The IVL schools — Brawley, Calexico, Central, Southwest and Palo Verde — will be joining with Desert League members — Calipatria, Holtville, Imperial and Vincent — in certain sports next school year for league play.
"I think all this is terrific. Other than football, I think the smaller schools can compete with the bigger ones in most sports," said Southwest athletic director Greg Sackos. "The smaller schools can't be afraid to play the bigger schools. By playing us, they're just going to get better."
Creating more fan support is one reason for Valley teams playing each other more frequently. In years past local teams have left the Valley to play non-league games against teams from the Yuma area and the Coachella Valley. Taking some of those games off schedules and keeping games local will cut travel expenses and create larger crowds.
However, on open dates, Valley schools will be able to travel to San Diego and compete in tournaments or individual games to help establish new relationships. Playing more San Diego schools in the CIF San Diego Section also will help prepare Valley squads for a higher level of competition.
"Yes we'll be traveling more, but it's very beneficial to everyone involved," said Brawley athletic director Billy Brewer. "Having the Valley schools join together would also give us a little more voting power when it comes to the playoffs.
"In the San Diego Section we have a voice as far as that goes, whereas in the Southern Section we didn't. We were just told what to do."
The IVL and DL are part of the San Diego CIF's Southern Conference, along with the Citrus League. All eight Valley schools combined could create their own conference, which would be split into divisions for the bigger and smaller schools.
In basketball, for example, the bigger schools would face each other twice and play the smaller schools once, and vice versa, meaning a total of 10 league games for each school.
Whatever the outcome, all involved think the move will be beneficial to all participants.
"This is something that's definitely good for everyone," said Sackos. "I really do believe this thing can definitely work."