Looking Ahead To State’s New Schools

The football field at West Park High in Roseville, which is opening officially this week, was integrated impressively into footprint of school design. Photo: David Gershon / SportStars.

It may be in the middle of a pandemic and with no athletic competitions scheduled until January, but there are still new comprehensive high schools officially opening in the state. We found two from the 2019-20 school year that are supposed to have sports for 2020-21, there is one opening this week in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and one next week in the CIF Central Section. Go inside for details, why Liberty High of Brentwood and Del Oro High of Loomis may be getting instant rivals very soon and more on the second high school in California that is named for a beloved football coach.

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Travelers going up and down California on Interstate 5 know the community of Castaic very well. It’s either the last stop before the rise of the Grapevine into the Tehachapi Mountains or it’s the welcome site of coming down the chute and leaving the Grapevine behind.

Castaic has never had its own high school until last August when Castaic High, part of the William S. Hart High School District, opened its doors. The first students, of course, never got to complete their first school year on campus due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic last March and will be starting the 2020-21 school year with distance learning on the computer as well.

Castaic High’s logo shows a Coyote footprint.

At some point soon, though, Castaic will get its students back and at some point soon the Coyotes will officially become members of the California high school sports community when their teams begin interscholastic competition. Castaic’s natural rivals will be the other schools in the district: Hart of Newhall, Canyon of Canyon Country, Saugus, Valencia, West Ranch of Valencia and Golden Valley of Santa Clarita.

Due to the anticipated addition of as many as 3,000 homes in the area in the next few years, Castaic High is projected to eventually reach an enrollment of 2,600.

Former Hart assistant coach Anthony Uebelhardt is Castaic’s first head football coach.

Another school that opened last fall under similar circumstances was Rancho San Juan of Salinas.

That school also is the first new high school to be built in Monterey County in 24 years. It has been talked about for a long time in Salinas, which has had Salinas High, North Salinas, Alisal and Alvarez for many years.

“It sounds kind of cliche to say, but I want to trailblaze a good future for the future students that come here, ” said sophomore Guy Pimentel to radio station KION on opening day last year.

As you might guess, Rancho San Juan will be known as the Trailblazers, a nickname they will share with basketball/football powerhouse Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth.

For the 2020-21 school year, there’s a new school officially opening this week with West Park of Roseville adding its name to the CIF rolls in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

First football coach Jason Tenner was able to work out with some of his players (which will just be freshmen this year) in June, and told our partners from SportStars Magazine the school’s 4,500-seat stadium will be ready to be used once the season does begin.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Tenner said. “The facilities are phenomenal. It’s first-class.”

The Panthers will be joining other high schools in Roseville: Roseville High, Oakmont and Woodcreek. It was just a few years ago when Woodcreek’s boys basketball team played in the CIF Open Division state final.

The CIF Central Section may see the most growth of new schools in the next few years and will get another one opening next week in Madera. It wasn’t that long ago when Madera High was the only one in town. Now there’s Madera South and beginning next week Mathilda Torres High. Torres, which will be known as the Toros, is named in honor of a longtime local educator who died in 2015.

According to a recent story in the Madera Tribune, Torres High will have approximately 850 ninth-grade and 10th grade students in this first school year.

Here are some other new comprehensive public high schools that are slated to be built and opened in either 2021 or 2022:

Justin Garza will forever be remembered for his contributions to the Central Unified School District. Photo: Legacy.com.

Liberty (Menifee) — There is already a Heritage of Menifee, a Heritage of Brentwood and a Liberty of Brentwood. When this school opens in the fall of 2021, there will be a Liberty of Menifee. How about a future football doubleheader with Liberty vs. Liberty and Heritage vs. Heritage?

Twelve Bridges (Lincoln) — This will be the second high school in the rapidly growing Placer County community of Lincoln. Twelve Bridges is slated for a fall 2021 opening and in over the next few months probably will have to choose a nickname. With Lincoln High (future rivals) having one of the best anywhere (Zebras), that’s going to create some pressure for Twelve Bridges to come up with a good one of its own. Zebras vs. Giraffes?

Garza (Fresno) — With the gleam of last season’s 15-0 football squad at Central High of Fresno that won the CIF D1-AA state title still fresh in everyone’s eyes, trustees of the Central Unified School District voted last May to name its second high school in honor of former Central head football coach Justin Garza, who lost a valiant fight against cancer in 2017 and died at the age of 41. Ground has been broken for the new school, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021. The only other school in the state named for a football coach is Amos Alonzo Stagg High of Stockton (opened in the middle of the 1950s).

Del Sol (Oxnard) — The school from Oxnard that won last year’s CIF D2-A state football title, Pacifica of Oxnard, has 3,200 students so the need for another school in the Oxnard Union High School District seems obvious. Del Sol has a listed opening in the fall of 2022.

Del Oro (Bakersfield) — Recent new high schools opening in the Kern High School District have included Centennial, Liberty, Independence, Golden Valley and Mira Monte so why not open another one with a name already taken by a California school? Del Oro starts as the latest in the massive Kern district in the fall of 2022. And judging by photos, Del Oro of Bakersfield also will have the same black-and-gold colors of its namesake — Del Oro of Loomis.

People driving in Orange County near the old massive buildings of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station have probably noticed the cool, new buildings being finished of the new Legacy Magnet High School right nearby. That school is about to open, but will not be offering CIF interscholastic sports.

Finally, this feature isn’t about private schools or other Catholic schools that may be built or opening, but one that could be more in the works than ever before is a Catholic school for the southern part of Santa Clara County (Gilroy/Morgan Hill).

On the other hand, given the current economic climate and the pandemic, any and all of these new school openings beyond this year could be delayed. It’s always fun to follow these developments and to speculate about possible nicknames.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @CalHiSports

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