Same division, but — yet again — the Gallia Academy Blue Devils and Meigs Marauders are moving regions.
That’s because, per the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s announcement on Tuesday, the 2017 state football playoff format and regions have been set.
In addition, the announcement of regions comes on the heels of early April’s announcement of the new divisional alignments for football — along with all other fall sports in Ohio.
For the Ohio Valley Publishing area’s six Ohio schools, all half-dozen will remain within the same divisions as a year ago.
But, the Blue Devils and Marauders are changing their Division IV regions for the third time in as many years.
After switching from Region 14 to 16 for the 2016 campaign, both the Blue Devils and Marauders are now in Region 15 —which emphasizes the Southeast, Central and East regions of the state.
Region 14 two years ago and Region 16 last season essentially encompassed the entire southeast and southwest quadrants.
For Meigs, the program nearly dropped down to Division V, as its adjusted football enrollment for the next two years is at 210 boys.
Per April’s announcement of the OHSAA’s new two-year enrollment and divisional alignment cycle, the range for Division IV in football is from 210 to 275, whereas Division V ranges from 163 to 209.
Gallia Academy’s adjusted enrollment is 239, as the new enrollment numbers are combined with competitive balance roster data — which schools must now submit on a sport-by-sport basis in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball.
Division assignments are based on school enrollment numbers provided by the Ohio Department of Education, and then modified in football, volleyball and soccer based on Competitive Balance factors that OHSAA member schools approved by referendum vote in 2014.
Of the 718 schools that play football in Ohio, 75 schools moved up to a higher division due to competitive balance and/or a higher base enrollment number.
In Division V, River Valley remains in Region 19, which concentrates on southeastern, eastern and even central Ohio.
River Valley and Meigs are members of the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division, as River Valley resides in the same region as Alexander and Wellston — with Athens (Division III) and Vinton County (Division IV) being bigger schools and Nelsonville-York dropping down to Division VI.
Oak Hill, along with Wheelersburg, Minford, Portsmouth West and Northwest from the Southern Ohio Conference, are also still in Region 19.
Gallia Academy is the largest Ohio Valley Conference club —with Fairland, Chesapeake, Rock Hill, South Point, Portsmouth and Ironton all Region 19 now as well.
The only OVC school smaller than Division V is Coal Grove, which is in Division VI, which spans from 114 boys to 162.
Gallia Academy, Meigs and River Valley — with an adjusted enrollment of 201 — will all face each other in the opening half of the season.
Also encountering each other are Eastern, Southern and South Gallia — all in Region 27 of Division VII.
Eastern’s adjusted football enrollment is 101, with Southern’s at 91 and South Gallia’s at 96.
That region also covers the southeast, east and central districts — and now even includes Manchester in Adams County.
Southern, Eastern and South Gallia — in fact — join three other TVC-Hocking schools in the Buckeye State in Region 27.
They include Miller, Waterford and Trimble, as Federal Hocking and Belpre both bumped to Division VI.
Eastern opens the season by hosting River Valley, as the Eagles also play Region 27 squad Green.
Southern’s (Portsmouth Notre Dame and Frontier) and South Gallia’s (Sciotoville East and Manchester) non-league opponents are also in Region 27.
The 2017‐18 academic year is the opening year of the OHSAA’s new two-year enrollment and divisional alignment cycle.
A total of 718 schools will begin the season in August aiming for one of 224 playoff berths announced on Sunday, Oct. 29.
In addition to the announcements of divisional alignments and regions, the official opening day for football practice in the state has been pushed back by a day to Monday, July 31.
The original start date has usually been Aug. 1, which matched the start date for all other OHSAA fall sports.
Also on Tuesday, the OHSAA announced that all playoff games for the first four rounds will be played on Friday nights in November.
The state championship tilts, however — which return to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton this season — will be played from Thursday, Nov. 30 thru Saturday, Dec. 2.
“For a few years now, we have studied the possibility of moving all playoff games to Friday nights for the first four rounds,” OHSAA Assistant Commissioner Beau Rugg said. “Due to so many more college football games being played on Saturday nights, attendance at our Saturday playoff games has steadily declined, and more potential playoff sites have said they cannot host games on Saturdays. We now have enough playoff sites to handle all the games on one night, and the football coaches association was in support of this change, too, because teams will get to stay on their normal weekly schedule of playing on Friday night.”
Information provided by the Ohio High School Athletic Association was used in this story.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106