After NAQT cut 2 packets from the IS sets, the schedule had to be modified to reflect that. I chose to cut from the league portion rather than try to reconfigure the tournament. This meant that Sebring and Columbiana were spared relegation while Badger and United were battlefield promoted to a new, 12-team First Division.
Mineral Ridge becomes the latest Trumbull County school to join, giving the League a full complement of 24 schools. They will take their place in the Second Division - North, pushing Cardinal Mooney to the South section.
For the _2018_ season, the top 3 from each section of this season's First Division will stay put. The fourth and fifth placed teams will be in the Second, while the sixth placed team goes to the Third. From this season's Second Division, the winners will stay put in the Second, the second and third placed teams will go to the Third, and the bottom three will form the Fourth. If any new teams are added in 2018, I will split the Fourth Division into sections.
Largely because of my move to the Columbus area, I didn't run anything for HS teams in the area this fall, so many teams are coming in totally cold.
First Division -- East Section
6. East Palestine (4-10 V, 2-12 JV)
5. Columbiana (2-12 V, 6-8 JV; 2-7 SSNCT)
These could go either way. Columbiana was dismal and winless all season until they beat East Palestine twice in the final week to get their SSNCT bid, then make a run to 5th in the tournament. East Palestine had close wins over South Range and Sebring as well as a near upset of Fitch before letting down against Columbiana. They qualified to, but did not attend, SSNCT for the first time and finished 7th at the tournament.
4. Lowellville (11-3 V, 8-6 JV; 6-5, t-25th SSNCT)
The best season in Rockets' sweet history ended with a couple of nearly missed attempts to dethrone Boardman both in the league and the tournament, then a great run to the playoffs in Chicago. They lose almost all of the scoring production from that team, so expect a bad fall.
3. Badger (10-2-2 V, 5-9 JV)
If they return any scoring from last season, they should get to this position. As they haven't submitted a roster yet, I don't know whether or not that's the case.
2. Poland (14-0 V, 12-2 JV)
Finally, Poland played up to its potential. They still sub waaaaaay too much, but the talent was there to push them along. They should be able to consolidate their position this year in the top division by taking advantage of some big weaknesses in the small schools below them.
1. Boardman (12-0-2 V, 13-1 JV)
The Spartans win the section, the League, and probably the tournament without much to worry about. Pranav is already in Brianna/Jarret territory in terms of highest scoring players ever to buzz in the League. He's a junior this year...and it looks like some support is developing from the seemingly neverending supply of great JV players. Will they go to Atlanta, and if so, how deep will they go? That will depend on what they do outside the League. So far, they're on the right track.
First Division -- West
6. Sebring McKinley (3-11 V, 1-13 JV)
Unless they unearth another diamond like Wyatt or George, they might go winless and fail to secure a SSNCT bid. Preparations have been disrupted by doubts over the team's continued existence, but the passage of a levy allows them to go on.
5. South Range (5-9 V, 6-8 JV)
Year 2 AM (After Molnar) isn't going to bring about any major changes. There are no seniors on the varsity roster, though, so things may accelerate in 2018. Definitely stronger in the returning lineup than Sebring, and will probably give United a game, but not good enough to get to the top 3.
4. United (12-2 V, 12-2 JV; 3-6 SSNCT)
If they were on the other side of the Division, they would definitely be top 3. Here, they have to try to take wins from the big schools in order to make maximum benefit of the after-the-fact promotion they've been given. A fair showing at SSNCT and, as mentioned last year, an enthusiastic coach help...ultimately, it's down to whether their top scorer from last year both returns and chooses to work on this activity. If he does, they could upset any of the teams to come.
3. Warren G. Harding (14-0 V, 11-2-1 JV; 4-6 HSNCT)
Seth graduated, which eliminates over 100 ppg of scoring. The JV team had good balance in scoring, though, and combined with any remaining varsity players, should be enough to ensure First Division status in 2018.
2. Austintown Fitch (8-6 V, 11-3 JV)
The Falcons seem to overperform expectations, so I'm trying to get ahead of the curve by picking them here. I may change it after I see their roster, though...
1. Canfield (9-3-2 V, 9-5 JV)
The 2 ties were both against Boardman. Both times, they relinquished leads on tossup 24. The top scorer is gone, but the #2 and #3 return and reinforcements are coming from the JV team. I think they want another shot to finish what they did last year, and now that they've removed themselves from the subbing trap, they could get there.
League Championship Series: Boardman d. Canfield, 2-0. They might want the Spartans, but they aren't beating them.
Second Division -- North
6. Chaney (1-13 V, 2-12 JV)
New coach. 5 total players, all freshman. May not field a JV team. Still, I'm glad they can continue to exist.
5. Campbell Memorial (1-13 V, 0-14 JV)
I give them credit for hanging in during a tough season. If any of them are returning, they should be able to beat Chaney, but it looks like another long year.
4. Mineral Ridge (new)
They've played a bit before, both at the HS and MS levels, but until I see them I have to put them here.
3. Maplewood (6-8 V, 8-6 JV)
They split with both Champion and Brookfield last season, so there's a chance they could go one better this season, but I'm thinking not yet.
2. Champion (7-6-1 V, 6-7-1 JV)
The loss to Maplewood last year was by 5 and the tie was against Brookfield. It's really hard to tell between them and Maplewood right now...no rosters for either.
1. Brookfield (6-6-2 V, 11-3 JV)
They have the returning experience and the better JV team rising to make me think they will be the ones on top at the end of February.
Second Division -- South
6. Wellsville (3-11 V, 3-11 JV)
I hate to put them here, because I know they are working and I know they have good leadership, but it's a multi-year process...right now, it's just year 2.
5. Springfield Local (6-8 V, 3-11 JV)
They don't have the scoring at any level to mount a challenge this year. They may struggle against Wellsville if they've been doing work.
4. Western Reserve (5-9 V, 9-5 JV)
It's strictly on the performance of the JV team last year that I think the Blue Devils can get here. They outscored their varsity (and both Tiger teams below them) at times, though they are starting to fall into the sub trap.
3. Jackson-Milton (6-8 V, 6-7-1 JV)
This is a decent team for this level, and I think they have found their level over the last two seasons. Unless there's been some serious off-season work, they're here.
2. West Branch (10-4 V, 10-3-1 JV)
They have more in the tank than the Blue Jays or others below, but the level of competition they played last season wasn't as strong as what they would have had in the other section. Even so, they barely cracked 200 ppg. Good enough for this spot.
1. Cardinal Mooney (8-5-1 V, 12-2 JV)
So long as the core of the team returns, they should win the section. As the only private school, I believe they will just sneak under the 350 cap for SSNCT, meaning they would qualify with 1 win. I hope they go.
Division Championship Series: Cardinal Mooney d. Brookfield, 2-1. This would be a pretty awesome, well-matched series if it happens.
Greg Bossick, formerly Persona Non Grata
Mogadore '98, Youngstown State '02
Director of the Mahoning, Ashtabula, Portage, and Toledo Area Quizbowl Leagues