Ohio High School Athletic Association moving football formula again

by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor Published:

You know that adage about the only thing that's constant is change?

Whoever came up with that probably had to deal with Ohio High School Athletic Association.

On June 14, the OHSAA confirmed its alignment for the new seven-division playoff system.

Personally, I thought the six-division system worked just fine.

However, I know some of the "smaller" Division I schools -- like Nordonia and Twinsburg -- always felt they were at a disadvantage when they had to face schools with more than 1,000 boys in their ranks.

Here's the complete list of Record Publishing Co. schools, with their OHSAA male enrollments and where they are going:

• Stow-Munroe Falls -- 651 boys -- Division I, staying put

• Cuyahoga Falls -- 636 boys -- Division I, staying put

• Hudson -- 631 boys -- Division I, staying put

• Twinsburg -- 545 boys -- Division II, down from Division I

• Nordonia -- 507 boys -- Division II, down from Division I

• Walsh Jesuit -- 432 boys -- Division II, staying put

• Aurora -- 387 boys -- Division III, down from Division II

• Tallmadge -- 344 boys -- Division III, down from Division II

• Woodridge -- 264 boys -- Division IV, down from Division III

• Streetsboro -- 250 boys -- Division IV, down from Division III

• Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy -- 235 boys -- Division IV, down from Division III

Western Reserve Academy still is not a member of the OHSAA.

While the move does put Nordonia and Twinsburg in with schools closer to them in terms of enrollment, does the move down make it easier to make/succeed in the playoffs?

Consider this: The new Division I has only 72 teams placed in two regions. The top 16 teams in each region will make the playoffs.

True, if Hudson returns to the playoffs, they could be facing a road trip to Toledo, Marysville or Newark. However, nearly half the Division I teams will make the playoffs.

In Division II, the traditional four-region system remains with the top eight teams from each region making the playoffs. In Division II, there are 27 teams in each region.

Checking out the roster from Nordonia and Twinsburg's region, they will have to bang heads with the likes of Massillon, Avon, Avon Lake, Fremont Ross and Toledo's two big parochial schools -- St. Francis DeSales and St. John's Jesuit.

The drop for Aurora and Tallmadge shouldn't change the fortunes of either school much. The list in Division III looks remarkably similar to Division II from last year.

As for the three schools who are moving down to Division IV, two words: Cardinal Mooney.

In short, no matter how the divisions shift, there is no "easy" way to make the playoffs.

However, big as the adjustment is, the shift to the seven-division system can be dealt with easily.

Dealing with the ongoing "competitive balance" debate in Ohio? That's another matter.

Once again, Ohio's high school principals voted down a competitive balance proposal this May.

This time, a move to adjust enrollment counts upward for schools which have players residing outside the school's district failed.

Once again, it was close -- the measure failed 327-308 (51.5 percent to 48.5 percent).

Of course, the move came only after the petition initiated by Wooster Triway to separate public and private schools was amended in March.

This is the third straight year a competitive balance proposal has gone down by a slim margin.

All of the proposed systems have been imperfect -- but, in my mind, all of them are better than full separation public and private schools.

Is this a case of three strikes and you're out?

OHSAA commissioner Don Ross doesn't think so.

"As everyone is aware, this is the third year in a row a competitive balance proposal has been narrowly defeated," Ross said in a news release in May. "I will be consulting with our Board of Directors to see what action, if any, we take next, but I anticipate at a minimum that a proposal on separate tournaments for public and non-public schools will again be placed on the ballot next spring via the petition process."

In the words of that epic poet Homer, "D'oh!"

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Separation of public and private schools at the high school level in Ohio will do far more harm than good.

This movement keeps the focus on winning in the playoffs and not on athlete participation.

By doing so, the OHSAA and its member schools are failing to support the group the OHSAA was founded for: Student-athletes.

More succinctly, can the adults stop worrying about divisions and competitive balance and just let the kids play?

For me, it's a heck of a lot more fun to write about games than board meetings.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.