Potential exit of two private schools from Cascade Conference could mean Cedarcrest might need to look elsewhere for league affiliation

There is a major story developing concerning Cedarcrest High School and the future of its athletics program. There is a possibility that the school may have to look for a new league to call home starting next school year.

The South Whidbey Record, the newspaper that covers Cedarcrest’s Cascade Conference rival South Whidbey High School in Langley, is reporting that two of the conference’s private schools, King’s and Cedar Park Christian, have applied for membership into the 1A Emerald City League. The Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal viewed meeting minutes for both the Northwest and SeaKing Districts yesterday from their August board meetings, which are both available for public review online, which showed that both district boards have been made aware of this.

If the two schools do get admitted into the ECL, which is a primarily private-school league which also includes Redmond’s Overlake School and Bellevue’s Forest Ridge School among others, they would be leaving the Cascade Conference, dropping that league to just five members and perhaps resulting in its dissolution at the end of this school year, forcing Cedarcrest and the remaining schools to look elsewhere for league membership.

While it has been stressed that nothing has been made official yet, and this process will take some time as there would need to be approval from both the ECL and SeaKing District boards for this move to take place, the potential exit of the two private schools from the conference – and potential dissolution of the remainder of the league – could have CHS and Riverview School District officials, including district Superintendent Anthony Smith, school Principal Ray LaBate and athletic director Jason Frederick, needing to explore possible league alignments for CHS for next school year and beyond.

There are some potential options for Cedarcrest. Here’s a look at two of the major options.

Kingco: The Kingco Conference would provide Cedarcrest with a return to a league they previously called home for several years from 1997-2004 before briefly joining Wesco as it made a return back to the Cascade, which they have been part of for 10 years now. CHS would be paired with 2A Liberty and Sammamish in the Kingco, along with 3A Bellevue, Mercer Island, Interlake, Redmond, Juanita and Lake Washington. The school has familiarity with a number of these schools already, with the girls’ soccer and volleyball teams having played Sammamish already, and soccer playing Interlake this afternoon.

The Northwest District’s RPI formula gives bonus consideration for league wins over 3A schools, so a move to Kingco could benefit Cedarcrest in that way. Travel, however, especially for the Bellevue schools and MI to Cedarcrest, could be an issue; it was an issue in CHS’ exit from the league a dozen years ago.

2A football teams in the Kingco are playing a modified independent schedule, so a move to Kingco for CHS football would see them likely playing some Metro 2A’s in football, so competitive balance concerns may not be as big an issue as they might seem. That said, Red Wolve fans could find a move concerning, especially if that schedule does end up having them play a 3A school such as Bellevue, Mercer Island or Redmond in order to get those bonus playoff points.

Other programs would face mixed futures in a 2A/3A Kingco league. The girls’ soccer program would benefit from the tougher league competition, but wins would no longer be a guarantee as they have been against much of the Cascade the past two years. Softball and baseball could also benefit from the tougher competition.

A move to Kingco would also need both conference and SeaKing approval, as the school would have to re-join the SeaKing District from the Northwest District in order for a move to take place.

Wesco: In the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years, the Red Wolves played within the Wesco Conference, so a move back here would also see them go back to a league where they have some familiarity. The Wesco is a Snohomish County-centric league, but there are schools (Shorewood, Shorecrest) in King County. Travel would be similar in distance for CHS and other schools to Kingco, but may be a bit easier for Cedarcrest to deal with as opposed to potential travel in Kingco. As they would be just a second 2A school in the Wesco 2A/3A league, joining Mountlake Terrace, there would be additional 3A teams in the league. The league currently has 13 members, so CHS could make it 14 schools and likely result in divisional play for the Wesco should Cedarcrest apply and get admitted. The playoff RPI bonus would also be a big selling point in going to Wesco.

Unlike in Kingco, the football team would be playing within Wesco if the school went this direction, so competitive balance concerns could crop up for the Red Wolves as a result.

With respect to other sports, as is the case in Kingco, their futures would be mixed perhaps as a result again because of much tougher league competition than is the case in the Cascade.

Also, unlike with Kingco, a move to Wesco would only require league approval, which may be a challenge considering the large number of schools already in the league and potential divisional split that could result from a CHS addition.

The school could also explore playing as an independent, but that would require the school and district to commit to scheduling all of their games themselves, which could result in very long travel for Red Wolves teams with no guarantee that competitive balance could be assured.

Again, as noted, and which has been stressed to us, there is nothing official that has been decided yet. The process for the two private schools would involve both schools going before the Emerald City League to make their case for why they should be allowed in, and the league would likely make site visits to both schools to assess quality of programs and especially facilities before making a decision. Again, as noted, that is expected to take some time.

There is, also, a possibility the conference could try to make a go with five teams or perhaps merge with the Northwest Conference to have a full 1A/2A setup in the Northwest District involving all of those schools. If you remember, there was discussion out of the Archbishop Murphy football fiasco last fall that the district had explored a football scheduling mechanism that would have had all the 1A and 2A schools within the district playing one another as opposed to the leagues; this could entail that being across all sports. This scenario would result in additional travel for CHS and not allow for any RPI bonuses against 3A or 4A opponents unless that bonus were applied for non-conference games.

The coming weeks will certainly see discussion at the highest levels of school administration at CHS, the Riverview School District, and in the league about moving forward if the two private schools do leave the Cascade. However, we are opening the floor now for you to chime in. If you are a Cedarcrest sports parent or fan, what would you like to see the school and district do if King’s and CPC leave? Email us at snovalleysports@gmail.com or post in our comments section.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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