Two-A-Days: High School Fall Storylines – Conferences
It's that time of year again, where the student-athletes take the field, court, the woods and the course for the fall season in the Michigan High School Athletic Association. The certain dates that all athletic directors circle on the annual MHSAA schedule they receive in July, where the coaches and students are back on the school grounds preparing for the upcoming season.
For me, this is the grind time to prepare everything for our upcoming schedule on WBCK and associating it with the college football, Tigers and Lions schedules for the next three months. It's more special this year as I take on the High School Play-by-Play reigns, something I'm looking forward to that I've really worked hard to get to.
As I write this first High School blog, there are a few stories that intrigue me heading into the upcoming season, some that will be more drastic than others. As the upcoming week and season go along, I hope to provide more detailed and special stories for our community that will keep you in touch with the area's student-athletes. Here are some of my story lines...
The New Conferences
One of the biggest changes in 2014-2015 is a new conference (or two), while two of the more famed conferences will go by the wayside (one already has) by the end of the year. The newest conference for in our area is the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, which is a combination of Harper Creek, Marshall and Coldwater from the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference (Big 16), Pennfield from the Kalamazoo Vallaey Association, and Charlotte, Jackson Northwest, Jackson Lumen Christ and Parma Western, who all defected the Capital Area Activities Conference. It cuts down travel for Harper, Marshall and Coldwater, who don't have to travel to the Lakeshore, and Pennfield heading to the Indiana State Line. For the other four, it gets them out of an ultra competitive conference where they were out-matched (Charlotte, Northwest and Western) or dominate (Lumen Christi).
Pennfield was not the only school that left the KVA. Olivet and Vermontville Maple Valley are joining another new conference, the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference. The two teams have played most of their district and regional action in recent years in the Lansing area, and trips to Constantine are now gone. They now join Lake Odessa-Lakewood and Stockbridge from the Capital Area Activities Conference, Perry from the Genessa Area Conference and Leslie, who's played as an independent the last two seasons.
The Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference is now the Big 12, where they also lost Sturgis to the Wolverine Conference (more on that in a second). Battle Creek Central, Lakeview, Gull Lake and Kalamazoo Loy Norrix remain in the East Division, but Kalamazoo Central and Mattawan shift divisions from the West.
The Wolverine Conference now has Sturgis because enrollment at Comstock became too low and outside of the conference's by-laws. The same happened to Gull Lake three years ago for too high of enrollment, forcing their move to the then-Big 16. Comstock is now in the KVA with Constantine, Schoolcraft, Kalamazoo Hackett and Kalamazoo Christian (for football, they're one team), Delton and Galesburg-Augusta (in all sports except football). G-A is playing as an independent this year.
Speaking of the Kalamazoo Valley Association, they will be in their final season of existence, as Hackett, Christian, Schoolcraft, G-A and Delton will become members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC) next year, leaving Parchment and Comstock without a conference.
I almost forgot the other legendary conference! The St. Joseph Valley Conference, where St. Philip and Climax-Scotts spent a few years, is gone now. Mendon, White Pigeon, Bronson and Centreville are now members of the new Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference - the BCS for short. The St. Joe Valley merged with the remaining schools in the Lakeland Conference and added St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic and New Buffalo from the Red Arrow. For football, the divisions are split by enrollment, with Bronson and Mendon joining Buchanan, Niles Brandywine and Cassopolis. Division II features White Pigeon and Centreville with Bridgman, Lake Michigan Catholic and New Buffalo. Also just announced today (8/14), Comstock and Parchment will be joining the BCS in 2015-2016.
This is just one of the first stories that I'll be keeping an eye on this year. Stay tuned for more Two-A-Days in the near future. Don't forget that our first High School Football broadcast of the season is Thursday, August 28th at CW Post Field, as the St. Philip Tigers host the Kingston Cardinals in 8-Man action!