SIDNEY — Sidney High School’s fall sports schedules didn’t need much redesigning, but what was needed is quickly getting done.
The Miami Valley League announced Friday its member schools would play only conference opponents during regular season this fall. Superintendents of the league’s 10 schools cited standardizing COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines as the main factor to limiting play to only league contests.
The move wiped out nonconference games for Sidney and the league’s other nine schools.
Sidney athletic director Mitch Hoying anticipates most or all teams will have the same number of contests as a normal season, though, because MVL schools are scheduling additional games and meets to make up for the eliminated nonconference contests.
“The great thing about sticking to your own conference (in this situation) is the flexibility (with scheduling),” Hoying said. “I know those other nine athletic directors really well.
“We all have the same vision for what things should be like this fall, so you’re more apt to work together than maybe you would be with an out-of-conference school that you don’t know everything going on with them.
“We’re going to work together to just get games scheduled and played, gets kids active and reward them for all the effort they’ve put in over the summer as this stuff has gone on.”
There are still a few things to figure out — including exactly which games will count toward divisional and overall league championship races. Hoying said discussions on that topic are ongoing, as are discussions on how to handle cancelling and rescheduling games if there are any coronavirus outbreaks at member schools.
“With this pandemic, I think it’s never been less important to win games. Right now, it’s just about getting to play games,” Hoying said. “All other considerations are secondary to just trying to get games played.
“There is going to be a point that there’s some health concerns and a team won’t play that week. So whoever that opponent is, if there’s another school with (health) concerns that cancels, those two (remaining) teams can play. You may just end up playing people two or three times in a row. Who knows how it’ll work out.”
The Miami Valley League, which is entering its second year after reforming in 2019, already heavily relies on conference scheduling. Schools face each other twice in most sports and don’t play many nonconference games.
For example, the OHSAA permits volleyball teams to play 22 regular-season matches. The MVL schedules 18 matches, leaving only four possible nonconference contests.
“The MVL is really built to play a lot of league contests to begin with, so we haven’t had to schedule that many additional (games),” Hoying said shortly after leaving a meeting with MVL ADs on Wednesday. “The one that’s kind of problematic is cross country, and that’s what a large part of our meeting was about today.
“You (normally) just have one league meet, but we’re figuring it out (for this year). We’ve got plenty of dates figured out and a decent smattering of courses to run, so I think those kids will be taken care of.”
The league’s football teams play schedules that consist of nonconference opponents to open the season and conference opponents for the remaining nine games.
The MVL decided to move up its Week 10 games — which feature rivalry matchups — to Week 1 to make up for the canceled nonconference contests. Those Week 10 matchups pit traditional or neighboring rivals against each other, like Troy and Piqua or Xenia and Fairborn.
Sidney, which was originally scheduled to face Central Buckeye Conference member Bellefontaine in Week 1, will open its football season against rival Greenville. The two squads will battle for the Little Brown Jug on Aug. 28 at Greenville’s Harmon Field.
Sidney coach Adam Doenges said the squad is looking forward to facing the Green Wave in Week 1.
“I think the kids are pretty much handling this in stride,” Doenges said. “They’re going with the flow of whatever happens. Obviously it’s disappointing we can’t play Bellefontaine, but it’s a nice consolation we get to open up with Greenville right away.”
Tentatively, all MVL schools will face their rival opponents again in Week 10, with home locations flipping to the opposite school as the Week 1 matchup. That means the Yellow Jackets could host the Green Wave on Oct. 30 at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
But Week 10 can also serve as a makeup week for any games that are postponed during the season due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
“If the wheels fall off sometime during the regular season and some teams can’t continue, we’re going to use that week to just get some matchups in so everybody can get a chance to play Week 10,” Hoying said.
“It’s going to take a lot of good communication and cooperation to get games in (this fall). That’s going to be increased by staying in your league.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.