Poland, Struthers among schools bolting AAC
By Charles Grove
There will be a new athletic conference for eight area high schools for the 2018-19 school year.
Girard, Hubbard, Jefferson, Lakeview, Niles, Poland and Struthers all submitted letters to withdraw from the All-American Conference on Tuesday. Those schools and South Range will be part of the NorthEast 8 Conference beginning in the fall of 2018.
After the Inter Tri-County League folded, South Range joined the Eastern Buckeye Conference initially, but notified the conference of their intent to withdraw immediately. The South Range Board of Education approved a measure to do just that Tuesday.
The eight superintendents involved released the following statement: “We appreciate what the AAC has offered, but we feel the new NE8 Conference is more in line with each district’s student enrollment. We truly feel this is what’s best for our student athletes.”
South Range confirmed it will remain independent in all sports for the 2017-2018 school year.
South Range also received a bid to play in a league containing Newton Falls, Campbell, Champion, Liberty, Crestview, Brookfield and LaBrae, but now appears to have found its home in the NorthEast 8.
The seven soon-to-be-former AAC schools will be significantly larger than South Range. According to enrollment figures on the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s website, South Range has 152 boys and 178 girls.
By comparison, Niles is the largest school leaving the AAC with 284 boys and 258 girls. Girard is the smallest school leaving the AAC with 199 boys and 216 girls.
The exodus knocks the AAC down from 21 schools to 14. The largest remaining schools now include Canfield, East, Boardman, Howland, Austintown Fitch and Warren Harding. The schools will play each other in all sports except for football.
Multiple calls to AAC commissioner Rick King were not returned.
A text message to Hubbard athletic director Chuck Montgomery was also not returned.