Sports fan love the underdog; their victories are part of what make the athletic landscape interesting.
However, it is tough playing that role week in and week out, which is what Clear Fork teams have been doing since joining the Ohio Cardinal Conference.
Of the eight teams that make up the OCC, excluding Orrville who has announced it is leaving the conference, Clear Fork has the lowest enrolment of eligible athletes by 146 students.
According to statistics from Ohio High School Athletic Association, the Colts have 381 potential student athletes in grades 9, 10 and 11. The next closest school in the OCC is West Holmes with 527 potential athletes.
At the top of the conference, the newly added Mount Vernon boasts an 823 student athlete pool.
Among the schools in the OCC, five have enrolment figures of more than 600 students, which nearly doubles the number of Clear Fork athletes.
The OHSAA’s bi-annual statistics are among the reasons athletic department officials and school administrators are considering a move out of the conference. The athletic department is looking to make a jump to a league that is more suitable in both student enrollment and demographics.
“Our young people are competing against schools much larger than us,” Clear Fork Athletic Director Joe Tresey said. “The more students you have the more potential you have for athletes to emerge. There are not many schools in Ohio playing up in a league like we are. It’s a testament to our athletes and coaches that they are able to compete at the level they do.”
“We currently have a standing invitation to join MOAC,” Clear Fork High School Principal Brian Brown said at the Nov. 12 school board meeting.
The move would pit the Colts against the likes of Buckeye Valley, Galion, Jonathan Alder, Marion Harding, Marion Pleasant, North Union and River Valley.
Among the schools that comprise Red Division of the MOAC, Clear Fork would have the fifth largest enrollment.
“We have been waiting for 12 years for opportunity to join a different conference,” Brown said. “I think it would be very advantageous for us.”
While Clear Fork would more closely match the enrolment figures of schools in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, joining the league would require additional travel.
In the OCC, the Colts average 29 travel miles for away games. Wooster currently stands as Clear Fork’s most distant opponent residing 44 miles away from the valley.
In joining the MOAC, the Colts would increase their average travel mileage by nearly 18 miles per contest. Clear Fork’s farthest conference foe would be Jonathan Alder at 71 miles away.
Both Brown and Tresey compared the potential travel in the MOAC to the school’s previous situation as part of the Mohican Area Conference. While part of the MAC, Clear Fork averaged 43.8 travel miles per away game.
The athletic department asked the Clear Fork Board of Education to weigh their information and consider joining the conference sometime in the near future.
Clear Fork High School Principal Brian Brown presents athletic information to the Clear Fork Board of Education at the board’s Nov. 13 meeting.
Reach Jones on Twitter @Bellville_Jones or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org