The Ohio High School Athletic Association is not in the business of teasing your brain. However, some of the high school football nuggets conjured up this summer based on the new divisional breakdowns can be mind-boggling, at first thought.
For example, Versailles and Marion Local football programs from the Midwest Athletic Conference won state titles in two separate divisions last December. This fall, it’s possible for only one of the two to earn a championship. And it must happen in a single division in which neither school competed a year ago.
Huh? LOL, you say. Sounds like a new version of the definition of “oxymoron,” right?
Well, as a result of the OHSAA’s new male enrollment counts in grades nine through 11 from last October, the Tigers dropped from Division V down to VI and the Flyers climbed from VII to VI, barely, by one boy. So, it’s very possible for the two schools to meet, likely in November, in the southwest region of “D-VI.” Repeat state titles for both schools can’t be attained.
Versailles and Marion Local were both D-V schools in the six-flight format in 2008, which is the last time they were designated for the same football division. The two MAC programs collide in the regular season at Versailles on Sept. 23.
Both clubs should be strong again in 2022, although Versailles graduated more football seniors last spring than did Marion Local. In a contest not nearly as close as the final score, the Tigers clipped Kirtland, 20-16, in the 2021 D-V championship. The Flyers flew by Newark Catholic, 42-7, in the 2021 D-VII championship.
The Tigers program has earned seven state football crowns and finished second three times. The Flyers own a dozen titles and have also been runner-up on three occasions. Each has beaten small school dynamo Kirtland for all the marbles.
Oddly enough, Kirtland also changed divisions for the coming season and slid to D-VI, joining the Tigers and Flyers. And, thus, a rematch deep in the 2022 playoffs between Kirtland and one of the two MAC schools is alive.
Elsewhere in the football-heavy MAC, powerhouse Coldwater avoided a logjam in D-VI, Region 24, and inched up from D-VI to D-V. Minster and Fort Recovery, both in D-VI last year, are in D-VII this season.
Various modifications from 2021 to 2022 occurred to the north, as well. D-III St. Mary’s changed to D-IV and from Region 12 to 14, and D-V Lima Bath changed to D-IV and moved from Region 18 to 14. Thus, like Versailles and Marion Local, St. Marys and Lima Bath are together in the same division this fall after being two divisions apart.
Want to be even more confused? Spencerville, a D-VII school last year in football, leapfrogged D-VI all the way to D-V this season. Yep, another brain teaser.
Shake ups in west central Ohio represent only a sample of the many shifts in divisions that took place statewide among “public” and “non-public” schools for 2022 football.
Notice the introduction of the term “non-public.” Such districts’ enrollment numbers and resulting “athletic counts” were especially hard hit this fall by the “competitive balance” factor.
You see, earlier this month, the OHSAA announced its use of fall 2021 enrollment information from the Ohio Department of Education to determine each school’s base enrollment for girls and boys sports in both the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.
Division breakdowns for sports governed by the OHSAA and also affected by “competitive balance” data, including football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball, are configured each and every school year. Non-competitive balance sports are reconfigured every other year using only the base enrollments acquired from the ODE.
Competitive Balance defines “from where and how a district or school receives its students and the effects of such on athletic success.” It was created several years ago by OHSAA membership, and then modified and tweaked some more, in an attempt to “even the playing field.”
Ten years back, a study showed that 43 percent of the state championships in selected team sports between 1999 and 2010 were won by non-public schools, even though non-public schools made up only 17 percent of the total membership of the OHSAA.
Today in Ohio, the Competitive Balance, or CB, formula determines that non-public schools without defined attendance districts can be assessed a football athletic-count spike that “multiplies by three” the number of rostered student-athletes who did not maintain continuous enrollment in the same school system of education since the start of the seventh grade. Such students are classified as CB “Tier 2.” “Seven” is the multiplier for each “Tier 2” athlete in sports other than football.
Keep in mind, for such non-public sports participants, it “does not matter” where they and their parents currently reside.
Meanwhile, public schools do base Tiers on residency, because they do have defined geographic boundaries.
For example, “Tier 1” is applied for each public school student in a single high school district, if he or she and “at least one parent” reside in the school’s attendance zone and the student has maintained continuous enrollment inside the district since seventh grade. The number “one” is the multiplier for a “Tier 1” athlete.
In short, a student’s tier is determined based on how the student came to a school to have a “sports participation opportunity.” At the OHSAA website, ohsaa.org, additional details can be discovered by viewing a page entitled, “Competitive Balance 101.”
Throughout the state, the OHSAA and Competitive Balance have received major support in their effort to bring more fairness to team sports and greatly improve a system that places schools in certain divisions as a result of enrollment and other highly related considerations.
But there is a twist to this story’s plot. A huge one. The big boys get bigger.
Unfortunately, a school the size of private institution Cincinnati St. Xavier is not impacted, despite a massive 63 percent leap in its revised athletic count. Thus, a brain teaser of major proportions.
St. X simply continues to climb the endless ladder of male enrollment within D-I. Already a mammoth juggernaut in football, the Bombers saw their athletic count grow by a whopping 653 from a standard male enrollment of 1038 last October to Ohio’s largest CB-adjusted enrollment of 1691 for the coming sports seasons.
So, how many new students with a “Tier 2” classification are reflected in X‘s updated athletic count? Go get your calculator to find out. Maybe X should be required to field two or three D-I football teams!
And here’s another twist regarding the impact of CB in girls basketball. On the surface, it seems that Cincinnati Country Day, a state semifinal team last March and regional winner over both Fort Loramie and Tri-Village, might be crying the blues. The private school in Indian Hill is enduring a booming athletic count increase of over 50 percent that advanced the hoops program from D-IV to D-III. A specific CB count hike of 49 using the multiplier of seven for basketball reveals the possible addition of seven “Tier 2” student-athletes.
However, Country Day may not be too displeased after all. Its league rival and 2022 D-III state champion Purcell-Marian was forced from D-III up to D-II. And perennial D-IV tournament obstacles, like Fort Loramie, Tri-Village and Russia, will no longer be in Country Day’s way.
Competitive Balance can affect public schools, as well. An actual reduction in the CB enrollment previously assessed Tri-County North altered this school from D-III to D-IV in girls basketball for the coming season. National Trail also moved to D-IV after an enrollment decrease. These two programs will likely be slotted into an over-loaded D-IV sectional at Brookville or Trotwood-Madison.
Interestingly, Houston and Mechanicsburg, which both played in the D-IV girls sectional at Sidney last February, are now D-III because of rising female enrollment. Houston added six girls; Mechanicsburg, ten.
Thus, there’s another twist due to the fallout of new divisional breakdowns. Which schools will be sent to Sidney to balance out the number of teams participating in southwest district sectional tourneys?
One thing for sure, the fate of last year’s regional finalist Tri-Village is likely certain. Expect the Patriots to stay put down south with newcomers National Trail and Tri-County North and not join Russia and Fort Loramie up north.
Maybe, at about the time this twist is straightened out, another one gets untangled.
Imagine, in late fall, being entertained by Versailles and Marion Local, with 19 state titles between them, as they decide their playoff fate teasing an overflow crowd with a thrilling head-to-head battle on the gridiron.
You can thank the new division breakdowns for making it happen.
For updated lists of the seven divisions in football using the Competitive Balance formula, go to https://www.ohsaa.org/Sports-Tournaments/Football/Football-2022.
There was no change among the four Shelby County high school football programs. Sidney remained D-II; Anna, D-VI, and Fort Loramie and Lehman Catholic, D-VII.