SBC announces plan for major expansion

SBC announces plan for major expansion

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SBC announces plan for major expansion

The Sandusky Bay Conference is going to look very different in a couple years.

The league announced Wednesday plans to expand, doubling in size and creating two divisions based on enrollment. The new alignment is scheduled to take effect for the fall of the 2016-17 school year.

“It provides stability with the increase in numbers,” Margaretta athletic director Ryan Bohn said. “It also really provides combative balance which has been a concern of the league in recent years.”

The current SBC teams, Clyde, Port Clinton, Oak Harbor, Margaretta, Edison, Huron and Perkins will be joined by St. Joseph Central Catholic, Lakota, St. Mary Central Catholic, St. Wendelin, New Riegel, Old Fort, Tiffin Calvert and Vermilion to form a 15-team conference split into two divisions, the Bay and River.

“It sounds like everybody wins,” Port Clinton football coach Beau Carmon said. “I think it’s good for the SBC and I think it’s good for Port Clinton, most importantly. I think it’s in the best interest of our kids.”

Stability was the unanimous word used by athletic directors and coaches throughout the league to describe the expansion. Both the SBC and the Sandusky River League have been seeking stability since St. Mary Central Catholic departed the SBC for the newly-formed SRL prior to this season.

The SBC found itself a seven-member league with one school, Margaretta, falling behind its peers in enrollment and competitiveness—particularly in football—and exploring alternatives.

The SRL, meanwhile, a six-team conference with just four football schools, had been looking to add members since its inception. Those six schools, SJCC, Lakota, SMCC, St. Wendelin with non-football schools New Riegel and Old Fort will be joined by Tiffin Calvert to form the SBC’s lower-enrollment division, the River Division.

Margaretta, which has gone just 4-23 in the SBC in football over the last four seasons, will play in the River Division in football and wrestling.

“We’re happy we’re going to be playing schools similar to our size,” Margaretta football coach Andy Zuk said. “Next year it looks like we’ll be (Division) 6, and after that will remain D6 for a while, so to be able to compete against schools our size and not have to go up two divisions is certainly a plus and were excited about it.”

The larger division, the Bay Division, will consist of the current SBC teams, Clyde, Port Clinton, Oak Harbor, Edison, Huron and Perkins, and be joined by the other new-comer to the league, Vermilion. Vermilion has been competing as an independent

Margaretta will also be a Bay Division school in all sports besides football and wrestling.

“When St. Mary’s chose to leave, that changed the dynamic of our entire conference,” Oak Harbor athletic director Drew Grahl said. “Certainly the league had to look in a mirror and ask ‘Is it good to be losing these small schools or is there something we can do to solidify and make our league more stable?’ That’s what the SBC decided to do. We’re very pleased by that.”

In its press release, the SBC stated most sports will have a champion crowned in each division. Cross-over games will be available for schools interested in doing so but no River Division team will be forced to play a team from the Bay Division.

“It’s going to keep a lot of rivalries which we already have,” SJCC athletic director Gary Geller said. “We play Clyde and Margaretta in a lot of sports, we’re going to keep those things, even though they’re not going to count toward the league title, it’ll help us keep our rivalries.”

In addition to preserving rivalries, the move into the SBC will make life easier for athletic directors in the SRL who have to schedule seven non-league football games. Not only is finding opponents with open availability a challenge, so too is finding them close to home. SJCC had road games at Bucyrus and Hardin-Northern last season while Lakota also traveled to Hardin-Northern and Montpelier.

“Seven non-league games is very difficult,” Lakota AD Mary Brewer said. “It’s not an easy task, especially when they say they want it within an hour distance. It’s difficult.”

And the SBC may not be done. The Bay Division will have seven schools for football and eight for other sports such as basketball, while the River Division will contain six football teams and seven non-football. Adding a 16th team could make the divisions equal.

“If all 15 of us can sit around a table and discuss potential additions, if it’s in the best interest of the majority, I think this group is committed to make the SBC the best league it can be,” Grahl said.

rmcgowan@gannett.com

419-334-1043

Twitter: @RMcGowan1

THE NEW SBC

Breaking down the Sandusky Bay Conference in light of the league’s expansion plans taking effect for the 2016-17 school year:

Current SBC

Clyde

Edison

Huron

Margaretta

Oak Harbor

Perkins

Port Clinton

Football and wrestling divisions in 2016-17

Bay Division

Clyde

Edison

Huron

Oak Harbor

Perkins

Port Clinton

Vermilion

River Division

Lakota

Margaretta

SJCC

SMCC

St. Wendelin

Tiffin Calvert

Non-football and wrestling division in 2016-17

Bay Division

Clyde

Edison

Huron

Margaretta

Oak Harbor

Perkins

Port Clinton

Vermilion

River Division

Lakota

New Riegel

Old Fort

SJCC

SMCC

St. Wendelin

Tiffin Calvert

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