In the ongoing game of high school sports conference dominoes, the Portage Trail Conference has become the forgotten player.

In the ongoing game of high school sports conference dominoes, the Portage Trail Conference has become the forgotten player.

That may change in the weeks and months ahead if PTC league president and Rootstown High School athletic director Keith Waesch and his fellow league ADs have their way.

"The PTC is actively seeking new members to join the conference. Obviously, we would like to get back to 16 schools, which we had for the first eight years of the conference," Waesch said. "However, when East Canton and Windham left for new conferences this year, and now with Kent Roosevelt leaving for the Suburban League, it may not be possible to add three schools."

With the departure of Kent Roosevelt for the new-look Suburban League effective in 2015, the PTC will have just 13 members, including six in its large-school Metro Division.

Waesch and the other 12 PTC athletic directors now face significant questions about how their league will look and operate moving forward. The projected alignment as of 2015 will make scheduling for all sports, but especially football, very difficult.

The PTC does have options, including revisiting the possible addition of three potential new members it heard presentations from in May 2011. Lake Center Christian and Northwest remain options for the league. Neither school currently has a league affiliation, with LCCS having existed as an independent for its entire athletic histories and Northwest having been without a league since exiting the Northeastern Buckeye Conference in 2011 because district officials anticipated having to cut sports due to a series of failed levies.

Barberton, which made a presentation to the league in 2011, has agreed to join the Suburban League beginning in 2015. St. Thomas Aquinas, which was also a candidate for PTC admission in 2011, has agreed to join the White Division of the North Coast League beginning next fall.

Both LCCS and Northwest remain interested in league membership and would be open to joining the PTC, according to their respective athletic directors.

"Lake Center would love to begin the process of becoming a part of a league. Whether or not the PTC would be a good fit or not would have to be determined, but ultimately Lake Center wants to be in a league," LCCS athletic director Ted Lawver said.

Northwest, which is not an ideal geographic fit for many PTC teams, is nonetheless enthusiastic about the potential of joining the league.

"Northwest is extremely interested in being considered as a member in the Portage Trail Conference. We have sent a letter to the chair of the expansion committee and are awaiting a response," athletic director Gary Woods said. "We would welcome an opportunity to talk to the PTC member schools to discuss our candidacy for their perceived opening. We have placed ourselves at their disposal."

The process of teams jumping leagues has dragged on for the past several seasons, but it has picked up significant speed in the past four months. Green became the tipping point for the process, teetering between staying in the Suburban League or jumping to the larger, more financially lucrative Federal League.

When the Bulldogs decided to leave the Suburban League, the league moved forward with plans to expand and overhaul its ranks. In two years, when Green officially exits, Kent Roosevelt, Barberton, Twinsburg, North Royalton, Stow-Munroe Falls, Hudson, Aurora and Cuyahoga Falls will enter and the conference will split into two divisions - large schools and small schools.

It is the exit of Kent Roosevelt that is now forcing the PTC to evaluate its own options. Roosevelt was one of the founding members of the PTC when the league began operations in 2005 and has played in the league's Metro Division for all of its tenure in the league. The Rough Riders' exit comes on the heels of Windham and East Canton, also charter members of the league, leaving after the 2012-13 school year for competitive and geographical reasons, respectively.

The Bombers and Hornets defected from the PTC County Division, forcing both realignment and the addition of one crossover football game for all league teams to fill out the schedule. Streetsboro, which had moved to the Metro in 2011 because of increasing enrollment, returned to the County along with Southeast, with which it swapped divisions two years ago.

Enrollment and related competitive balance issues will be at the forefront of the league's expansion committee’s discussions. According to Waesch, the issue will influence any decision on new member schools.

"We are also looking for smaller schools as we are starting to see a big enrollment gap between schools currently in the County Division," Waesch added. "Streetsboro, Woodridge and Southeast are quite a bit larger than the other four County schools (Garfield, Mogadore, Rootstown and Waterloo). Obviously, this topic will be at the forefront of our conference meetings over the next few months."

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