Ed Puskas: Changes have come; more are on the way


Change is inevitable. Resistance is futile.

It doesn’t matter if the subject is politics, culture, technology or sports. No matter how comfortable and familiar something becomes, it’s not going to last.

There was a time when the Wing T was all the rage in high school football.

“Pass” was literally and figuratively a four-letter word to most coaches.

The prevailing opinion on throwing the football was, “Three things can happen when you pass the football and two of them are bad.”

But over the years, the spread offense and its variations trickled down from the NFL and college football and now a high school team that runs the ball 75 percent of the time is a dusty throwback to a long-forgotten age.

Gone are the days when you could count on two running teams getting together and the game being finished in less than two hours. Instead, teams typically pass 75 percent of the time now and sometimes — when they’re not as efficient at it as we or they would like — the result is a marathon peppered with incomplete passes, penalties and clock stoppages.

This has been a revolting development for the guys in the press box without a rooting interest in the teams on either sideline. We root for the clock and it seldom moves fast enough in today’s game.

Change is inevitable. Resistance is futile.

You’d think we would have come to terms with that by now, but you’d be wrong. We’re set in our ways as much as we can be in this business, but eventually we have to play ball even if our comfort level is occasionally thrown off.

We can resist all we like, but ultimately, the game is still the game even when it is played differently. We still grumble about things, but we deal with it.

We adapt and adjust, just like defensive coordinators who now must deal with offenses spreading the field in a never-ending quest to get receivers and running backs into favorable one-on-one matchups.

But changes in high school football aren’t just happening on the field.

The area is experiencing sweeping changes in terms of conference affiliations. Some of the leagues we used to know so well are gone, others are being dismantled right now and more are sure to follow.

New conferences and alliances are developing and it is anyone’s guess how long those leagues will endure.

The Inter-Tri County League is history. Jackson-Milton, Lowellville, McDonald, Mineral Ridge, Sebring, Springfield and Western Reserve landed — along with Waterloo — in the new Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference.

Columbiana, East Palestine, Leetonia, Lisbon, Southern, United and Wellsville got together — along with Toronto — to form the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference.

In May, All-American Conference members Girard, Hubbard, Jefferson, Lakeview, Niles, Poland and Struthers informed the AAC of their intent to withdraw and form the NorthEast8 Conference.

South Range — left high and dry by the breakup of the ITCL — will be the new conference’s eighth school.

The Northeastern Buckeye Conference also is on the way out after seven of its eight schools — Alliance, Canton South, Carrollton, Marlington, Minerva, Salem and West Branch — voted to bolt and form a new league without NBC power Louisville.

Got all that? Well, there is more.

Crestview, another school left homeless by the demise of the ITCL, has accepted an offer to join the AAC’s Blue Tier, which includes the conference’s smaller schools.

And Valley Christian, which was part of the parochial North Coast League — along with defending Division VII state champion Warren JFK — is now in the County Division of the Portage Trail Conference.

There were probably other deals struck in the time it took to write this column.

And we haven’t even gotten into the OHSAA’s vote to move all playoff games — for the first four weeks of the postseason — to Friday nights.

Just for the record, we were against that move. Not that it mattered. When Week 11 comes around and the Valley gets its typical amount of playoff teams and all of them play the same night, some tough choices will have to be made.

But that’s the nature of change.

Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.

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