NEW PHILADELPHIA -- It's "all systems go" with the new-look Inter-Valley Conference which will unveil its 14-team league when the 2017-18 school year begins.
IVC Commissioner Chuck Rest, who has been in that role since 1998, sat down with area media to unveil details regarding the first year of the revamped league.
"This has been three or three and a half years in the works," said Rest. "It started when one superintendent down south felt his school was spending too much in travel expenses to the schools up north and they discussed the possibility of forming a smaller league that would be more location-friendly. We got involved to come up with a solution and after a lot of time and effort, the expanded IVC has become a reality.
"This league has been in existence since 1969 and it's a pretty darn good league," the commissioner continued. "No one school dominates in all of the sports, and we've had quite a few teams reach the state tournaments over the years."
Five new member schools - Buckeye Trail, Claymont, Indian Valley, Tuscarawas Valley and Conotton Valley - have increased the league to 14 teams and resulted in a two-division alignment for most of the sports (boys/girls golf, cross country, wrestling and track will compete in an all-inclusive division while the others - football, volleyball, boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball will have two divisions).
Buckeye Trail is leaving the Pioneer Valley Conference after a 20-year stay; Claymont moves over from the East Central Ohio League; Indian Valley and Tusky Valley depart the Principals Athletic Conference; and Conotton Valley returns after a six-year sabbatical from the IVC.
Trail and Conotton Valley will maintain their memberships in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference.
In the sports with two divisions, they'll be called the North and South, although it's not a true North-South set-up with Sandy Valley preferring to play in the South with primarily smaller schools. There are six teams in football - Hiland does not have football and Conotton Valley opted not to participate in that sport - and seven in the other sports.
Buckeye Trail will be in the North Division for football, but the South Division for all other sports, with Tusky Valley the other team switching divisions.
Divisions for football: North - Buckeye Trail, East Canton, Malvern, Sandy Valley, Tuscarawas Central Catholic and Strasburg; South - Newcomerstown, Ridgewood, Indian Valley, Garaway, Claymont and Tuscarawas Valley.
Divisions for volleyball, boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball: North - East Canton, Malvern, Sandy Valley, Tuscarawas Valley, Conotton Valley, Tuscarawas Central Catholic and Strasburg; South - Buckeye Trail, Garaway, Claymont, Newcomerstown, Ridgewood, Indian Valley and Hiland.
Rest said the league schedules in all sports have been finalized and will be in effect for two years (2017-18 and 2018-19).
"It's pretty much set, but we won't rule out some minor tweaking if we feel it's necessary," said Rest. "We felt it was only fair to set teams up with a home-and-home situation, so if Buckeye Trail goes to Strasburg one year (for football), then Strasburg goes to Buckeye Trail the next."
Rest pointed out the crossover games, which will be reassigned every two years, will not count toward the division standings, but were done more for gate revenues, travel and to help schools fill out their schedules.He also said the league's two smallest schools would not play the two largest in crossovers.
The commissioner said that while getting everyone to agree on some aspects was a challenge, the new members were excited to be on board.
"They were chompin' at the bit (to join)," Rest said of the administration at Buckeye Trail. "They came in and said 'you tell us what we need to do, and we'll be happy to do it.'''
The IVC will also unveil three "Showcase" events - volleyball and girls/boys basketball. These will be day-long (Saturday) events that will have no bearing on league championships and there won't be any trophies, but it will be a way to have all of the teams in those sports come together at one event.
"For one $6 ticket, someone can come in and watch a full day of volleyball or basketball with some pretty good competition," said Rest.
No parking will be charged at the Showcases and that the hosts school will handle the concessions and receive the proceeds.
One concern for Buckeye Trail and Conotton Valley due to their dual membership in the OVAC was that the IVC Showcases are likely to fall on the same date as the OVAC Championships in those sports, but Rest said allowances would be made if either team reached an OVAC title game by having them play their Showcase game on that Friday at the home of the team they are scheduled to face.
He also said that while most crossover games would be randomly selected, Trail and Conotton would be scheduled against one-another which also helps with their OVAC-mandated number of conference games.
Trail's longest trip will be to East Canton (approximately 70 miles), with the estimated travel time there as well as to Hiland (Berlin, 63 miles) at one hour and 10 minutes.
Here's a sport-by-sport breakdown:
Boys/girls golf will be an all-inclusive league with pre-season and post-season tournaments (at rotating sites) as well as regular season results combining to determine the champion.
Cross Country will be all-inclusive with a season-ending league meet,slated for the coming year at Claymont.
Volleyball will have two divisions with teams playing each time in their division two times plus two crossover games with teams in the other divisions (these do not count in the standings) plus a regular-season ending IVC Showcase pitting teams from one division against the other (generally, but not exclusively, 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, etc.) The Showcase games - slated in year one at Indian Valley - have no bearing on the league champion as each division will have a champion.
Boys/Girls basketball will have two divisions with teams playing each time in their division two times plus two crossover games with teams in the other divisions (crossover games do not count in the standings) plus a regular-season ending IVC Showcase pitting teams from one division against the other (generally, but not exclusively, 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, etc.) The Showcase games - slated in year one at Hiland for the girls and Claymont for the boys - have no bearing on the league champion as each division will have a champion.
Wrestling will be all-inclusive with an end-of-season tournament, slated for the coming year at Sandy Valley
Bsaeball/softball will have two divisions with teams playing each time in their division two times and teams in the other division one time (crossover games do not count in the standings).
Track will be all-inclusive with a season-ending league meet, slated for the coming year at Newcomerstown.