By VINCE PELUSO
As the 2013 sports calendar flips to 2014, one Ashtabula County school will have a league to play in while another is staying put.
The Buckeye Local school board accepted an invitation into the All-American Conference, which will likely begin with the spring season of 2014, while the Pymatuning Valley school board declined an invitation from the AAC, opting instead to stay in the Northeastern Athletic Conference.
Edgewood athletic director Steve Kray said he and the Warriors are looking forward to what’s ahead for their athletic programs.
“We’re excited about the opportunity the AAC provides Edgewood, the community and the kids,” Kray said. “It’s nice to have a league affiliation.”
Edgewood has been without a conference since the Northeastern Conference folded.
The target date to begin league play will be next spring, but Kray said nothing is official until the AAC’s athletic directors meeting in August.
“Hopefully, this spring season we will begin league play in the AAC.” he said. “We’re not sure of the details until the August athletic director meeting.”
As far as PV is concerned, Lakers athletic director Mel Nowakowski said their was no single reason why PV didn’t accept the bid, just that it did what it felt was best.
“There’s not just one reason. Overall, we felt it was best for Pymatuning Valley to stay where we are,” he said. “The NAC has been really good to us and it would be difficult to leave there. It was a serious consideration, we weren’t trying to pull anyone’s strings.
“Obviously, if we weren’t interested, we wouldn’t have applied.”
AAC commissioner Rich King felt that the PV board was against move based on its historical ties with the NAC.
“The people at PV, if I’m not mistaken, the AD, principal and superintendent were all in favor of the move, they just couldn't convince their board members,” he said. “They would have liked to make the jump, and they thought it was good for their student-athletes, and I think the board members thought, from a historical standpoint of who they’ve competed against, that they just wanted to stay status quo.”
Nowakowski said the decision was nothing against the AAC, just that the school did what was best for it.
“We just felt once we kind of looked through everything, where we are right now is a good fit,” she said. “It’s nothing against the AAC. Boy, those people were so great and they wanted us to come in there. From the big schools to the small schools, all those people were wonderful.”
King felt that the possible expansion of the NAC might’ve played into the decision.
“I know what they’re trying to do,” he said. “They're looking at Conneaut, possibly adding them into the league for some sports, if not all sports. I also know that the Chagrin Valley Conference is having some ripple effect from some teams wanting to leave. Either (Berkshire) or Cardinal may be looking at changing leagues."
Nowakowski said the possibility of NAC expansion did play a factor.
“Definitely, there’s been some talk out there. Newbury will be joining in two years and Windham starts this fall,” she said. “For us, we’d like some schools that are our size to join. Right now, that’s all rumor with the CVC falling apart. That’s a possibility, any of those schools comes.”
Nowakowski said the decision wasn’t based purely on football, although she did admit that when conference alignment comes up, football is usually the focus point.
“We don’t base these decisions on football, but you don’t realize how important that is until you go to these meetings and all they talk about is football,” she said with a laugh. “We did think about football. We need to play more schools our size to make the playoffs. We’ve had seasons where we’ve gone 10-0 and didn’t make the playoffs and we don’t want that.
“We think adding some schools like Berkshire and Cardinal, who are our size, to the schedule will help with that.”