Local football teams learn new division placements

Correspondent file photo / Michael G. Taylor. Hubbard’s Ben Wilcox stiff arms a Girard defender during the 2021 football season. Hubbard will move from Division III to Division IV.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association released new divisional breakdowns Monday for the 2022-2023 high school fall sports season.

Divisions for most Mahoning Valley football programs remained unchanged, but several local teams will play in a different division this upcoming season.

East, Hubbard and Niles all moved down from Division III to Division IV. East and Niles’ move was due to competitive balance, while Hubbard’s move was due to lower enrollment numbers.

“I think it’s well known that Division III Region 9 has been very good, but when you look at Region 13, there isn’t much difference,” said Niles head coach Jim Parry. “To us, all of that is uncontrollable. If they put us in Division I, our goals would remain the same.

“It’s probably something we will mention to our players only because they will ask, but it affects nothing from our approach. We know that the Northeast-8 prepares us for the postseason, so if we compete there, we will be ready come playoff time.”

East head coach Mark Assion said the Golden Bears are “looking forward” to the change and hopes that it will motivate more young players to get involved and join the team.

“It gives us another chance to show our value and compete with teams our size,” Assion said.

Hubbard head coach Brian Hoffman said the Eagles have had experience playing in both Divisions III and IV over the years.

“Both are equally as challenging,” he added.

Lakeview will move down from Division IV to Division V due to competitive balance. Bulldogs head coach Sam Bellino said he wasn’t surprised given the school’s current enrollment trends.

“It doesn’t change the fact that we still need to take care of our schedule — a tough out-of-conference and obviously our very competitive conference,” Bellino said. “I had to double check and triple check to see that (six-time state champion) Kirtland moved down too. But there are some really good teams in Division V Region 17, including our conference champs (South Range) the last few years.”

Crestview and Grand Valley are also each moving down from Division V to Division VI next season, both due to enrollment numbers.

“Our numbers are down a little bit, so that’s going to help more than anything,” said Crestview head coach Paul Cusick. “I like where we’re at. It’s something new — we haven’t been in Division VI, I don’t even know how long it’s been, but we’ve been in Division V for a long time. So it’ll be interesting to see if we’re able to get to week 11 and do some things there. But other than that you just have to see what the teams are and how you match up with them in your region.”

The only two schools moving up are Jackson-Milton and Valley Christian. The Blue Jays and Eagles are both moving from Division VII to Division VI — Jackson-Milton due to enrollment numbers and Valley Christian due to competitive balance.

Finally, Springfield and Western Reserve are both moving down from Division VI to Division VII, the Tigers due to competitive balance and the Blue Devils due to enrollment numbers.

In a press release on Monday, the OHSAA stated that it uses enrollment data provided by the Ohio Department of Education to determine each school’s base enrollment numbers for girls and boys sports, which will be used for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years. Divisional breakdowns for the sports that utilize competitive balance data, which include soccer, volleyball and football in the fall, are reconfigured every year, while non-competitive balance sports are reconfigured every two years using only base enrollment numbers.



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