WILSONVILLE – The Football Ad Hoc Advisory Committee of the Oregon Schools Activities Association recently released some recommendations regarding football leagues for the upcoming 2022 season.
One of the recommendations under consideration is the removal of post season eligibility if a school opts to move down a classification, a move known as “play down”. To play down, a school petitions the OSAA, citing reasons their team should be allowed to play under their designated league. In almost all cases, schools cite lack of success against current opponents in their league and ask to play smaller schools. In the recent hearings dealing with league classifications with the exception of football, a number of schools requested to play down. The Football Ad Hoc Committee has already received 13 requests to play down.
So, looking at the football season just completed, did play down schools come close to a state title?
2A Waldport playing down in the 1a ranks lost in the quarterfinals of the 1A playoffs. In a previous playoff game, the Irish bounced the true 1A Elgin Huskies from advancing. 2A Myrtle Point playing down in the 1A ranks lost in the quarterfinals of the 1A playoffs. In a previous playoff game, the Bobcats beat the true 1A Enterprise Outlaws.
2A Gold Beach playing down in the 1A ranks lost in a playoff game to the true 1A Dufur Rangers. 2A Lost River playing down in the 1A ranks lost in the semifinals of the 1A playoffs. In a playoff game, the Pirates kept true 1A Camas Valley from scoring a point and put up 63 points in a quarterfinal win over playdown 2A Waldport.
2A Bonanza playing down in the 1A ranks lost in the first round of playoffs to the true 1A Crane Mustangs. 2A Enterprise playing down in the 1A ranks lost in the first round of playoffs to 2A playdown Myrtle Point.
In total, six of the eight teams playing down from the 2A to the 1A advanced to at least the first round of 1A playoffs. Lost River ended the season ranked fourth and came within one win of playing in the 1A championship game.
The situation is not the same in the 2A ranks. 3A Creswell playing down in the 2A ranks finished 5-4 overall and 3A Umatilla playing down in the 2A ranks finished 4-4 overall. 3A Irrigon playing down in the 2A ranks finished 1-6 overall and 3A Riverside playing down in the 2A ranks finished 0-7 overall. None of these teams advanced to the playoffs.
The Ad Hoc Committee’s concerns again rise in a big way in the 3A ranks. 4A Siuslaw playing down in the 3A ranks was crowned state champions after finishing with a perfect 12-0 record and beating true 3A South Umpqua on Nov. 27. In the past three seasons, Siuslaw has put up a 21-7 overall record playing in the 3A ranks.
Other 4A teams playing down in the 3A include Philomath (lost in the first round of the 3A playoffs), Junction City (lost in the first round of the 3A playoffs), Sisters (finished 1-6 overall) and McLoughlin (finished 0-7 overall).
Two 5A teams stepped down to the 4A including Crook County (finished 2-7 overall) and North Eugene (lost in the first round of the 4A playoffs).
The 5A saw two 6A teams make the move downward. Forest Grove finished 4-5 overall while Canby made their season continue until falling in the quarterfinals.
So, why this endless list of teams and their finishes? Very simply, the situation has become out of hand. Is the answer to halt play down teams the chance to win a state title? Possibly. The clearer answer is to more carefully evaluate and monitor the requests and subsequent approvals. This many teams should not be playing under their student populations just to boast of a successful season. Is there legitimate requests to play down? Yes. Has the system been used and abused? Yes.
The OSAA is not facing an unusual situation. There was that one kid who showed up from down the street and played football with your friends. He was faster, scored all the points and always wanted to play running back or quarterback. On defense, he tackled harder and could catch all your friends. Your mom always welcomed him when he came over. Over time, your friends became tired of playing with him because no one else had the chance to play running back. Finally, your mom gently pulled him aside, telling him he needed to go home and play with his own friends for a while.
A few days later, you see him in a game with his friends. He makes a few tackles, but most of his friends are faster and easily outrun him. He is not allowed to play running back with his friends, playing line instead and occasionally wide receiver. He is not a star playing with his friends.
OSAA needs to be mom.
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