Valley Christian accepted into EOAC

LISBON — The Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference will be back to eight teams soon.

Superintendents representing the seven current members voted 6-1 at Lisbon’s War Memorial Stadium Friday to add Valley Christian beginning with the 2020-21 school year.

“I’ve been AD now 12 years and we’ve always wanted to be in a local conference we thought we could compete in and add value to,” Valley Christian athletic director Dolph Carroll said.

EOAC commissioner Howard Friend said he received an email from Valley Christian two weeks ago expressing interest in joining the EOAC.

“I think they’re a perfect fit into our league,” he said. “A lot of schools play them already and they’re close.”

Toronto left the EOAC after two seasons, citing financial reasons because of lower gates at home games.

The league is playing with seven schools this school year.

“We’re thrilled,” said Carroll, who is also Valley’s head basketball coach. “We played in two conferences that have been great conferences to play in, but they are much bigger than we are. This is as big as we will be. This is who we are.”

The EOAC is currently in its third year and Valley will give it a nice blend of smaller schools. In football, it will be Division VI Columbiana East Palestine, Southern and United and Division VII Leetonia, Lisbon, Wellsville and Valley Christian.

“We were fortunate enough we got into the North Coast League and the Portage Trail, we were fortunate to be in that the last two years,” Carroll said.

He said he notified the Portage Trail Conference of Valley’s intentions to join the EOAC on Friday afternoon.

“The Portage Trail has kind of had its ups and downs,’ he said. “We’ll finish the league this year.”

It looks like all sports but football will be ready for EOAC play next school. Carroll said that will have to wait until the 2021-22 school year.

“I don’t think we can get into the league next year because we have two-year deals, but I think everything else will be OK,” he said.

“It’s a procedure to get the schedules. Hopefully, we can get that taken care of next year.”

“Football is always toughest because they are two-year contracts,” Friend said.

Valley has played some of the teams in the league in various sports, especially Lisbon.

“We’ve always played s many local schools as we could,” Carroll said.

Valley Christian doesn’t have its own football stadium and plays its games at Poland. The Eagles hosted the Lisbon football team on Sept. 14.

“We’re at Poland now,” Carroll said. “We’ve got another venue that has offered us. It will be just as nice.”

The EOAC started in the fall of 2017 after the Inter-County League disbanded after 12 years. The ITCL was formed when the Tri-County League and Inter-County League merged.

Now the EOAC starts another chapter for small schools in the area.

“We’re very thankful they even considered us,” Carroll said. “It’s truly a blessing for all of our programs moving forward. It’s happened so quick and so fast for us. It’s been a two-week whirlwind.”