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Sunday, June 30, 2013

By The Numbers: Does Orrville belong in the Ohio Cardinal Conference?

With the release last week of the new OHSAA enrollment numbers, the discussion has come up again as to whether we belong in the Ohio Cardinal Conference...and by numbers alone, we simply don't. But is there more to it than that? I'm not so sure, but in the following post, I'll lay out the numbers and try to let that make my point for me.

If you don't want to read the stats, I'll save you the time, I think it's time for us to get out of the OCC....and I have one solution that I think would work.  But you'll have to read the whole post to get to that part.

Come know you want to.

First off...the numbers.  Here is the enrollment of all the OCC schools, first by boys, then girls.

Boys Enrollment
1. Wooster - 426
2. Mansfield Sr. - 423
3. Ashland - 410
4. Madison - 384
5. West Holmes - 334
6. Lexington - 299
7. Clear Fork - 237
8. Orrville - 185

Girls Enrollment
1. Wooster - 455
2. Ashland - 400
3. Mansfield Sr. - 351
4. Madison - 334
5. Lexington - 283
6. West Holmes - 275
7. Clear Fork - 225
8. Orrville - 174 both boys and girls sports, Orrville is the smallest school in the OCC, and it's not really that close.  Our enrollment could increase by 20% in both boys and girls sports, and we'd still be the smallest school in the conference.

In numbers alone, we simply don't belong.

OCC Titles
In the 16 common sports among all OCC teams, here's the distribution of OCC titles since 2003.

1. Lexington - 64
2. Ashland - 36
3. Wooster - 24
4. West Holmes - 12
5. Madison - 11
6. Orrville - 10
7. Mansfield Senior - 9
8. Clear Fork - 8

The clear separator in this list is Lexington's dominance in both boys and girls tennis where they have won 19 of 20 possible OCC titles.  If those are removed, Lexington's 45 OCC titles are still best among the eight schools, but the gap isn't as wide.

Oddly enough, the only OCC sport in which every team has at least 1 conference title is football.

So Lexington, is averaging over 6 OCC titles per school year while Orrville is averaging 1 per school year.

Obviously our total isn't anywhere close to the top, but 70% of all OCC titles are being won by Wooster, Lexington or Ashland, so Orrville has company near the bottom of this list.

Another big knock against the OCC is the travel time.  The average travel time from Orrville to any OCC school is 51 minutes....with the shortest drive being 24 minutes to Wooster and the longest drive being over an hour to both Lexington and Clear Fork.

Comparing this to the old All-Ohio League (Orrville, Northwest, Manchester, Fairless, Coventry, Triway, West Holmes) from the 1980's....the average travel time was just 32 minutes with the shortest trip being 24 minutes to Triway and the longest being 46 minutes to West Holmes.  Putting this a different way, the LONGEST trip in the AOL was shorter than the AVERAGE trip in the current OCC.

Numbers don't need to prove this fact, just look at our stands on a Friday night in Lexington or Clear Fork.

Proposed Solution
It's real my opinion we should run form the OCC. Our best teams haven't won OCC titles.  Just look at this past year.  Final Four qualifiers in volleyball & girls basketball, but neither team won the OCC.  We've had final four football teams and state finalists in basketball that didn't win the OCC also.

I know this isn't the popular opinion and flys in the face of our "Rider Pride" that we've developed over the past few decades, but let's face facts.....most years we're not going to be competitive when we have half the enrollment of the rest of the conference. We've won OCC titles in just 5 sports, that's better than only Clear Fork (4) and Senior (2).

It's a smart move competitively and financially....and that's just a fact. It may not happen right away, but if we have a dip in talent or an even bigger dip in enrollment, we're going to struggle even more to be competitive, and that could hurt numbers coming out for all sports.  Kids don't want to be on the losing end of things over and over.

Sure the OCC prepares us for tournament play, and we've seen that play out in football, basketball and most recently in baseball, but it boils down to a numbers game and in the smaller sports, we just don't have the depth to realistically compete.  Sports like golf, wrestling, cross country, soccer & tennis just can't match the depth of schools like Ashland, Wooster and Lexington.

So OK...we need to get out of the OCC...easier said than done....and if we do, where do we go?  I know a conference that I think we'd be a good fit both enrollment-wise and geographically.  Where you ask??  I don't know if you're ready to hear this....but here goes.


Let's face it...the Wayne Co. Athletic League is where we belong, and put aside all the other stuff for a minute and let's look at the numbers first.  If we were to join the WCAL, here's how the enrollment numbers would look.

