By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay High is still the smallest, Fostoria and Ottawa-Glandorf went from smallest to biggest and Region 23 has gone retro.
Those were some of the takeaways, at least for football, on Friday when the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced divisional assignments for the 2020 fall sports of football, soccer and volleyball.
For the second straight year, Findlay will be Ohio’s smallest Division I program with a football adjusted enrollment (FAE) number of 604. That figure is based on a male enrollment in grades 9, 10 and 11 of 600, plus a 4 added for competitive balance.
Cincinnati Elder has a lower male enrollment in the three grades used to determine that number (570), but a higher competitive balance factor (47) for a 617 total.
Cincinnati St. Xavier has the state’s highest football adjusted enrollment at 1,494 (1,083 enrollment, 411 competitive balance). The largest school based on enrollment (grades 9, 10, 11) only is Mason at 1,299.
In separating Ohio’s high school football programs into divisions, the OHSAA puts the 72 biggest schools in Division I, then divides the remaining programs — 638 this year — into six fairly even divisions. For the 2020 season, there are 106 schools in Divisions II and V, 105 in Divisions IV and VI, 104 in Division III and 112 in Division VII (FAE of 121 or less).
Vanlue (31 enrollment, 6 competitive balance, 37 FAE total) remains the smallest public school in the state playing 11-man football, although Hillcrest Academy, a private school in Cincinnati, has a lower FAE total (29-0–29).
While most schools in the area will see no changes in what division and region they have been assigned to, nine will be making a move.
Four schools — Fostoria, Ottawa-Glandorf, Hopewell-Loudon and Ada — have dropped a division this year.
Fostoria and O-G, who were among the state’s smaller Division IV schools last season, will this year be among the biggest schools in Division V. Both have FAE totals of 207, tying them with Cincinnati Summit Country Day, Warrensville Heights, New Lexington and Blanchester as the biggest schools in that division.
A change in division corresponds with a change in regional assignments as well, and Fostoria and O-G will both be switching from Region 14 to Region 18 for the computer rankings that determine playoff teams.
O-G finished sixth last year in Region 14 computer points, then knocked off third-seeded Galion and No. 2-seeded Wauseon in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Titans fell 17-10 in the regional final to eighth-seeded Clyde, which went on to win the Division IV state championship.
Going from one of the smaller schools in Division IV to one of the bigger schools in Division V may sound like a plus for an O-G program that returns a number of key personnel from last year’s regional runner-up. Then again, the 17.3500 computer points O-G earned in Region 14 a year ago would have placed them 10th in Region 18.
“I see the move as a challenge,” said O-G coach Ken Schriner, who has compiled a 177-93 career record in his 24 seasons as the Titans’ head coach.
“Last year we finished sixth in our Division IV region. If we would’ve been in that Division V region, we would have missed the playoffs altogether. (Region 18) is very competitive every year.
“It’s also a region that’s very spread out. You might have a first-round playoff game involving Versailles in the south to a school on the far side of Cleveland.”
Other area Division V teams already in Region 18 include Liberty-Benton, Elmwood and Lakota.
Hopewell-Loudon (98-23–121) and Ada (110-11–121) are both dropping from Division VI to Division VII based on their football adjusted enrollment numbers. This year, they will be the biggest schools in Division VII, along with Lima Central Catholic (109-12–121), St. Henry (120-1–121) and Howard East Knox (116-5–121).
Hopewell-Loudon and Ada will also be moving to Region 26 this season. Hardin Northern was Division VII last year and will be again. But the Polar Bears, coming off an 8-3 season and the school’s first playoff appearance in 14 years, are also making the move to Region 26, which includes Arcadia, Arlington, Cory-Rawson, Leipsic, McComb, North Baltimore, Pandora-Gilboa, Patrick Henry and Vanlue.
Bluffton, Columbus Grove, Riverdale and Van Buren all remain in Division VI this season. But all four will be involved in one of this year’s major overhauls in joining several other schools switching from Region 23 to Region 22.
In a major rearrangement, created primarily by enrollment numbers and competitive balance factors, 26 northwest Ohio schools were switched from Region 22 to Region 23 last season. What that created was not only a region that extended from the Michigan border in the north to just south of Celina, but also a collection of traditional powerhouse programs that collectively had won 15 state championships over a 30-year period and made a combined 54 playoff appearances over the previous five years.
Region 23 proved so strong that Gibsonburg, despite a 10-0 regular season, did not qualify for the playoffs. The eight schools that did qualify included Anna, which backed up its No. 1-ranking in the state polls by winning the Division VI state title, and five other state-ranked teams.
“Competitive balance causes changes in each division and region every year,” Beau Rugg, OHSAA Senior Director of Officiating and Sport Management, said last year in explaining the huge turnover in Regions 22 and 23.
This year, 16 schools that were switched from Region 22 to Region 23 will be switching back to Region 22. Carey, which did not make a switch to Region 23 because of location, was and remains in Region 22. The Blue Devils won four of the final five regular season games in 2019 to claim the eighth and final spot in the Region 22 playoffs, then earned playoff wins over Collins Western Reserve (50-41) and Hillsdale (7-0) before falling 32-21 to East Knox in the regional final.