By Brad Morris
ASHVILLE — With the Teays Valley Board of Education expected to accept an invitation to join the Ohio Capital Conference next week, the Vikings will be moving from the Buckeye to the Buckeye.
That is from the Mid-State League Buckeye Division to the OCC’s Buckeye Division for the 2024-25 school year.
When the OCC voted to extend invitations to Teays Valley and Logan yesterday, six of the eight schools who would be in the newly revamped and expanded Buckeye Division were known — Canal Winchester, Groveport, Lancaster, Newark, Teays Valley and Logan. The final two spots were between four schools — Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg, Westland and Central Crossing.
Dave Purpura of This Week News first reported on Tuesday morning that the final two members of the division will be Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg, making the division eight schools all in the southeast section of the Columbus metropolitan area.
Of the eight schools in the new OCC-Buckeye, all but Pickerington Central, attended a meeting in Logan approximately four years ago to discuss the possibility of forming a new league. Needless to say it’s an interesting twist that they will all be together in the OCC-Buckeye.
Canal Winchester, Logan and Teays Valley are all similarly-sized districts and compete in Division II for football and Division I in all other sports. The other five schools (Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg, Groveport, Newark and Lancaster) are Division I in all sports.
Teays Valley has a history of playing a majority of the schools in the future OCC-Buckeye in non-league play. The boys basketball team, for example, will play non-league games against Canal Winchester, Lancaster, Groveport and Logan this winter, while the girls basketball team will face Newark and Groveport.
A bone of contention for some MSL-Buckeye fans over the years has been that Teays Valley had double the enrollment or close to it over all league schools except for Hamilton Township.
In the OCC-Buckeye, Reynoldsburg will have over double the boys enrollment that Teays Valley currently has and Groveport will be close to double. Three other schools (Pickerington Central, Lancaster and Newark) will have sizable enrollment advantages.
With a number of housing developments under construction or in the planning stages across northern Pickaway County, Teays Valley is expected to grow into its new conference over the coming years.
“I told the Board of Education when we started this process that we’d win fewer league championships in the OCC, but that we would compete better for district championships, especially after we adjust to playing that level of competition on a more frequent basis,” Teays Valley Athletic Director Joel Baker said.
The Vikings plan on working to develop deeper rosters among its current student-athletes to compete, thanks to a number of significant athletic upgrades the district has made over the last five years, highlighted by the new 40,000 square-foot field house that had a ribbon cutting last week.
“We want to work on competing against those middle-level OCC schools as a starting point and that means we’ll need to build more depth across all of our programs by having our kids utilize the facilities that we’ve put in place,” Baker said. “Once you get to a point where you are competing and having success against those middle-level schools, then you start having more success at the district level.”
The final vote from the OCC to admit Teays Valley and Logan was 28-4. The four schools who voted against the move made it clear that they did not object to Teays Valley and Logan joining the OCC, but how the conference’s expansion and realignment committee aligned the divisions.
Mid-State League Buckeye Division
School Boys Girls
Amanda-Clearcreek 188 175
Bloom-Carroll 256 225
Circleville 240 236
Fairfield Union 227 233
Hamilton Township 344 328
Liberty Union 161 145
Logan Elm 246 252
Teays Valley 453 466
Ohio Capital Conference Buckeye Division
School Boys Girls
Canal Winchester 465 463
Groveport 778 674
Lancaster 724 625
Logan 450 445
Newark 729 682
Teays Valley 453 466
Pickerington Central 699 675
Reynoldsburg 915 774
— Information from grades 9-11 school enrollment, courtesy of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
— Craig Dunn of the http://loganhockingtimes.com contributed to this story.