The SWC, which currently has Avon Lake, Westlake, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls, Amherst, Berea, Brecksville and Midpark as its eight members, has a void coming up soon when Berea and Midpark combine to make one large school. The vacant spot has already been filled by Avon, a rapidly growing community that excels at many of its sports.
When it comes to conference changes, most people point to football as the key deciding factor, and that is likely being considered when it comes to the new SWC alignment. The SWC has announced that current WSC schools Rocky River, North Ridgeville, Midview and Lakewood have applied to join the SWC – the same year Avon does – in 2015-16. The SWC may accept only two of the schools, but there is a chance it could accept all four, which would likely break the SWC up into two divisions.
When schools have 10 or more teams in its league, it could make scheduling a little hectic, and with only 10 regular season games played for football, with three typically coming from nonconference opponents, things could get real tricky. A 10-team league could mean eight, maybe even nine, conference games with just one nonconference opponent to face. When it comes to computer rankings for earning key points for the playoff system, teams like to schedule tougher, bigger opponents in the early part of the season, so the SWC schools will likely want to play at least two nonconference games.
This may be why the SWC may expand to 12 teams and split into two divisions. Each football team would play a minimum of six conference games within its conference division, with possibly one crossover game from another league team of the other division. That way the teams still get to play at least three nonconference opponents with hopes of gaining some key computer points for the state playoff rankings.
If the SWC opts to go for just 10 teams, Rocky River and North Ridgeville seem to make more sense. They are close in proximity and size, and seem to be better fits than Lakewood and Midview. An SWC with 10 teams would likely mean fewer non-conference games, but it could make for an interesting season-to-season football schedule, mixing it up so there is a different team, or teams, appearing (or disappearing) off the schedule from year to year.
What would these changes mean for the WSC? It’s likely the beginning of the end. With Vermilion already leaving after this year, that leaves Bay, Elyria Catholic and the two schools that aren’t accepted into the SWC (if they opt for two and not all four) left. The league will likely not be able to find any area teams to join the WSC, and the remaining teams will likely have to go independent or join another one, like the Patriot Athletic Conference.