As of Friday, December 11, 2015
The Hood River Valley High School football team will have a longer league schedule and face some new opponents next year, as the OSAA executive board announced this week that HRV football will be joining the Intermountain Conference for at least the next two seasons.
HRVHS Athletic Director Tom Ames said the move was prompted due to a request from The Dalles High School to have OSAA grant the football team independent status, which would remove the team from the Columbia River Conference and allow the Riverhawks to play an independent schedule.
“They will play schools in lower classifications in order to compete and build numbers in the program,” he explained. “They are very low in numbers for juniors and seniors; it’s a safety issue for the younger players.”
With just Pendleton, Hermiston, and HRV remaining in the CRC, the OSAA decided to merge the three schools with the IMC: a 5A five-school athletic conference that contains Bend, Summit, Redmond, Ridgeview, and Mountain View, which are all located in the greater Bend area.
Ames was supportive of the OSAA decision. HRV was previously in the IMC from 2002-06.
“We’ve known for a while that the plan would be to place us with the IMC for the next two years and I think it’s a good decision overall,” he said. “This will definitely up the level of competition for the football team. At the same time, it affords us a solid conference schedule that matches the size of the other 5A conferences across the state.”
Ames said that the ruling only affects football, with all other HRV sports remaining in the CRC for at least the next two years. Every four years, the OSAA evaluates classifications and league assignments, with the next four-year cycle beginning in 2018.
According to the Bend Bulletin, the OSAA has not yet made any determination as to what playoff qualifications would be for the eight-team conference, although both the Mid-Willamette and Northwest Oregon conferences — eight- and nine-team conferences, respectively — send the top four teams to the post-season.
In other 5A football news, The Oregonian reports that Liberty High School will bump up to Class 6A next season thanks to the school’s burgeoning enrollment figures.