By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
The most stable Miami County athletic conference this century appears to be nearing its end — at least as we’ve known it for the past two decades.
Since 2000, the one constant among area schools has been change. Of the 11 Miami County schools — including Lehman, which isn’t geographically located in Miami County, but features many county residents in its athletic programs — all but four have made at least one conference move since the turn of the century. Those four schools are Covington, Bethel, Newton and Bradford — all of which have competed in the CCC the past 20 years.
Three of those schools — Bradfrod, Newton and Bethel — were charter members of the CCC in 1978, with Bradford and Newton coming from the Darke County League and Bethel leaving the Three Rivers Conference. Covington would leave the Southwestern Rivers Conference in 1991 to join the CCC, while Miami East would join in 2006 after a five-year stint in the Central Buckeye Conference.
It would appear the one conference mainstay involving Miami County teams will be either coming to an end completely in the coming weeks, or at least have a drastically different look than it does now.
On Jan. 18, a 10 of the 14 CCC teams — including Newton and Bradford — made it known they were planning on exiting the CCC, leaving behind four teams: Miami East, Covington, Bethel and Fort Loramie (which is a member of the CCC in football and girls golf only). A formal letter requesting a withdrawal is expected at a CCC board of control meeting Feb. 6.
What will become of the Cross County Conference name remains to be seen. The group of 10 schools leaving expressed in a memo their desire to maintain the CCC name, while officials from several of the four remaining schools have verbally expressed a desire to keep the conference name.
Either two of the four county schools that have been members since 2000 will remain in the CCC — Covington and Bethel or Newton and Bradford — while the other two will compete under a new banner. Or, quite possibly, both conferences will select new names, bringing an end to the CCC.
Whatever the final outcome is, don’t get too comfortable. In the past 20 years alone, we’ve seen that changing enrollment numbers and shifts in competitive balance — along with a number of other factors — would indicate that when it comes to high school athletic conferences, change in the only real constant.
Here’s a look at the changes each of the 10 Miami County schools, plus Lehman, since 2000:
Troy played its final season in the Greater Miami Valley Conference in the 2000-01 school year. In the fall of 2001, Troy joined the Greater Western Ohio Conference, which was essentially a merger of the GMVC and Western Ohio League. This coming fall, Troy — along with nine other current GWOC schools — will begin play in the revived Miami Valley League.
Piqua has walked the same conference path as its rival, Troy. In this century, the Indians have gone from the GMVC to the GWOC and will be going to the MVL at the beginning of the next school year. Both Troy and Piqua were charter members of the first iteration of the MVL in the 1940s, but Troy would leave that league in the 1960s to join the Western Ohio League, where it would play until the formation of the GMVC.
Tippecanoe played its final season in the Southwestern Rivers Conference in the 2000-01 school year. The SRC essentially folded following that year. Tippecanoe became a member of the Central Buckeye Conference in 2001, where it would remain until it joined the GWOC in 2016. The Red Devils will join Troy and Piqua in the MVL this fall.
Like Tippecanoe, Miami East left the SRC for the CBC in 2001. The Vikings would leave to join the CCC in 2006. Miami East will now await its future following the expected CCC split in the coming weeks.
Troy Christian High School opened its doors for the first time in 1996. The Eagles would begin fielding athletic teams largely at the junior varsity and club levels for the first few years of its existence. Troy Christian would join the Metro Buckeye Conference in every sport but football in 1999 and has remained a member of the MBC in every sports but football since then.
The football program, however, has taken a much different journey. Troy Christian fielded its first football team in 1999, playing a five-game schedule. In 2001, the Eagles — now playing a full schedule — joined the Northwest Central Conference in football only, where they would remain through 2004. From 2009-2011, Troy Christian played in the MBC’s short-lived football conference.
In 2012, Troy Christian did not field a football team due to a lack of players. Since the program’s return in 2013, Troy Christian has competed as an independent in football only.
Milton-Union joined the Southwest Buckeye League in 2001 when the SRC closed down. The Bulldogs have remained in the SWBL ever since. This is Milton’s second time in the SWBL. The Bulldogs’ first stint in the SWBL was from 1950 until 1982, when the they joined the now-defunct SRC. Prior to that, Milton had been in the Stillwater Valley League.
Covington has competed in the CCC since 1991. Like four other county schools, its exact future remains uncertain following the expected CCC split.
Bethel has competed in the CCC since 1978. Like four other county schools, its exact future remains uncertain following the expected CCC split.
Newton has competed in the CCC since 1978. The Indians will compete with nine other schools in a conference whose name has yet to be determined.
Bradford has competed in the CCC since 1978. The Railroaders will compete with nine other schools in a conference whose name has yet to be determined.
Lehhman competed as an independent for a number of years following the break up of the SRC in 2001. From 2009-11, the Cavaliers competed in the MBC in football only. In 2012, Lehman joined the NWCC in football only. All of Lehman’s athletic teams joined the NWCC the following year. Lehman has remained in the NWCC ever since.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twiter @thefong