It’s the off-season and the rumor mill is flying again. Now it’s being bantered about that the divisional alignment will be changed for next year. But then again, a wise man once said that there is nothing so certain as change. If this realignment comes to fruition, could there be an impact on Massillon?
The current playoff structure utilizes seven divisions, with four regions in each division. In Division 1 there are 18 teams per region. The remaining teams in the state are divided equally among Divisions 2 through 7, and have around 28 teams in each region. Division 1 has fewer teams because the OHSAA believes that the smaller enrollment teams lacked competitiveness in the playoffs.
Starting in 2000, the number of teams qualifying in each region was increased from four to eight. That worked well until the Covid Pandemic hit. Due uncertainties on whether many games could even be played depending on Covid exposure, difficulties were expected in determining realistic qualifiers. So the OHSAA resolved that every team would qualify. Several positives came out of this, the most significant of which was that many teams that rarely made the playoffs now had a chance to participate. And that was a good thing for the schools and the Association as a whole.
So in 2021 the Association decided to double the number of regional qualifiers from eight to 16. Unknowingly, they backed themselves into a corner. While 16 of 28 teams nicely qualified regionally in Divisions 2 through 7, Division 1 was different. In that arena, it was 16 of 18, and some schools that qualified had just one or two wins. Apparently, this has not sat too well with many lower division schools.
Now the OHSAA may be considering a move in the opposite direction by adding more teams to Division 1 to calm the herd. It’s not likely that they will return to the original 115 in each division, but a number like 88 in Division 1 (4 additional teams per region) may be more likely. Two per region would not appear to have much impact and eight per region would return it close to the original number. So, four seems to make the most sense. To meet this new limit, 16 Division 2 teams would need to move up.
The cutoff for Division 1 is currently 594 boys (after the base enrollment has been adjusted to account for competitive advantage). Adding 16 schools would lower the cutoff to 544 based on last year’s numbers, which is not a huge change in enrollment. So, if last year’s numbers were used, here are the Division 2 schools that would move up to Division 1, in order of adjusted enrollment:
- Cleveland Rhodes – 586
- Cleveland John Marshall
- Cincinnati Winton Woods
- Columbus St. Charles
- North Canton Hoover
- Austintown Fitch
- Painesville Riverside
- Westerville South
- Massillon – 552
- Cuyahoga Falls
- Massillon Perry
- Toledo St. Francis
- Anthony Wayne – 544
As you can see, Massilllon lies within this group and could conceivably move up, depending on their revised adjusted enrollment for this year. Note that competitive advantage numbers are re-calculated by the OHSAA annually to account for the number of real-time out-of-district players. Massillon’s 2021 competitive advantage adder of 63 was the second highest in the state for a public school, surpassed only by Winton Woods’ 64. If the Tigers’ adder came down by nine points or if the overall enrollment simply dropped, they could perhaps remain in Division 2, assuming the adjusted enrollments for the other schools remained about the same. Nine points is equal to three transfers that enter the program through open enrollment. Plus, the impact of both graduating seniors and incoming new players would certainly cause this number to fluctuate from year-to-year. So that would make Massillon a borderline school, potentially moving between divisions from one year to the next.
So hold onto your football. We could be headed back to Division 1 this year.