Is eastern Oregon ready for hybrid football?

The Oregon football championships recently wrapped up and it is already time for the Oregon School Activities Association to start making changes to the leagues. Bear in mind as you read this story, changes would be made in football only. All other sports would not change-so far.

The OSAA football ad-hoc committee met Monday and the following are the recommendations. Before a final decision is made, schools will be asked for feedback before a January 22 meeting. A final recommendation will be made to the OSAA board on February 10.

Here is the big one!

Baker, La Grande and Ontario will join Burns, Nyssa and Vale in a special 4A/3A special district. The combined team of McLoughlin and Griswold would also be in this league as plans are for the Pioneers to drop down to the 3A level in football.

As for playoff spots, a discussion with executive director Brad Garrett cleared up a few questions on the new league.

“Although a hybrid league, the top 4A teams and the top 3A teams would qualify for the 4A and 3A playoffs,” Garrett said. “We are still looking at the whole idea, but it looks like two 4A teams and two 3A teams would advance to the playoffs out of the hybrid league.”

Garrett said the idea of a hybrid stems from teams in eastern Oregon continually struggling to find games and the success of hybrid leagues in Washington.

Other changes being considered for eastern Oregon teams include:

  • Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii moves up to 2A. (Went 5-0 in league play in 2019, winning the 1A Special District 3-West)
  • McLoughlin/Griswold moves down to 3A. (Went 1-7 as a non-assigned team in 2019)
  • Irrigon and Umatilla moves down to 2A. (Irrigon went winless in 2019 in the 3A Special District 3 and Umatilla went 1-3 in the same league and finished 5-3 overall in 2019)
  • Pine Eagle remains in the 1A. (Went 1-5 in the Special District 3-East in 2019 and finished 2-5 overall)

A plan to move 2A football to nine-man has been placed on hold. Many of the junior varsity teams in the 2A are currently playing nine-man football, but teams expressed pushback on changing to nine-man at the varsity level. At this time, the proposal has been held off for the next few years.