A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Opinion, Sports

League dominance doesn’t translate

Two years ago, during my sophomore year, it was announced LHS athletics would be moving down to 4A athletics the next year. Woohoo! That’s great! And it has been. LHS now fields winning teams in most sports, and usually has one or two teams per season (fall, winter, spring) make the state tournament in their sport. What a turnaround from three years ago, where we could not win more than around 5 games per season in any sport.

Now our teams go unbeaten, or only have two losses and they’re not in league. We win our league, have around an 80% winning percentage, and qualify for playoffs. And promptly get demolished in the end of season tournament.

LHS teams see no real competition in their league play, cruise through their regular season until they get to state. And when they finally have to be competitive, our teams are unable to do so. The one exception is boys soccer, who made a strong playoff run last year, getting knocked out in the quarterfinals by the number one seeded Air Academy.

The lack of competitiveness at the state level isn’t the player’s or coach’s fault, it is just the nature of the beast. When players get to state, the competition gets better. But, LHS teams are unprepared for this heightened level of competition because of their league.

Littleton High School dropped to the 4A JeffCo League from the 5A Continental League. The Continental League is without a doubt one of the most competitive in 5A athletics. Why did we immediately move from the hardest league in 5A to becoming a class 4A school? It seems like we missed an intermediate step.

LHS athletics, before making the switch to 4A, should have tried a “less competitive” league in 5A. It’s not like we couldn’t win a single game in the continental league, we even qualified for state playoffs in boys soccer and girls basketball as a 5A school. Moving out of the Continental League and into a different 5A league would have been more fitting for us to do, and would have prepared athletes for stiffer competition if we truly needed to drop to 4A.