SOC votes on division realignment in 5 sports

Published 11:44 am Saturday, December 17, 2022

By Jim Walker

The Southern Ohio Conference is splitting up, but that doesn’t mean there are teams who will be parting ways.

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The 76-year-old athletic league has voted to have three divisions in volleyball, boys and girls basketball, and baseball and softball.

South Gallia joins the league in all sports for the 2023-24 school year. The small school division that includes St. Joseph, Notre Dame, Green, Sciotoville East, New Boston and Portsmouth Clay.

The middle school division has Symmes Valley, South Gallia, Oak Hill, Northwest, Beaver Eastern and Western.

The large school division will consist of Wheelersburg, Portsmouth West, Minford, Lucasville Valley, South Webster and Waverly.

South Webster is the smallest school among the large school division but elected to play up to be better prepared for tournament play and for larger gates.

Teams will be able to cross-schedule to fill their non-league schedule.

Manchester is expected to enter the league next season but only in football on a four-year trial basis.

If Manchester elects to become a full-time member and the league can add some additional larger schools, the league may divide football into three divisions.

The SOC has currently been reaching out to some other area schools.

The voting to divide some sports into three divisions failed on two earlier votes, but certain teams were kept in divisions together as requested which led to a passing vote of at least 75 percent majority.

“This was the third vote for us and this subject has been heavily discussed for a while,” said league secretary/treasurer Dave Stamm. “A lot of opinions shared with several different formats proposed. In fact, this is not the original divisions we voted on.”

The league currently has 18 teams and had 15 athletic directors voting in favor of the new division format with two against and one abstention. The first vote had 11 in favor and the second vote 12 giving a “yah.”

Only 13 of the current league schools offer football.

Stamm said the league will test the new realignment format and make adjustments as they go forward.

“The one good thing about this, and we also had superintendents get involved in these discussions, but nobody was scared to give their opinion about what they thought was best for their schools,” said Stamm.

“We’re still going to be working on some things because the end goal is we want everybody to have a chance to compete well and win. We hope this makes competition better for everybody and benefits most of the schools in the league.”