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The Suburbanite
  • Sunday Special: McKinley likely to remain in Division I

  • Todd Porter says while it is not official, it does appear that McKinley High School’s football team will be a Division I team for the next two years after the Ohio High School Athletic Association adds a seventh division for the sport this coming season.

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  • While it is not official, it does appear that McKinley High School’s football team will be a Division I team for the next two years after the Ohio High School Athletic Association adds a seventh division for the sport this coming season. McKinley’s enrollment has taken a drastic hit, particularly for females, after the latest enrollment count.
    The OHSAA takes a new count from the Ohio Department of Education every two years and adjusts classifications to divisions based on enrollment. For this coming football season, the top 10 percent of schools will make up Division I.
    There were 715 football-playing schools in Ohio last year. However, Berea and Midpark high schools are combining for this coming season, and St. Peter Chanel closed, which brings the number down to 713. Had it stayed at 713, the top 10 percent would have meant that Division I would have been made up of 71 schools and not 72 as anticipated.
    But Harvest Preparatory, Open Door Christian and Oyler are adding football for the coming season, which brings the number back to 716 and makes the top 10 percent 72 schools in Division I.
    McKinley’s enrollment will make it one of the four smallest Division I programs in the state next season.
    That leaves 644 schools to be divided, relatively equally to make up divisions II through VII. Those divisions will consist of either 106 or 108 schools, which is what the board of directors will vote on at Thursday’s meeting. This is an important meeting because those breakdowns will impact some Stark County schools.
    Louisville is on the border between being a Division II or III team. It appears the Leopards will be a Division III team. However, if they sneak into Division II, they may be in the most competitive division in the state and the toughest computer region because it will include Massillon.
    “I think if you look at Division I, you know there are a certain number of known quantities,” McKinley athletic director Greg Malone said. “You have the all-male Catholic schools out of Cleveland and Cincinnati who have had so much success over the last few years. As you get down to Division II, you don’t see as many of those schools, but what you also see is a lot of outstanding football programs in that division.”
    FEDERAL LEAGUE EXPANSION UPDATE
    The Federal League seems to be reversing its original stance on releasing the schools it approached about expanding into the league. Lake Principal Kevin Tobin, as chairman of the league’s strategic planning committee, was the spokesman for the league on expansion.
    However, Tobin said that will now fall to one of the league superintendents, probably Plain Local’s Brent May or Lake’s Jeff Wendorf. Both top-level administrators have athletic backgrounds. Wendorf used to be a head football coach.
    Page 2 of 3 - The league has been working on releasing a written statement to update the expansion process, but there has been nothing as of Friday.
    The league needs to be proactive and aggressive to make sure it strengthens itself for the future. Boardman is leaving to join the All-American Conference in two years.
    That leaves a league of Hoover, Lake, GlenOak, Perry, Jackson and McKinley. A six-team league is barely a league and more like a contractual relationship to play one another.
    Of course, the elephant in the room that the league probably won’t address is why it isn’t looking at expanding within Stark County first, and adding Massillon.
    The league has made it clear all of its efforts to expand have included schools from Summit and Medina counties.
    Here’s the rub with that idea: Many of the administrators that run the Federal League member schools talk about doing more to work together within Stark County, but they look to expand outside of the county first?
    And all of the coaches in the league tell their players not to shy away from playing competition or from competing against the best within their teams for playing time, but no one wants to add Massillon because it may be too competitive in football?
    Having said that, it will be interesting to see how this expansion thing plays out and how many, if any, of the schools outside of the county are genuinely interested in joining the Federal League and leaving their leagues. If that happens, the Federal League could easily change its name to the Suburban League South.
    DOMINANT VIKINGS
    There are all kinds of numbers to illustrate just how dominant Hoover’s softball team has been the last three years, and really since 1998. The team won its third state championship in a row Saturday by beating Elyria 7-0 at Firestone Stadium.
    The Vikings went 34-0 this season and became the first Division I school to win a state championship and go undefeated doing so. They are ranked No. 4 nationally and now have seven state titles.
    And for those keeping track, they have now won 45 straight games, going back to a mid-May loss to Poland in 2012.
    The number that may be most impressive is nine. That’s how many players head coach Jerry Goodpasture returns next season.
    And that includes starting pitcher Tara Thacker (junior), catcher Kathleen Shier (sophomore), third baseman Kaitlyn Eckleberry (junior), left fielder Andi Farrah (freshman), shortstop Jenna Lilley (junior) and first baseman Kelly Dillow (junior).
    Goodpasture loses just three seniors from the lineup he sent out for the state title game, albeit those are three big losses. Mackenzie DiPietro, Ally Farrah and Caly Russo graduate.
    Page 3 of 3 - DiPietro, who will attend Kent State on a golf scholarship, shed a few tears after the game Saturday because she knew it was her last game after such a memorable back-to-back-to-back championship run.
    “Yeah, I would stay another year if I didn’t have to go to class,” DiPietro said, jokingly. “This is a new beginning coming for me.”
    It may be a continuation of the same dominating success for the softball team, though.
    EASY DOES IT
    Goodpasture laughs when people ask if he thinks the Vikings can win it all next year. It is usually a little bit of a ridiculous question, but with that talent coming back many people in North Canton already believe it.
    “A lot of our fans are talking about it,” Goodpasture said, laughing.
    Let’s all let this one sink in and let the Vikings enjoy this for a bit first.
    WHO'S UP IN DENVER?
    Being named the NBA Coach of the Year doesn’t mean much for job security. Ask Avery Johnson, Mike Brown or Byron Scott.
    Denver’s George Karl received the award about a month ago, and less than five weeks later the Nuggets fired him.
    It’s interesting because Karl’s belief in center and GlenOak graduate Kosta Koufos might have been one of the reasons he was let go. Denver signed JaVale McGee to a four-year, $44 million contract and wanted Karl to use McGee more so he would develop. Karl, though, did things his way and stayed with Koufos.
    The young center had his best NBA season.
    It will be interesting to see what happens with Koufos going forward in Denver. McGee has the contract that screams he will be given more opportunity to be the starter than will Koufos.?