For Eastern Oregon Football, Change Is Now The Normal

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John L. Braese

WILSONVILLE – As athletic directors and coaches attempt to prepare for next season’s football schedule, the OSAA Football Ad Hoc committee has one remaining meeting scheduled on Wednesday, Jan. 25 before passing on their recommendations to the OSAA Executive Board for their Feb. 6 meeting.

On Jan. 17, the Ad Hoc released a proposal of how football will look come fall.

In addition to the changes noted below, the committee also released some views on pressing issues facing football in Oregon.

Despite an impassioned plea from Powder Valley Superintendent Lance Dixon requesting the cutoff number for 6-man be lowered, the committee announced no changes to cutoff numbers will be considered until after the completion of next season. In addition, the committee also announced bracket sizes for 1A will not be addressed until later this year.

The committee also continues to address how to deal with teams playing down and post-season play. The current idea is if after playing down for two consecutive years, participating in the playoffs would not be allowed in year three. This idea is not set in stone.

Problems we foresee for football

  • There are teams out there that will forever be moved up and down every few years. Playing down, a good group of seniors will win too many games forcing a move back up to the next level. With that group’s graduation, the younger team will struggle playing at the upper level and be moved right back down the following year. This will create a yo-yo effect for a certain number of teams never knowing if they are playing in their assigned league or playing down due to wins/losses.
  • This forever changing of leagues will hinder established rivalries. That town you love to hate may still be a game, but if now out of your league, the game just does not mean as much.
  • The OSAA is in a bad position when it comes to post season eligibility and play down teams. No team wants to see a state title go to a squad playing down a division. However, what football player will do the extra practices, the weight room, the film studying knowing there is nothing after the regular season is done? In no other OSAA sport does the governing body tell a student athlete to play a season with no chance of post season play.
  • EOS heavily advocated for 6-man football to receive the accolades they deserve by way of a state championship recognized by the OSAA. That being said, 6-man football should be allocated to small and we mean small schools. We saw Harper wait for a number of years to finally be able to play 6-man football. We eagerly await Jordan Valley to have a coach and return to football in the fall after having only 18 students in the entire high school this year. We question and expect the ad hoc to also question if a school carries a roster of 20-plus players, is 6-man football appropriate? Does it take a year to answer this question?

4A Greater Oregon League

  • After a year in the 3A Eastern Oregon League, the Ontario Tigers return to the GOL (4A Special District 5). The reasoning behind this is Ontario won too many games as a 3A team by OSAA rules.
  • The Dalles makes room for the Tigers by leaving the 4A Special District 5 and heading to the 4A Special District 2 with Estacada, Gladstone, La Salle, Molalla and Parkrose.

3A Eastern Oregon League

  • Taking the place of the Ontario Tigers and returning to 3A status is the Umatilla Vikings. Like the Tigers, the Vikings won too many games while participating in the 2A 9-man league last season.
  • 4A McLoughlin will remain at the 3A level in the Special District 4 after going 0-7 last season.

2A Blue Mountain Conference

  • With Umatilla gone, the 2A Special District 4 will drop to a six-team league.

1A Special District 2-East (8-man)

  • Wallowa drops out of 8-man action and heads to the 6-man ranks after a 0-7 season finish.

1A Special District 2-West (8-man)

  • A league record of 4-2 keeps the 2A Enterprise Outlaws playing 1A 8-man football.

1A Special District 1 (6-man)

  • Wallowa coming down to this district.
  • EOS has been notified of a planned team and the Jordan Valley School District is actively searching for a football coach. Although found nowhere on the OSAA proposal, EOS is assuming the Mustangs will join this league once a coach is found.

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