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North Marion 2019 4A Special District 2 League Champs!

| October 26,2019

North Marion 2019 4A Special District 2  League Champs!

How big was Friday night for The North Marion Huskies? Well let’s start with the first outright league Football title, in at least 60 years. 

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| September 13,2018

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You are here: Home More Blogs MWL/SWC Blog The OSAA takes a test, and flunks it terribly


The OSAA takes a test, and flunks it terribly

The OSAA has a geography problem.


In 2006, when the OSAA first split the former 4A classification into two separate entities (6A and 5A), the magical/random enrollment cut-off between the two was 1521.


Spring forward, if you will, to 2014. South of Salem, there are exactly four schools with enrollments that meet that cut-off: North and South Medford, Roseburg, and Grants Pass. Every single other school in the state that meets that cut-off? North of Salem.



And therein lies the geographical dilemma the OSAA is faced with: what do you do when nobody within a four hour drive up and down I-5 is close enough in enrollment to play in the same league, let alone be in the same classification, as those four southern schools?


You cheat. You slash the enrollment cut-off down to 1258.


Now, your first thought might be – why 1258? What kind of random cluster is that? It was my first thought, ayway. Then I looked at the projected enrollment figures for 2014, and it all made sense. There it was. South Eugene: projected enrollment, 1258.


Also (slightly) above 1258 are Thurston (1262), Willamette (1318), and Sheldon (1340).



So, wait. Hold the phone. Based on this entirely arbitrary number the OSAA came up with, there a four schools in the southernmost part of our great state with enrollments north of 6A… and now, like magic, there are four schools in the Eugene area with enrollments right at the 6A cut-off. What luck!


The facts are these: South Eugene, Thurston, and Willamette really have no business being 6A schools. They just don’t. The enrollments aren’t there. The OSAA says the enrollments are there, but that’s a ridiculously transparent lie. The enrollment cut-off sits where it sits because the OSAA couldn’t have the Medfords, Grants Pass, and Roseburg all by their lonesome, and truth is Sheldon, despite having a relatively modest enrollment compared to just about every other 6A schools, needs to play 6A. Their athletic department is just a little cut above the norm.


There was a geography problem, and the OSAA did something to fix it. The problem is, they didn’t do a very good job.


In a time where nobody has any money, tell me against why Willamette is going to take a three-hour bus ride to play a league football game at South Medford?


There are a plethora of legitimate 6A schools in Salem, was the extra hour’s bus ride too much to overcome so the OSAA had to create 6A schools in the Eugene area to accommodate?


Let me get something out into the open: I don’t really care about the postseason. It doesn’t bother me that Willamette, South Eugene, and Thurston are 6A schools because their odds of winning a state title went from quasi-alive to zero because the OSAA fudged the numbers and declared that they were all 6A. That doesn’t really matter. To me, anyway.


What matters, to me, is the tradition of Friday night lights to area football fans. Do you remember going to football games when you were in high school? ‘Course you do. Do you remember going to every single one in high school? I do. My cousin is a junior at South Eugene this year. Do you know who missed half the football games this season, because the drive is too ridiculously long and the gas money too expensive to drive all over Southern Oregon? He did. So did a lot of kids in the 6A Southwest Conference. When you support a team who has a football game three hours away, that happens.


I suppose my big question is this: we have hybrid leagues all over the state in virtually every sport save football. This is a MWL blog, so let’s use the MWL as an example.


We have a hybrid MWL in boys and girls basketball, in volleyball, in baseball and softball. Since 2010, Sheldon, South Eugene, and Thurston have all been 6A. Willamette, Marist, Springfield, North Eugene, and Churchill have all been 5A. The schools play one another in league games. At the end of the regular season, they go to separate postseasons: Sheldon, South, and Thurston, if they qualify, jet off to the 6A playoffs. The 5A schools go to the 5A playoffs. The hybrid league names a 6A champion, and a 5A champion.


Honestly, it kind of sucks, but I’m a traditionalist, so let me get past that for a second. Do you know what doesn’t suck? Playing one another. Playing city rivalries that go back sixty, seventy years. Decades and decades. And I live with all this new hybrid nonsense because quite honestly, I’d rather see Thurston play Springfield in one of the state’s most heated rivalries than watching Thurston play North Medford in a half empty gym because one side’s fanbase scoffs at traveling three hours each way for a basketball game.


Why in the world aren’t we doing this for football? Why are we denied Thurston vs. Springfield, South Eugene vs. North Eugene, Sheldon vs. Marist? Why is Willamette being told they need to go play league games against Grants Pass, a school they have zero history with and are practically in separate time zones, when Willamette has SEVEN area schools all roughly the same size as them within a twenty minute drive?


Twenty minutes. Thurston in East Springfield and Willamette in the Bethel area of Eugene have the greatest distance between them in the MWL. And it takes twenty minutes to drive from one school to the other, hopping on Beltline and floating through traffic.


Twenty minutes.


But no, go play South Medford. That makes sense to everybody, right?


Like I said. I don’t really care about the postseason. Call Thurston a 6A school if you must. That’s not the issue. Send them off to play Jesuit in the playoffs. Whatever. The postseason is a very small, very finite time. The regular season is what matters. The regular season is 2-3 months long. The regular season is where your rivalries are, your Friday night traditions, the games that mean the most.


That’s all I’ve got. Why is a hybrid league okay for virtually every other high school sport, but football has to be different? Why can’t we have a hybrid MWL? Why can’t there be a hybrid Southern Oregon Conference, with the Medfords, Grants Pass, Roseburg, Crater, Ashland, and Eagle Point?


These schools were together for decades! DECADES! Why can’t they anymore?


Send them off to separate postseasons, that’s fine. But why are we wasting so much time, energy, and money sending the 6A half of the MWL to play with the 6A half of the SOC, and  the 5A half of the MWL to play with the 5A half of the SOC… when they could just play locally, together?


In games locales want to see?


In front of actual fans, and not half-empty stadiums?


There’s still room for non-league games. With 7 MWL schools, and 7 SOC schools, there’s still room for three non-league games for everybody in the traditional 9-game regular season. Sheldon can still go out and schedule Central Catholic, or Roseburg, or whoever they jolly well wish. You could even work something out between the two leagues so that they play one another on a rotating basis non-league to cut down on travel.  


I know the OSAA had a hard job to do. There were tough decisions to be made. This just didn't seem like one of them. 


I know for a fact South Eugene, Willamette, and Thurston wanted no part of 6A. The OSAA could have accomodated. 


The OSAA had options. They had better options than what they chose to go with.


They flunked this geography test. 


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