St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy in Downey has joined the Academy League for the 2017 football season, giving the league four teams once again and two automatic berths in the CIF-SS playoffs, according to Crean Lutheran athletic director Eric Olson.
Officials in the Academy League had been working to return the league to a four school-structure after Brethren Christian dropped its varsity football program in July.
The league for football this year will include Crean Lutheran, St. Margaret’s, St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy and Orange Vista of Perris.
Thom Simmons, assistant CIF commissioner, said he had heard from officials in the Academy League and confirmed that the league will have two automatic berths in the CIF playoffs.
“Our boys and all the other boys in the league can control their own football destiny in the playoffs,” said Olson. “So it’s great news.
“A big shoutout goes to (athletic director) Patrick Bendzick at St. Margaret’s. He did a lot of the legwork. I helped support him a little bit. We’re really grateful to him.”
Crean Lutheran went 7-3 last year but was denied a trip to the CIF playoffs because no at-large berths were available in its playoff division. Crean did not have a league affiliation since there were only three teams from the Academy League after Sage Hill dropped its varsity 11-man program, switching to 8-man football.
The Saints figure to have a much better chance of advancing to the playoffs this year.
“We are very happy to be in a four-team league,” said Crean Lutheran football coach Matt Bowman.
Bowman credited Olson and Crean Lutheran executive director and founding principal Jeffrey Beavers for working hard to finalize the arrangements for this season. Crean Lutheran moves to the Empire League in 2018 for all sports.
“We are thrilled that the Academy League has added a fourth team,” Bowman said. “I told the boys this morning and they were very excited. Once again, we control our own playoff destiny,…