New NPSL debuts this fall

With fall sports practices under way, local athletic directors say the North Puget Sound League 4A is ready for its debut.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, August 26, 2016 3:21pm
  • Sports
The Kent-Meridian High School football team prepares for its first game of the season. The Royals and the other Kent high schools will compete in the North Puget Sound League this year.

The Kent-Meridian High School football team prepares for its first game of the season. The Royals and the other Kent high schools will compete in the North Puget Sound League this year.

By Chris Chancellor

With fall sports practices under way, local athletic directors say the North Puget Sound League 4A is ready for its debut.

Programs from three leagues – South Puget Sound League 3A and 4A and the Seamount League – combined to resurrect the NPSL, which disbanded in 1990.

The 16-team league was divided into separate divisions in February. The Olympic Division will feature Auburn, Auburn Mountainview, Auburn Riverside, Decatur, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Thomas Jefferson and Todd Beamer. Kent-Meridian, Kentlake, Kentridge and Kentwood will join Hazen, Kennedy Catholic, Mount Rainier and Tahoma in the Cascade.

“Our biggest challenge was how we were going to format 16 teams into divisions,” Kent School District athletic director Dave Lutes said. “We came to the conclusion that we were going to keep the district schools together.”

As far as football is concerned, divisional play will occur between the third and ninth weeks of the season. Teams also were allowed to maintain some historical rivalries during the first two weeks. For example, Auburn and Kent-Meridian will play Sept. 2 for the Taylor Trophy. One of the state’s oldest rivalries began on an annual basis in 1908.

Auburn School District athletic director Rob Swaim said scheduling was the biggest challenge NPSL 4A officials encountered. That is because several school districts have multiple teams sharing one venue. For that reason, Swaim said there will be several Thursday night games throughout the season. The first is Sept. 1 when Kentridge plays Thomas Jefferson at French Field.

The fall format for other sports, such as girls soccer and volleyball, will look similar to the past for several schools with many league games on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Lutes said much of the other work, including the creation of a league handbook, operating procedures and a treasury, was completed in June.

Some of the remaining work, Swaim said, relates to how many playoff seeds NPSL 4A athletes and teams will receive in the playoffs. He anticipates that being discussed when West Central District officials meet in September.

“Football is pretty consistent,” Swaim said. “It’s the other sports we have to work on to make sure we protect our berths.”

Lutes said the impetus for the move was the potential size of SPSL 4A. With the possible additions of the Auburn public schools, Kennedy Catholic and Sumner, that league could have grown from 17 to 22 members.

“With the reclassification this last year, it became obvious the SPSL was going to be too big, and we needed to reform the North Puget Sound League,” said Lutes, adding that the formation of the league will reduce travel and lost class time. “I’m excited looking forward. I think this league was formed on the right premise. All these North schools stay together. I think it forms a sense of community and rivalries.”

As of the Jan. 6 WIAA enrollment count, Auburn (1,202) was the largest high school in the district, followed by Auburn Riverside (1,179) and Auburn Mountainview (1,095). They are among the 12 of the 16-team NPSL 4A that opted up from 3A.

Tahoma (1,712) is the NPSL’s largest member, followed by Kentridge (1,548), Kent-Meridian (1,506) and Kentwood (1,438).

Schools with the top 16 to 17 percent enrollment are recognized as 4A.

Kentlake (1,019) was the only Kent school that opted up.

The next reclassification will be for the 2020-21 school year, but NPSL 4A could adjust its divisions before than.

“We’re going to be in this format for two years and then we’re going to reevaluate it,” Lutes said. “It’s going to be based on the experience we have during these next two years.”


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