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The Suburbanite
  • OHSAA finalizes new alignment for football divisions

  • High school football will look much different in Ohio starting this fall. The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors approved proposed organizational changes to add a seventh division in an effort to create a better competitive balance across all divisions.

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  • High school football will look much different in Ohio starting this fall.
    The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors has approved proposed organizational changes to add a seventh division in an effort to create a better competitive balance across all divisions.
    Concerns that the disparity between the largest and smallest schools in the division led not only to changes in alignment, but modifications in the number of boys a school needs to be classified in a certain division. The focus of the changes is largely Division I, where Jackson and five of the six other Federal League teams reside - and will continue to reside.
    Canton McKinley, GlenOak, Perry, Boardman and Hoover will all remain in Division I, while Lake will continue to compete in Division II.
    McKinley was closest to dropping from Division I to II, but the Bulldogs will remain in the largest division while archrival Massillon will drop to Division II.
    Jackson remains the largest Division I school in Stark County with its number of male students listed at 763 by OHSAA. GlenOak (749), Perry (647), North Canton Hoover (642) and McKinley (612) all remained above the cut line for Division II.
    Three Suburbanite schools will change divisions this coming season, all dropping down one level. Springfield, which competed in Division II, will drop to Division III.  They will be joined in that step down by Portage Trail Conference rival Coventry. Both schools fell well below the cut line for Division II, with the Comets (343 boys) and Spartans (316 boys) in the middle of Division III in terms of size.
    "I will say the division we are in is loaded. That will be a big difference," Springfield coach and athletic director Kevin Vaughn said.
    Manchester, coming off a playoff appearance in Division IV, will compete in Division V this season.
    Green (Division I), Lake (Division II) and Mogadore (Division VI) will all remain in their same division from last season, although Mogadore athletic director Rich Brumbaugh pointed out that staying in the same division does not mean the division itself will look the same.
    "We are in D-6, which is essentially last year's low D-5 and high D-6 schools," Brumbaugh said. "So even if the name has not changed, the makeup of the division has."
    The Wildcats have reached the state playoffs 14 straight seasons and have reached the state semifinals twice in the past three seasons, including 2012.
    The cut line for Division I was 608, leaving 24 Northeast Ohio schools that played in Division I last season with a new home. Green found itself close to the line with 617 boys, but will remain in Division I, where the largest school, Mason, has an enrollment of boys more than twice that (1,266) of the Bulldogs.
    With the changes, Division I will have just 72 schools and will be split into two regions, compared to four regions for each of the other six divisions.
    Page 2 of 2 - Division I will be divided into the Northern and Southern regions, with Greeen in the Northern region. Each region will have 16 playoff teams and those teams will compete in a No. 1 seed versus No. 16 seed, No. 2 seed versus No. 15 seed, etc. format.
    Teams that win a Week 14 state semifinal game will receive a regional championship trophy.
    Under the new divisional alignment, the traditional Friday-Saturday state championship weekend schedule will also be modified. The championship weekend, scheduled for Dec. 5-7 at Fawcett Stadium in Canton and Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, will include a Thursday night game.
    The division whose title game will be played on Thursday night will be decided after the state semifinals the previous weekend and will be picked from the four divisions (II, III, IV and VI) that play their postseason contests on Friday nights.
    The issue of further altering the competitive balance of not only football, but other sports, by separating public and private schools into their own postseasons remains an issue under debate for OHSAA, but no changes or decisions have yet been made to that end.
    Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or andy.harris@thesuburbanite.com.
    On Twitter: @aharrisBURB

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