Certain things in life we struggle to understand. To some of us, we struggle with understanding why East State Street is only 25 miles per hour. A lot of us local sports fans are struggling to understand why the OHSAA re-drew their regions the way they did.
The new map differs greatly from the division six map from last season. Last season saw the region go from Lawrence County in the south to Marion County in the north. Drive times could reach around two hours, but it was nothing unreasonable for any school. This, things have changed. The regions were redrawn and Trimble, Nelsonville-York and Federal Hocking will now be playing in region 21. The region spans all the way from Washington County to Ashtabula County along Lake Erie. Drive times to first-round playoff games for schools could reach over three hours. Naturally, many were not pleased with how the OHSAA redrew these district. To answer our questions, we had Beau Rugg, Senior Director of Officiating and Sport Management for the OHSAA to answer some questions all of us had about the new regional assignments.
We were looking for clarity and in some ways, we had a better understanding of how regions were drawn.
“You try to make the most condensed regions you can. What happens is, the perfect example is, in this region (Southeastern Ohio) you have…11 schools and they are outliers and you have to go somewhere with them, where do I take them.” Rugg said.
So it is clear that SEO was as an area that had to be fitted into another region in the eyes of the OHSAA. Rather than in past years in which we saw other areas fit into SEO as to preserve existing rivalries. Now the current region sends Coal Grove and various Chillicothe schools (Southeastern, Paint Valley, etc) into the Cincinnati area.
It is understandable. SEO is a small region, it can be hard to make it fit. Yet at the same time, in the Columbus area, there are only about 8-10 division six schools in the Columbus area. So there are multiple areas that do not make the perfect, easy to draw regional lines. Yet at the end of the day, someone is going to end up in an unfavorable area. What happened to our area is best summed up by Rugg himself.
“You will see one region like this region in each division where you have these outliers and they are spread out,” he said.
Is there a better reason to draw this division. A lot of people think so. Our own Troy Bolin drew his own version of the regions that also work out well. Yet the OHSAA has made their decision, and while it has drawn the ire of SEO, a final decision has been made.
The truth of the matter is, that when we go over the maps of each division, one area drew the short end of the stick. In division six that area is SEO. It is fun to imagine that a conspiracy is out to draw regions to try and create better playoff matchups, but as Rugg explained, it is truly impossible to predict the dominant high school programs in advance most of the time.
A better map may exist, there could have been a more favorable way to draw the region out. Yet at the end of the day, both Trimble and Nelsonville-York have played 15 and 14 game seasons recently. They both view themselves to be two of the best teams in the state. The best teams in the state first have to win their region. When we look back in November and if the like of Belpre, Nelsonville-York, Fort Frye or Federal Hocking is holding up the Region 21 trophy, all will be forgotten.