As the Principals Athletic Conference plots out its second 25 years, it is reaching back to its origins.

As the Principals Athletic Conference plots out its second 25 years, it is reaching back to its origins.

As such, Orrville and Northwest, who exited the All-Ohio League just as some of those schools were in the process of forming the PAC in 1989, have been picked to become member high schools over the next several years.

In a recent meeting of PAC principals at Manchester High School, Orrville was extended an invitation to join the league for the 2016-17 school year. Northwest was invited for the 2017-18 school year.

Both moves are contingent upon the the approval of Orrville’s and Northwest’s respective school boards.

Orrville is coming from the Ohio Cardinal Conference, while Northwest is an independent after leaving the Northeastern Buckeye Conference several years ago because of budget concerns.

Representatives from two other schools, Canton South and Loudonville, attended the meeting but were not extended invitations to join. There was concern that South, which is building a new high school, would become too big, and that Loudonville, in Richland County, is simply located too far away, especially for CVCA, which is in Cuyahoga Falls and is the PAC’s northernmost school. South is exploring options to leave the NBC because of concerns of the viability and future of that league.

The vacancies in the PAC have been created by two factors: Canton City Schools’ recent decision to merge Timken, a member of the PAC, and McKinley at the end of the current school year and retain the McKinley name. Also  Indian Valley and Tusky Valley opted to leave the PAC following the 2016-17 school year to rejoin the Inter Valley Conference.

The other PAC schools – Manchester, Fairless, Tuslaw, Triway and Cuyahoga Vallery Christian Academy – voted on the new members. Orrville was approved by a 5-0 margin, and Northwest by 4-1.

With the loss of Timken, the PAC will be a seven-team league next school year, which is another return to its roots. When it was formed, it had seven schools and was known as the PAC-7.

With Orrville joining, the league will have eight schools for the the 2016-17 year. Then with Indian Valley and Tusky Valley leaving and Northwest joining, the league will slip back to seven teams for 2017-18. However, the PAC hopes by then to have another school ready to join with Northwest to again make it an eight-team league, which is considered perfect for scheduling since there an even number of teams, and enough teams to offer the schools a seven-game league schedule for football, the biggest revenue-generating sport.

“The league is still looking for another school that would be an appropriate fit in terms of its size and location,” said Jim France, Manchester’s longtime principal and head football coach.

But from the outset, France has preached a slow, careful approach to piecing the PAC back together, so he is happy with what has happened thus far.

“I’m just glad we found someone to take the place of Timken,” he said. “Orrville is a great fit. It is similar in size, it has a great tradition and some of our current schools have competed in a league with them back in the old All-Ohio League.”

Orrville would become the smallest PAC school in terms of enrollment with 359 total students in the upper three grades. Manchester is next-smallest with 385.

Northwest would be the biggest PAC school with 483 students. CVCA is currently the largest at 455.

If Northwest does enter the league, then the PAC will have to look at the possibility that there might be a conflict of interest with Northwest Athletic Director Gary Woods continuing to serve as the PAC commissioner.

But that’s a problem for down the road. For the time being, the PAC is just happy that it will survive. With just five schools remaining after the departures of Timken, Indian Valley and Tusky Valley, that was a definite concern.

“We were looking at being able to sustain ourselves,” Fairless principal Dr. Larry Chambliss said.