Waterford (Sac-Joaquin Section) and Hercules (North Coast Section).

West Campus Johnson of Sacramento is also going with its own separate athletic teams this school year and will be a new member of the Sac-Joaquin Section. In the past, West Campus students all played on teams at Johnson High.

There are an equal number of new schools around the state that are opening their doors for the first time this fall and will all likely have JV football teams this season. That list includes Liberty of Madera (Central Section), El Diamante of Visalia (Central Section), Pitman of Turlock (Sac-Joaquin Section), Franklin of Elk Grove (Sac-Joaquin Section), Evergreen Valley of San Jose (Central Coast Section), Vista Del Lago of Moreno Valley (Southern Section), Colony of Ontario (Southern Section), Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga (Southern Section), Nipomo of Arroyo Grande (Southern Section) and WestView of San Diego (San Diego Section).

In the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, they also are re-opening Palos Verdes High to give the district two high schools instead of just Peninsula. In 1991, Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and Miraleste were all consolidated to form Peninsula. We don't know whether any former Rolling Hills students are upset that Palos Verdes has been reborn or whether there's much of a movement to have Peninsula renamed back to Rolling Hills.

Looking even further down the road, to the fall of 2003, it's not too early to get a list going of new schools that probably will have varsity football teams by the 2004 season. In Bakersfield, the Kern County High School District will be opening up its fifth high school in 10 years (perhaps an unprecedented growth cycle of any community in state history), when Golden Valley High is ready for business. San Diego County will add one more to the fold with San Ysidro of Otay Mesa, the Murrieta Valley Unified School District will open its second high school (Vista Murrieta), and an as yet unnamed school in Placer County in Foresthill will open.

Beckman High of Tustin Ranch (Southern Section) has been scheduled to open in 2003 as well, but it's likely that delays will make that impossible. Fall 2004 now seems most likely for Beckman's beginning.

Checking out even more school districts around the state shows some 2004 new high school projects that should be complete. Rosemont High of Sacramento, which will be the first new school in the Sacramento City School District since the 1960s, tops that list. There also is scheduled to be W.A. Carter High of Rialto, Golden Valley of Santa Clarita (why didn't the Bakersfield and Santa Clarita folks get together and realize they were both giving new schools the same name?) plus unnamed schools in the San Dieguito Unified High School District of Encinitas and in the Antelope/Roseville area of Placer County.

We first got on this kick of trying to find out as many new school projects around the state as possible when a controversial school board meeting in Stockton was recently held to name new schools. The Stockton Unified School District hasn't had a new high school since A.A. Stagg was built in the 1950s and the name of the new school came down to Stockton High or Cesar Chavez High.

We initially thought the decision to pick Chavez was purely political, especially since conservatives on the board were able to push through an elementary school named after current president George W. Bush. We also really liked the idea of Stockton High being reborn. After all, the old school had a terrific athletic tradition that has been lost over the years. But after compiling the list of all the new high schools going up around the state we realized that there hasn't been a single Cesar Chavez on the horizon yet, especially in the Central Valley where the legendary farm labor union leader made a name for himself. No ground has yet been broken for Chavez High, so we figure the target date to open will be September 2005.

Speaking of naming a school after a person, there is expected to be a new high school built soon in the Orange County community of Yorba Linda. This will ease the overcrowding currently going on at Esperanza of Anaheim. Why not Richard M. Nixon? It would certainly be a controversial pick, but the former president is buried in Yorba Linda and was born in nearby Whittier. Naming a high school for him isn't political it's to show the young people of Yorba Linda that someone from their town once made it all the way to the most powerful office in the world. In fact, Nixon is the only U.S. president from a California high school.

Other new schools to look for are in the works for Manteca (Weston Ranch area); Santa Clarita (after Golden Valley in 2004, there will be West Ranch in 2005); Rocklin (to go with current Rocklin High); Watsonville (already announced it will be called New Millenium); Elk Grove (which will be the eighth high school in the district); Woodland (to go with current Woodland High); and Yuba City (to go with current Yuba City High).

More and more Central Valley towns are doing the split -- one high school communities becoming two -- and we wouldn't be surprised to see Davis, Ceres, Galt and Delano soon join the likes of Madera, Turlock, Atwater, Tracy, Tulare, Clovis, Porterville and Vacaville as towns who've done it. The southern Santa Clara County towns of Gilroy and Morgan Hill both can't have one high school forever, either. In fact, a new realignment in the Central Coast Section for the Tri-County League leaves room for a second high school in Morgan Hill. There also is the probability that Salinas will have a fifth public high school in the near future.

With all of these new schools, we have one request. Will one of you somewhere, anywhere come up with a mascot or nickname that isn't boring and unoriginal? This season alone, we're getting at least three Titans plus Cougars, Hawks, Huskies and Tritons. There's two Wolverines on the way plus another Wildcats and a Grizzlies. Vista Del Lago has the best new nickname, Ravens, and Buhach Colony would have had a strong one with Thunder, except that Rocklin High (also of the Sac Joaquin Section) already stole it. The soon to be opened second high school in Rocklin will no doubt be called Lightning.

Note: Ship us an e-mail to mark@studentsports.com if you know of a new school in the works where you live that we didn't mention.


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