By Rick Palsgrove
The Ohio Capital Conference realigned its divisions again, but the change separates neighborhood rivals Groveport Madison and Canal Winchester.
The new OCC high school athletic realignment will be in effect starting with the 2020-21 school year. The five new divisions, which are not yet named, will be:
•Central Crossing, Groveport, Lancaster, Newark, Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg;
•Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany, Pickerington North, Westerville Central, Westland;
•Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Delaware, Dublin Scioto, Franklin Heights, Westerville North, Westerville South, Worthington Kilbourne;
•Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Orange, Olentangy Liberty, Upper Arlington;
•Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Darby, Olentangy, Olentangy Berlin, Marysville, Thomas Worthington.
“The biggest disappointment with this alignment is that the committee did not put us with our natural rival, Canal Winchester,” said Groveport Madison Athletic Director Steve Petros. “Hopefully another rival develops in time, but that remains to be seen. It is the main reason we voted no on the alignment package.”
When asked if Groveport Madison will schedule non-division games against Canal Winchester Petros said, “We will try to schedule Canal in a lot of sports. It remains to be seen if we can get football scheduled.”
Petros said realigning is a difficult task and the committee has a tough job.
“For the most part the alignment works for a lot of schools,” said Petros. “I haven’t been given a reason why the committee didn’t put Groveport and Canal, who are six miles apart and want to play each other, together. We thought this was a given, but it turns out it wasn’t.”
Petros said one of Groveport Madison’s goals is to get more competitive athletically on a consistent basis.
“Right now we have a lot of peaks and valleys, so it is hard to say what we will be most competitive in as we begin the new alignment,” said Petros.
As far as the affect of on travel for away contests with the new alignment, Petros said, “The distances are about the same as what we are dealing with now.”
Update on proposed new league
Late last year and early this year, Groveport Madison engaged in discussions with a group of schools located south and east of I-270 about the possibility of forming a new league.
“We are still actively looking into forming a new league,” said Petros. “Some of the schools are dealing with public issues and issues concerning their current league.”
He said eight schools are needed to form a new league.
“Right now we are trying to figure out if we have eight strong schools,” said Petros. “It is still a possibility. It is my guess that we will have a better idea by the end of March on whether it may happen. Groveport Madison is still very interested.”
Earlier this year Petros said Groveport Madison is interested in leaving the OCC and joining a newly formed league because of the constant realigning of the OCC.
“We believe the OCC is a great conference,” said Petros in January. “However, on the issue of realignment, single high school districts don’t have the same say as multi-high school districts. Alignment is the most important decision we make as a conference. Districts with multiple high schools have more votes when it comes to the OCC’s divisional alignments, which occur frequently. Single high school districts like ours have little say in the most important vote we take. If districts vote as a block, then two superintendents control 25 percent of the league and five superintendents control 50 percent.”
Petros said the schools discussing the new league have geographic, demographic and socio-economic similarities. He added the proposed new league would provide stability, an equal voice, competitiveness, local rivalries, and easier transportation.
Petros said Groveport Madison would have to notify the OCC by June 30 of its intentions to leave that conference if it decides to go. He said the earliest a new league could start would be fall of 2020 and that no name has been discussed yet for the possible new conference.
The OCC began with eight teams in 1968 and has since grown to 32 teams located throughout central Ohio.
In its more than a century of athletic competition, the Groveport Madison Cruisers have competed in three leagues: the Franklin County League from the early 1900s to the 1957-58 season; the Mid-Eight League from 1958-59 to 1973-74; and the OCC from 1974-75 to the present.