The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 25, 2013

Pointing toward the AAC?

Several county schools could join Jefferson in the conference if it votes to expand

By JOHN VARGO
For the Star Beacon

— Next Wednesday, the All-American Conference could either be restructured or remain status quo.

Currently, Poland, Canfield, Howland, Hubbard, Struthers, Niles, Beaver Local and Austintown Fitch (independent for football) are in the top tier, better known as the American Division.

LaBrae, Lakeview, Champion, Girard, Liberty, Newton Falls, Campbell and Jefferson are in the bottom tier, also known as the National Division.

Beaver Local is leaving after this school year, giving the AAC 15 teams.

Boardman, Warren G. Harding, East, Brookfield, Conneaut, Edgewood, Grand Valley, Pymatuning Valley and Steubenville for football are the names that have come up for possible admission to the AAC.

AAC Commissioner Rick King said the expansion committee meets today to come up with some decisions. The AAC vote, where the current membership of athletic directors and superintendents meet, is on Wednesday.

There’s plenty of things to ponder since the Ohio High School Athletic Association dropped the proposal of separation of public and parochial tournaments and came up with a competitive balance proposal that the OHSAA is still trying to sell to its member schools.

Then, there’s the issue of where each school will fall division-wise next fall — a process that occurs every two years.

Add to that — football is going from six to seven divisions.

“It does because people don’t know where they are size-wise in the fall,” King said. “A lot of people have used, ‘Where are we going to be football-wise and in basketball?’ This kind of throws a monkey wrench into it. What we’re ending up is the middle four or five schools that are very similar. If we go three tiers, somewhere we have to make a cutoff.

“No matter how you do it, somebody feels, ‘What if we all end up in the same football bracket state-wise and four of us are in this tier and two of us are in that tier? How is that fair?’ That’s a great example. It really is and that’s what some people are looking at.”

If Boardman, East and Harding are admitted, it would help bigger schools like Howland, Canfield and Austintown Fitch, the only Division I school in the AAC.

“With superintendents, comfort is something that everybody likes to be in — their comfort zone,” King said. “I wouldn’t say adding those three are a radical change, but adding those three gets some out of their comfort zone.”

As for Steubenville, it won’t get considered unless a top tier will be added for these bigger schools.

“We’re not really talking to them right now until we figure out if we’re letting anyone else in,” King said. “If we do expand the upper tier, then the Steubenville situation has some merit to it. If we don’t bring inHarding and Boardman, there’s no sense in talking to them.”

As for John F. Kennedy, King said the Eagles have made some inquiries, but no formal application.

“They made some inquiries and then they decided not to apply,” King said. “We’re kind of looking at public schools only. That’s one of the things we’ve stayed pretty consistent with.”

King is hopeful the expansion committee can come up with a good proposal for next Wednesday’s vote.

“We have a couple of ideas,” King said. “Hopefully, by the end of the week, we’ll have some of our bearings. Then, by the time we meet with the superintendents, we can come up with something and go from there.”