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Idaho preps: Lakeland belongs with IEL teams

By now you’ve heard that Lakeland is back in the Inland Empire League.

Lakeland’s venture as a 4A independent lasted just a year. I’m not going to rehash the issues that led to the Rathdrum school leaving – whether right, wrong or indifferent.

Upon Lakeland’s departure, though, the league voted that the school would be seeded last for state-qualifying tournaments in boys and girls soccer, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball. That meant Lakeland had to travel for all state-qualifying games. Lakeland appealed to the Idaho High School Activities Association. The IHSAA upheld the IEL’s decision. But it strongly suggested that the parties revisit the issue and work out a solution.

To the schools’ credit, a compromise was reached for this year. The league decided to break into separate 5A and 4A divisions for conference play – similar to what was established years ago in football.

The first factor for determining regional seeding is best records among the three 4A schools. The second is head to head. The exception is if the teams split league games. The final criteria, then, is how many 5A schools the teams played. In Lakeland’s case, it earns the worst of the seeds involved since it decided to schedule fewer games against the 5A schools.

The exception is likely to be dropped next year. The bottom line is Lakeland needed to be in the league, and all the schools should be commended for returning to harmony.

Bulldog to wear new hat

Tom Albertson has taken over as athletic director at Sandpoint, replacing Cheryl Klein.

Klein, who was planning on working half the year before retiring, decided to leave earlier for family reasons.

Albertson, 45, is a Bulldog through and through. A 1982 Sandpoint graduate, he has family roots at the high school that date back to 1937. His grandfather, father and mother were Sandpoint grads, and his father taught biology for 32 years.

“I’m learning on the job. I’m probably spinning my wheels a little bit,” said Albertson, a math teacher for 24 years. But Cheryl has left things in good shape. She’s put some things in place that has made this transition really, really easy for me.”

Albertson has worn many hats at Sandpoint. He served as an assistant football and track coach at various levels for 20 years including a short stint as head track coach.

“Being a part of the family at Sandpoint, I don’t know anything different,” Albertson said. “My emphasis will be on student accountability and connection to the classroom. Student-athletes are the leaders of their school. Extracurricular activity is just that – extra.”

Football this week

5A and 4A Inland Empire League teams are still a couple of weeks away from beginning league play. Intermountain League action begins next week.

A couple of interesting non-league matchups highlight Friday’s schedule. Coeur d’Alene (2-0), which moved into the 5A rankings at No. 5 this week, travels to Sandpoint (3-0), which is ranked second in 4A, and Timberlake (1-1) visits district rival Lakeland (1-2). Elsewhere, Post Falls (2-0) travels to Eagle (1-1), Clarkston (0-2) goes to Moscow (3-0) and Lewiston (1-1) visits Pullman (0-2). Lake City (0-3) has a bye.

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