Until recently, Clear Fork officials had sought to join the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference to prevent its athletes from having to continue to compete with much larger schools.
It’s now looking like that move is not going to be made, according to Clear Fork Athletic Director Joe Tresey, and other options are now being explored.
He said that because of recent changes within the MOAC itself, Clear Fork Junior High athletes would have to travel very long distances for games, if the school were to join the MOAC, he explained. Tresey described this travel issue as a “deal breaker.”
In November, Clear Fork was invited to join the MOAC, which consists of eight schools including Galion, Buckeye Valley and North Union, Tresey said. Originally, the average travel time for CF junior high athletes was much less: an average distance of 21 miles per school. They would have played at such schools at Mount Gilead, Cardington, East Knox, Centerburg, Fredericktown, Highland and Northmor. However, he added, these schools, known within the MOAC as the “Blue” division, left the MOAC in December to form their own league. Their departure would have required Clear Fork athletes to travel an average of 46.8 miles to the MOAC’s “Red” division schools: River Valley, Elgin, Jonathan Alder, Marion Grant, Marion Pleasant, North Union and River Valley.
“We never would would have done that,” Tresey said. “We never even considered doing that.”
Tresey said Clear Fork has continued to explore other options and has been in talks with neighboring school districts to discuss the possibility of joining a new league. He said Clear Fork met with representatives from Shelby, Ontario, Galion and Marion Pleasant to discuss the possibility of creating a new league.
As of press time, Clear Fork was scheduled this week with these schools, as well as others that Tresey declined to name, to discuss the matter further. He said that Shelby and Ontario would be critical to the formation of this new, unnamed league. These two schools are contemplating leaving the league of which they currently belong, the Northern Ohio League. Tresey said that this proposed, new league not be created unless Shelby and Ontario leaves the NOL.
Clear Fork is currently a member of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, which includes Madison and Mount Vernon. The desire to change conferences stems from that the fact that currently, in the OCC, Clear Fork athletes are competing with athletes from much larger schools. Of the eight teams in the OCC, Clear Fork has the lowest potential enrollment and therefore the lowest number of potential student athletes. Five of the eight teams have an enrollment of over 600, nearly twice that of Clear Fork. In a previous interview, Tresey stated that Clear Fork athletes are competing with much larger schools.
“There are not many schools in Ohio playing in a league like we are,” Tresey has said. “It’s a testament to our athletes and coaches to compete at the level they do.”
He also described a different possible conference change for Clear Fork. The OCC recently invited Shelby, Ontario, Dover and New Philadelphia to the table to discuss the possibility of forming a two division, “East-West” league: the Western division would be composed of Clear Fork, Lexington, Ontario, Shelby, Madison and Mount Vernon; the Eastern division would consist of Wooster, Ashland, Mansfield, West Holmes, Dover and New Philadelphia.
“Right now we basically have two options,” Tresey said. “The OCC with [the East-West] division and the possibility of this new league.”
Tresey said these scenarios are proposals still under discussion and any conference change would require the approval of the Clear Fork School Board.