(7-24-17) The biggest upset in this year’s high school football season has already happened. The OHSAA’s competitive balance plan shocked the Midwest Athletic Conference, Mercer County and Region 24 members in Division VI when the changes were announced.
All five Mercer County schools are now grouped together under the new regional assignments. Coldwater, last season’s D V state runner-up drops a class, while Ft. Recovery, who lost to state runner-up Minster in the D VII Regional Final, moves up to join everyone in D VI.
With all five schools in the same region, it takes care of any chance of a repeat that took place in the 2015 State Finals:
During the 2015 finals weekend, Coldwater won the D V title, Ft. Recovery won their first ever football state title in D VII and Marion Local lost a heart-breaker in the D VI title game.
Other changes in Region 24, include another quality team, joining the mix, Covington, who moves up a class from D VII, the Buccs went 11-0 on the season and lost in the Regional semifinals to Ft. Recovery. Also joining the region is Troy Christian who moves up from D VII after a 9-2 season, while two D V schools, Northeastern and Deer Park move down.
Schools leaving the Region 24 mix due to the realignement is Riverdale who was moved to Region 22. Two schools left when they moved down to D VII, Antwerp is now in Region 26, while Triad is in Region 28. Three schools moved up up a class and left Region 24 for Region 20, Miami East, Summit Country Day and Purcell Marion.
Region 24 covers a lot of miles in Ohio from Allen County in the north to the Ohio River south, with Hamilton, Clermont and Brown County schools a part of the mix. 27 total schools are in the region, with 5 schools each in Allen and Mercer County.
Several coaches shared their thoughts on the new regional set-up that includes all five Mercer County schools:
Ft. Recovery Head Coach Brent Niekamp:
Having all 5 of us in the same region creates a huge opportunity for the team who makes it out. If you make it out of this region you are probably the best team in DVI with the scars to prove it. Of course it will be extremely difficult to get out of the region or even make it into the post season with so many quality teams in our region, and I mean quality teams beyond the five Mercer County teams. Just getting in is a major undertaking. That’s why its best not to worry about that stuff and just focus on playing at the highest level we can. If we do that, everything else will sort itself out.
Parkway Head Coach Shane Wellman:
Our region is a tough one and it just got tougher. If we can get to the playoffs we are sure to play a team or two we have already played during the regular season. I find it disappointing that the OHSAA has lumped almost all of the MAC teams in division 6. Parkway for example where I coach is an uphill battle to compete in the MAC year in and out. We are rewarded if we make the playoffs by facing division 5 and 6 champions for the last five years.
For the five Mercer County schools every MAC game will now hold special meaning in hopes to just qualify in the region for the playoffs. The first year of the set-up it will be interesting to see how computer points and how the seeding process and first-round game match-ups fall into place. The likely hood of the MAC schools meeting each other in the early rounds will now increase with this change.
The new OHSAA Competitive Balance plan will be under the microscope during this first season and at the end of the championship week it will be interesting to hear the feedback from across the state.
Will the winner of the 2017 D VI State Championship could come from Region 24? The odds look good for that to happen.