By Chris Chaney
The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors approved division breakdowns and regional alignments for the 2013 and 2014 football seasons on June 13, shaking up some local team’s affiliation with their previous division, giving each team affected a better opportunity to compete in the state playoffs.
Of the nine Clermont County schools that have football teams, four were affected by the new breakdowns: Bethel-Tate, Clermont Northeastern, Glen Este and Williamsburg.
The number of male students enrolled at each school determines the divisional breakdown. For all four Clermont County schools designated in a different division from the year’s prior, they have dropped at least one division giving them a better shot at competing against similar-sized schools and making the playoffs more often.
The breakdown of schools by division is as follows: Milford will remain the lone Division I school in Clermont County while Glen Este has dropped from Division I to Division II where they join Amelia; New Richmond and Goshen will stand pat in Division III as will Batavia in Division IV; Bethel-Tate and Clermont Northeastern will both drop from Division IV to Division V and Williamsburg will drop from Division V to Division VI.
Coaches and athletic directors around the area were pleased with the new alignments, as they believed that their school will have improved chances to make the state playoffs with the new breakdown.
“The realignment every two years by the OHSAA helps level the playing field for schools that may decrease or increase in enrollment,” Clermont Northeastern athletic director Mike Kirk said. “The OHSAA does a very good job in creating a competitive balance within divisions.”
Bethel-Tate AD Jonathan Loudermilk echoed Kirk’s sentiments.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for Bethel to move down a division just based upon the size of our school,” Loudermilk said. “The opportunity to compete against more geographic-friendly and size-friendly schools is great. We’ve had an excellent turnout for football and feel like in Coach Jenike’s second year as football coach there will be some great things that are happening.
“The good news of it all is that we will really be able to be tested against schools that from a size perspective are a lot like what we are.”
While the breakdown takes effect immediately, practically nothing can be done as far as scheduling goes for the upcoming seasons. Schedules are pretty much set in stone at this point, but for those who were expecting a change, such as Bethel and Williamsburg, they have taken the precaution to put some new schools on the schedule that they otherwise would not have played.
Williamsburg’s head coach, Scott Lefker, has been paying especially close attention to the enrollment numbers and the effect that they could have on his team.
“We are pretty excited about being in Division IV,” he said. “We’re excited about having a better opportunity to make the playoffs with the smaller divisions and also with the local teams that we’ll have in our region. Opportunities are better for a small school like us.”
Lefker went on to say that with the new realignment of divisions and the addition of a Division VII, which it used to be that 21-percent of teams in each division would make the playoffs. Now, with that addition, the percentage jumps to about 33-percent, meaning almost a third of the teams in each region can make the playoffs.
“I’m really excited about that,” the coach said. “We still have some good teams in our division, but it’s good for the small schools in our area. It gives us the possibility to make the playoffs at 7-3 or 8-2, which should be a guarantee, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Also announced by the OHSAA was the playoff schedule format. Divisions II, III, IV and VI will play their playoff games on Friday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Divisions I, V and VII will play of Saturday nights at 7 p.m.
For more information on the regional and divisional breakdown, log onto the OHSAA’s website at ohsaa.org.