Madison County high school fall sports teams will see minimal changes to their divisions after the Ohio High School Board of Education approved new divisional breakdowns for the upcoming fall seasons Thursday.
According to the OHSAA, division assignments are based on school enrollment numbers provided by the Ohio Department of Education, and then modified in football, volleyball and soccer based on competitive balance factors that OHSAA member schools approved by referendum vote in 2014.
Jonathan Alder which competed in D-IV last season will remain in D-IV thanks to the adjustment for competitive balance. The Pioneers were slated to be a D-III team this fall prior to a competitive balance element going into effect, that would have made Alder one of the smallest D-III teams in the state, now it will be one of the biggest D-IV schools, Alder will be joined by London in D-IV.
“I’m happy with it but there are good teams in every region,” Alder football coach Brett Glass said. “Sometimes in Division IV certain regions are harder than in Division III, depending on what region you’re in. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of good teams in our region.
“I wasn’t real surprised that we’re staying where we are. I would have been surprised if we were D-III, we were right on that line. We would have been one of the smaller schools in D-III.”
West Jefferson will move up from to D-V this season after competing as a D-VI team a year ago. The Roughriders move was due to enrollment numbers increasing. Madison-Plains will also compete in D-V the same division it was in a year ago.
West Jeff coach Shawn Buescher has accepted his team will routinely remain on that line between Divisions V and VI and understands that it may change back and forth.
“We really didn’t know what to think going in,” he said. “We are only two kids above the cut. I think every couple years we’re going to go through this. If the community stays the same size we’re going to be either a small five or a big six.
“I really don’t think it matters all that much. As a small five we’re going to have to play bigger fives. Like we tell our guys, we need to control the things we can control. This is something that’s beyond our control.”
None of the county’s volleyball or soccer teams had their divisions changed. London and Jonathan Alder will continue to play in D-II in both soccer and volleyball. West Jeff and Plains will stay in D-III in those sports. Shekinah Christian will continue to compete in D-IV in volleyball.
The OHSAA reported that of the 718 schools that play football in Ohio, 75 schools moved up to a higher division due to competitive balance and/or a higher base enrollment number. In volleyball (790 schools), 51 moved up a division. In girls soccer (522 schools), 24 moved up a division, while in boys soccer (571 schools), 30 moved up a division.
In a statement released by the OHSAA, “This is a journey that we have been on for more than eight years to get to this point,” Dr. Dan Ross, OHSAA Commissioner, said. “Today’s approval of the fall sports divisional breakdowns is the result of countless hours of work by our staff and our member schools. For the first time in OHSAA history, enrollment isn’t the only factor in determining a school’s division in certain sports. But the journey isn’t over. We will study the results of this first go-around and discuss with the Competitive Balance Committee and the board.”
According to competitive balance regulations, the previous season’s roster data (grades 9-12) is used for affecting the following season’s additional roster count in the selected sports. The additional roster count is added to the school’s base enrollment number to determine the final adjusted enrollment count before divisional placements are made.
The OHSAA release added from Ross, “The committee studied the competitive balance factors and we listened to the feedback from our member schools,” Dr. Ross said, noting that the first three Competitive Balance Proposals were voted down by the membership in 2011, 2012 and 2013. “As we’ve said all along, our goal is to keep public and non-public schools together in the same postseason divisions, but Competitive Balance will help place those schools in the correct division based on the makeup of their roster. We are very pleased that this is now off the ground and we can see the results. We’ll continue to gather feedback and see what changes, if any, the committee wants to propose to the membership to vote on in the future.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.