Boys Enrollment
1. Orrville - 185
1. Waynedale - 185
3. Northwestern - 183
4. Chippewa - 179
5. Norwayne - 166
6. Smithville - 154
7. Hillsdale - 134
8. Dalton - 127
9. Rittman - 118

Girls Enrollment
1. Chippewa - 179
2. Orrville - 174
3. Northwestern - 166
4. Smithville - 150
5. Norwayne - 142
6. Waynedale - 129
7. Dalton - 115
8. Rittman - 110
9. Hillsdale - 109

Much more balanced, no? Yes, we're the biggest boys school, and 2nd biggest girls school, but the top 6 schools in the conference are separated by just 31 boys and 50 girls.  That's a much smaller gap than exists currently in the OCC.

Travel Time
To me, the big advantage to the WCAL is travel time.  The average trip to any WCAL school is only 22 minutes with the longest trip to Hillsdale (35 minutes) and the short trip to Smithville (12 minutes).  That's more than half of the 51 minute average drive in the OCC currently.  From a geography standpoint, it's clear cut that the WCAL is a better fit.  That's some serious cost savings too in terms of bus fuel.  Remember, in the OCC, we have buses going to Richland County for middle school teams, for freshman teams and for JV/Varsity.  I can't even imagine the cost per year....but if we were in the WCAL instead, those costs really get slashed.

Another biggie to me is that, in my opinion, joining the WCAL would really increase attendance at away games...something that is very obviously lacking in the OCC.  Every road game in the WCAL would be the home team's super bowl.  They'd circle their calendar for a shot at Orrville on their home field.  And ticket sales would be huge for both schools.  It would be a great atmosphere each and every Friday night.

9 teams or 10?
If just Orrville is added that would be 9 teams in the WCAL...and that's an odd number which can make scheduling tough.  You need a 10th team to balance things out and make scheduling easier....and my only suggestion is to add another Wayne Co. team, the Triway Titans.

That would make 10 teams and unless you wanted to schedule all 9 league games and just 1 non-conference game (for us it would be the Wooster game) it would make more sense to divide the county league into 2 divisions, a small school and a large school division.  Here's what it would look like if you put the 5 biggest schools (boys & girls counts combined) into one division and the 5 smallest into another:

Big Division
Triway - 417
Chippewa - 364
Orrville - 359
Northwestern - 349
Waynedale - 314

Small Division
Norwayne - 308
Smithville - 304
Hillsdale - 243
Dalton - 242
Rittman - 228

I really like how that looks.  Using football as an example, you couldn't play all 9 WCAL teams in a season, so I'd propose playing 7 league games and 4 of those 7 being the other 4 teams in your division every single year, and then a rotating 3 teams from the other division.  I think some care would need to be taken so that the biggest school is not playing the smallest school year in and year out, at least in football.

Here's what a possible schedule would look like for Orrville (conference games in red).

Week 1 - Northwest (non-conf.)
Week 2 - West Holmes (non-conf.)
Week 3 - Smithville (rotating small school opponent)
Week 4 - Chippewa
Week 5 - Northwestern
Week 6 - Norwayne (rotating small school opponent)
Week 7 - Hillsdale (rotating small school opponent)
Week 8 - Waynedale
Week 9 - Triway
Week 10 - Wooster (non-conf.)

The games against teams in the small school division would rotate every 2 we'd play Smithville, Norwayne and Hillsdale for 2 years, then Dalton and Rittman would rotate in for 2 years.

The potential matchups in this new league would be awesome....Orrville vs. Triway (still), Norwayne vs. Triway, Orrville vs. Smithville, Norwayne vs. Orrville would be new rivalries to go along with existing WCAL would really bring the area out to see these games.

Starting league play in week 3 also allows Orrville to maintain their long-standing week 10 rivalry with Wooster...we would just need 1 other league team to start their conference play in week 3 also to make this work.

Would it work?
I know joining the WCAL would be seen by some as blasphemy, but is it all so crazy to not even consider that we fit best there?  Our enrollment numbers are in line with WCAL schools and I believe across the board, we would compete better in all sports in the WCAL.  This is the new reality.

I don't think we'd dominate either...we'd have to check our ego at the door and realize that we will lose to county schools.  The Norwayne playoff game a few years ago should have taken care of most of that invincibility complex.  We'd be challenged and be seen by the rest of the league as the "big bad wolf," no matter our record.  We'd have a target on our backs for 7 straight weeks and I think that would motivate our kids just like playing up in the OCC does now.

A vote by the other schools would be interesting, especially since 2 current WCAL schools have the same superintendent as Orrville.  Rittman and Waynedale would probably have to abstain from voting due to a conflict of interest, so that would leave the other 6 (Rittman, Smithville, Hillsdale, Dalton, Northwestern & Norwayne) to vote us in or out.  Who knows how that would turn out given the politics at play, but it should would be neat to see that process play out.

