Changes may be in store for the way high schools are classified in Oregon and there could be a major shake-up in some of the established leagues where certain teams have held dominance and reached the state playoffs for many years.
On Oct. 18, the Oregon School Activities Association, (OSAA), the governing body for high school sports, began considering classification changes for the 2006-10 time period and one of the major changes being talked about was the creation of a Class 5A league.
According to reports, the idea of creating a Class 5A division was brought up about three years ago and this time the OSAA is apparently serious about it.
Currently, there are 82 schools in Oregon with student populations above 900, putting them in the 4A classification and the idea of creating a new division would drop this number to somewhere between 50-60.
Plans being discussed would include putting all schools with student populations in the sophomore through senior grades above 1,200 into the 5A classification and schools with 600-1,200 students in 4A.
Class 3A would range from 250-599, (the cut off is now 326-900), with 2A at 116-249, (a change from the current 116-325). Class 1A would remain the same for schools with 115 students or less.
Locally, Grant Union, with a student population of 254, would move into the 3A classification, but with the way people and jobs are leaving the county, the Prospectors would most likely remain a 2A school.
On the other hand, the Wapiti League would be saying bye-bye to Nyssa (314) and Vale (305), which would result in a major change in the makeup of the league, already depleted in the number of teams, seeing that former members Pine Eagle, Imbler and Joseph are now and will remain 1A schools.
Burns, rumored for the past few years as expressing a desire to move into a 2A classification, would remain in 3A, with its student population of 319.
The OSAA will discuss the topic of reclassification at its next meeting Nov. 15 in Wilsonville, and who knows what might happen.
Another rumor that has been circulating is the possible creation of a six-man football league for schools with small numbers of students that have the desire to field teams. By doing this, the schools would be able to retain their autonomy rather than having a combined team and possibly losing it.
In addition to losing a school's autonomy, combined teams often create problems, particularly in amount of time needed to travel to separate facilities for practice and games. Extended travel results in safety issues being raised, which is a concern for everyone involved.
This fact stands out when the Arlington/Ione football team combined for the 2004 season, and was the same when Monument/Dayville/Mitchell combined for a team a few years ago before going their separate ways.
Six-man football you say?
Believe it or not, the wide-open game of six-man ball is more popular than you might think at some of the rural high schools in Nebraska, Iowa and Oklahoma.
Even schools in North Carolina have six-man programs, which have been in place for many years.
Think about what a six-man league would have done this season for Monument/Dayville with a combined student population of 35. The Tigers were forced to cancel the football program due to a lack of players, which was a bad deal for the seniors who had been on the team since they were freshman.
Six-man football would give Spray and Wheeler, (which used to have its own team), the opportunity to field individual squads and Burnt River might have the chance to pick up a victory after years of coming out on the short-end of scores.
If nothing more, six-man football would give the schools' basketball players the opportunity to stay in shape and get ready for the upcoming hoop season.
Volleyball is fun, but somehow homecoming at a volleyball match just doesn't seem right. Maybe I'm strange, but to me the homecoming queen should be crowned at halftime while hanging onto the arm of a senior football player with the home team ahead 35-0.
Tim Adams may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 575-0710.