By Grant Lucas

The Bulletin

In its latest proposal released Thursday, an OSAA ad hoc committee has moved forward with a possible six-classification plan for Oregon high school football beginning with the 2018-19 school year, crafting two possibilities for Class 6A conferences that include the three Bend schools.

The committee is charged with investigating long-term viability of the current league and special district alignments in all six of the state’s classifications with the hopes of designing a landscape that would make football more competitive statewide. In October, the OSAA executive board approved the final recommendation of the classification and districting committee for a new six-classification system beginning next school year. Since then, Salem-Keizer School District has appealed the OSAA’s decision on reclassification, and the OSAA decided to further review reclassification for football only. The committee’s latest release follows a final proposal by the OSAA classification and districting committee, which was adopted by the OSAA executive board in October

In the updated proposal, under Option A in 6A, Bend High, Mountain View and Summit are placed in a 12-team Special District 4 with an assortment of Salem, Eugene and Southern Oregon schools. In Option B, the three Bend high schools are in a seven-team Special District 6 with four Salem-area schools.

At its Tuesday meeting in Wilsonville, the committee reached a consensus — according to an OSAA release that included its latest proposal — in using criteria to allow football teams from certain schools to drop one classification, including teams’ winning percentages in recent years.

Based on its winning percentage over the past two years, for example, Crook County, which is slated to join 5A in all other sports in the next school year, has the option to compete in 4A in football. Class 2A Culver is also eligible to play down but has elected to remain at its current classification. Madras, a 4A school, is eligible to compete in 3A, while Ridgeview, eligible to drop to 4A, is electing to remain in 5A. Schools eligible to play down were contacted before the committee’s most recent meeting to gauge their interest in dropping a classification.

The committee released only one option for 5A and 4A, in which Ridgeview and Redmond are placed in 5A Special District 4 along with Hood River Valley, Pendleton and The Dalles. Sisters is grouped with 4A Special District 3, which includes several Salem-area schools as well as Newport on the Oregon Coast, and Crook County is in 4A Special District 2, which includes teams from its current Tri-Valley Conference.

Madras could join either 3A Special District 1 (Option A) or Special District 2 (Option B), while 3A La Pine is grouped with Special District 2 (Option A) or Special District 3 (Option B). In the only option proposed in 2A, Culver is in Special District 6 with schools in northeast Oregon. As part of a proposed pilot program for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Class 1A, which includes one proposed option, has Gilchrist in 1A Special District 2 where it will play six-man football. Gilchrist currently competes in eight-man football.

The committee also discussed playoff qualification and how many teams will be included in the postseason. For more information on the committee’s latest updates, visit www.osaa.org/governance/committees.

The committee’s final meeting is scheduled for Jan. 31, and recommendations will be forwarded to the OSAA executive board for review and potential adoption.

— Reporter: 541-383-0307, glucas@bendbulletin.com

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