Mathews exploring league move
A change may provide a more balanced, competitive environment for the students.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- The Inter-County League, stable for more than a decade, is preparing for change.
Mathews High is investigating the possibility of leaving the ICL and joining two other leagues in some capacity, officials confirmed.
"We've had trouble competing in the ICL, especially in football," Mathews athletic director Robert Rozycki said Thursday. "We want to give our kids a chance to compete every Friday night."
The plan being discussed involves Mathews joining the newly-formed Northeast Athletic Conference in every sport but football. The football team would compete in the East Suburban Conference.
"We'd hate to lose them. They've been with us since 1991," ICL commissioner John Davis said.
In addition to Mathews, the eight-team ICL is made up of Jackson-Milton, Lowellville, Mineral Ridge, McDonald, South Range, Springfield and Western Reserve.
"If they would leave, we would still be playing them in non-league games," Davis said of the Mustangs. "There's no bad feelings either way. It's a question of where they think they can compete."
Within the past week, Rozycki and other school officials have met with officials from the NAC and ESC about the proposed move.
Rozycki also weighed the move in front of Mathews board members Wednesday night.
"It was the first time we got to see what they were considering," said Roy Pratt, board president. "If the two conferences provide a more balanced competitive environment for our students, we're interested in investigating it."
In the past five seasons, Mathews has won just three of 34 ICL football games and seven of 50 overall.
"We want to get the word out into the community that we're considering this and elicit some feedback," Pratt said.
In its first year, the NAC is made up of Bloomfield, Bristol, Lordstown, Maplewood, Pymatuning Valley and Southington. Badger, from the Trumbull Athletic Conference, will become a member in the spring.
Mathews officials are expected to attend the NAC's executive meeting Feb. 20, said Southington athletic director Craig Lefkowitz.
The Mustangs have until the school year ends to notify the ICL of their intentions to leave. They wouldn't join a new league until 2004.
"If they would leave, we would be looking for a replacement, or maybe even expand the league," Davis said.
There has been interest in the ICL from Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Portage county high schools, said Davis, who declined to identify the suitors.
"If and when it happens, we need to see who is interested and start piecing it together," Davis said of replacing Mathews.
The ESC is made up of Fairport Harbor, Ledgemont, Lutheran East and Ashtabula Sts. John & amp; Paul. Southington will become a member for football in 2004.