December 21, 2012
Last week the Oregon School Activities Association released three draft proposals for high school athletic classifications to kick off the four year classification cycle.
Next December the Association will determine leagues and classifications for the 2014-18 cycle, and Hood River Valley is hoping for better results than the last time around. When the OSAA switched to six-classifications in 2006, HRV, a 5A sized school, played up at the 6A level to compete in the East Portland area Mt. Hood Conference.
While great for travel, the conference was not so great for competition, with most HRV teams (with the exception of boys soccer) fighting just to stay in the middle of the pack. HRV had its eyes on another Portland area league, this time at the 5A level, during the process for the 2010-14 cycle. For most of the process HRV believed it would wind up in the Northwest Oregon Conference, which stretches from Sandy to Wilsonville to St. Helens.
In the closing months of the process, Hood River suddenly found itself in the the Intermountain process, where it played from 2002-06, along with east I-84 schools The Dalles-Wahtokna, Pendleton and Hermiston.
All four threw a fit, with Hermiston convincing the OSAA that the travel to Eastern Oregon in the winter was a safety hazard.
With the Portland area schools not wanting to travel east, and the I-84 schools not wanting to travel south, the OSAA lumped the four schools into the a conference all their own.
So you can image a few heads may have exploded when one draft put HRV, TDW, Hermiston and Pendleton into the IMC, and another has HRV TDW and Pendleton going to central Oregon and Hermiston playing in the East Portland Mt. Hood Conference.
"Hood River Valley has no intention of going to Central Oregon," HRV athletic director Keith Bassham said when I talked to him this week.
A third proposal puts the four CRC schools into a 5A "Pioneer League" the CRC schools joining Sandy, Milwaukie and Putnam to form an eastern division and Benson, Marshall, Franklin, Madison, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Wilson forming the west division.
That would make some sense, since I see the odds of the Mount Hood Conference willingly taking in Hermiston to be somewhere south of zero. However it sets up some long drives for the Portland based schools and a vast competitive disparity among the schools. The west division would likely be crushed by its eastern neighbors in football, but would turn around and return the favor come basketball season. Said league would also have schools ranging from under 400 students at Roosevelt to nearly 1,200 at Hermiston and Wilson.
This process will not be an easy one. An ever-growing Hermiston presents a problem for the OSAA. The Blulldogs are big enough to play at the 6A level, but once you get east of Troutdale, there are no 6A schools to play. Put Hermiston into the MHC and those schools will throw a fit. Put Hermiston into an East Oregon League and make HRV, TDW and Pendleton go to Central Oregon and those schools will wonder why Hermiston gets to play in Portland and not them.
What I also see from the three proposals is that OSAA is not afraid of breaking up traditional rivalries or leagues. And that may be the hardest part for some folks to wrap their head around. If the break up of some traditional rivalries leads to more competitive leagues and more time spent in class for student athletes, I’m all for it.
One other thing I see: There are no easy answers here. Good luck OSAA.