Nothing is set in stone just yet, but come February a few local football teams could be switching levels and leagues.
The OSAA Football Ad Hoc Committee forwarded its recommendations to the executive board for review this week, and the pending adoption is Feb. 10.
For Irrigon and Umatilla, that means a step down to the 2A level, while Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii will go from 1A to 2A, and McLoughlin/Griswold would join a hybrid 4A/3A Special District 6 league with Baker, Burns, La Grande, Nyssa, Vale and Ontario.
The Pioneers, who played an independent schedule this fall, would compete at the 3A level.
“That’s what we are anticipating,” Irrigon athletic director Mike Royer said of the proposed realignment. “It looks likes 2A for football, but we are hoping it is for other sports as well. The recommendation came from the OSAA for us and Umatilla.”
Part of the criteria used was a team’s winning percentage over the past two years. Those whose number was 22% or less were considered for movement.
For Umatilla, that number is 18.18%, and 12.5% for Irrigon.
If approved, Umatilla and Irrigon would join the 2A Special District 5 (Blue Mountain Conference) with Grant Union, Heppner, Riverside, Stanfield and Weston-McEwen.
“That 2A league is a really strong league,” Royer said. “We played Weston-McEwen, Stanfield and Heppner in nonleague, and it was a struggle. Overall, we are better suited for that league. We didn’t have enough guys for a JV team this year.”
Also potentially joining the 2A group are Adrian/Jordan Valley, which won the 1A state title in November, and Pilot Rock/Nixyaaawii.
“We aren’t getting too excited yet,” said Pilot Rock AD TJ Presley, who would like his team to stay at the 8-man level. “There are a couple of more meetings. It will be a big jump for us for to go to 11-man. Even where we are at, we didn’t have enough for a JV team. Our enrollment numbers are up, but not our participation numbers. When you co-opt, your enrollment goes up — not just the football guys, but everyone in their school.”
Pendleton will stay at 5A, but will have different teams in Special District 1 — Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Hood River Valley, Parkrose, Scappoose, St. Helens and The Dalles.
“That makes sense,” Pendleton coach Erik Davis said. “We play everybody once and pick up a couple of nonleague games, and eliminate the crossover game. They (OSAA) will do what’s best for everyone.”