What does Rider Nation think?
So given the above information, what do you think about us getting out of the OCC?  Obviously with our effort to join the NBC along with Northwest back in January, we're looking for the right situation.  My question to the "right situation" right here in Wayne County?

Vote in the poll below or leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Should Orrville seek to leave the OCC & join the WCAL? free polls 


Anonymous said...

Well, I for one know of one superintendent that would vote against Orrville joining the WCAL and he has two votes. You do the math. Orrville will never be allowed to join the WCAL. Look elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I know that Orrville will NOT be allowed in the WCAL. There is one superintendent that has two votes and he and I have had this conversation. He stated that although he thought it might be a fit size wise, he will vote against it because Orrville will be too dominate in the major sports, ie. football and basketball for boys and volleyball and basketball for girls. I say leave the OCC but look for another conference to join. The WCAL is out.

Unknown said...

I think this would be a great fit. the cost cut on fuel alone both for the school and most of all the fans would make this a wise choice. I dont think we would dominate everybody. Look at Norwayne and how they handed us our butts in the playoffs. I agree this would be a great fit. For sure ticket sales would go up for each visiting team. Just think FULL Stands on both sides Home and Visiting wouldn't that be Great.. This needs to be posted in the Daily Record and see what the WCAL fans have to say.... I SAY GET R DONE....redrider13424

Anonymous said...

I believe a good fit for us would be the suburban league out of summit county. they might have more people and be a little out of the way we could win against most of them.

Anonymous said...

WCAL schools don't want Orrville. The reality a few feel they can handle Orrville now - Norwayne. But in reality Orrville would become a dominatant player over time. Consider the PAC. Would bring Manchester back, a great football program that would consistantly challenge Orrville. But also has schools like Tusky Valley and Triway - which have their moments. Also brings in some new schools like CVCA and Indian Valley - again solid programs. School size woudl match well, travel to some schools would be longer - Indian Valley and CVCA would be 1+ hr bus rides.

Anonymous said...

To keep our athletics and athletes noticed state and nation wide, we need to look for a competitive league from the Akron-Canton areas.

I have noticed in recent years we no longer play Division 1 and 2 schools. We used to play one game at home against school such as Erie (Pa) Prep, Dayton Dunbar and etc. Those games meant alot to the players and school bragging rights.

We seem to be stuck on selecting head coaches from our program. Any chance to change this approach?

Red Rider Sports Blog (Tim Snyder) said...

Are you serious about is not playing D1 & D2 teams? Last year we played 6 of our 10 games against D2 schools. That's not enough?

When's the last time we even played a school smaller than us enrollment wise? Look that one up.

And if you want to talk about "teams we used to play," start with Dover & Wadsworth. But as a D5 school now, I doubt we'll ever match up with either anymore.

I'm ignoring the usuall comment (anonymously of course) about the coach. I'll just remind you of 1 thing...neither Mo Tipton (Akron Ellet) or Bill McMillan (Wooster) were Orrville alums. So the current coach is the first OHS alum we've had in 50+ years....and somehow that's too much for you to handle? You really let your agenda show when you make dumb comments like that.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why Orrville has so few members on the football team this year.

Two questions: 1. Over the last 10 years what has been the average team size? 2. Any reasons you know of for this small of a squad?

Thank you.

Red Rider Sports Blog (Tim Snyder) said...

Answer 1: Average team size over the past decade has probably been in the low 40's. That's 10th - 12th grade. This year we're at 45 but that's including freshmen. If you only counted 10-12th grades, we're probably at 35 or so.

Answer 2: My only answer as to the numbers is because that's how many kids went out for football. Can't help but think there's more to your question but you won't ask.

Anonymous said...

Well, as a 1971 grad of Wooster High, I'm really biased. However, it doesn't make sense for Orrville to stay in the OCC. In fact, the state high school athletic association should not allow it. The population variances are too great, assuming your numbers are correct.

But I love the fact that our 100+ year rivalry goes on. I still remember the score from our senior year. Wooster-7, Orrville-6. Last night was a dream game come true for me as a Wooster alum. Wooster - 56, Orrville - 6. I'm not sorry for gloating; I remember some serious drubbings that Orrville has laid on hapless Wooster teams, so the payback is priceless. And I can't let the moment go without thanking Orrville for giving us Dyson. The irony is sweet!

Anonymous said...

BTW, I did some demographic research on the web tonight and Orrville is losing population according to a comparison of the 2000 and 2010 census data. It's not that much (-2% to 3%) but the drops were in cohorts that are meaningful: about 15% drop in youth (ages 5 to 17, and about 20% drop in African American population. Historically, some of Orrville's best football players have been African American, so that may be another cause for concern for Orrville's football as 20% is statistically significant.