By CHUCK RIDENOUR
Daily Globe Sports Editor
Dust hasn’t even had a chance to gather on the new Sandusky Bay Conference banner in the gymnasium before Shelby announces plans to leave for a new athletic league.
Pending approval at tonight’s Shelby Board of Education meeting, Shelby will accept an invitation to join the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference.
By linking up with the MOAC, Shelby will join Richland County schools Ontario and Clear Fork, former long-time Northern Ohio League rival Galion as well as four schools from the Marion area — Harding, River Valley, Pleasant and Buckeye Valley.
According to Shelby High School principal John Gies, Shelby had previously applied for membership to the MOAC and was turned down.
“At that time, the MOAC had just lost a whole division and was looking to get back to eight schools. Clear Fork, Ontario, Loudonville and us applied for the two openings. They chose Clear Fork and Ontario,” said Gies.
Despite being denied membership then, Gies said the local school district informed the MOAC they were still interested in joining if anything opened up in the future.
In the last two months, North Union announced their intention to exit the MOAC and go with London to become a member of the Central Buckeye Conference.
“The MOAC sent us a letter inviting us to join the league. The administration discussed it and we also talked to our coaches about the MOAC,” said Gies.
The biggest negative about the SBC was travel time. Being the southernmost school in the conference, Shelby was looking at a number of hour drives as well as several that were even longer.
“We had heard from many in the community of not being fond of the travel in the SBC and we understood that,” said Gies.
In the MOAC, the shortest drive will be 10 miles to Ontario while the longest will be 53 miles to Buckeye Valley, which is located north of Delaware. Trips to Galion and Clear Fork are 16 and 27 miles, respectively. Jaunts to the Marion area schools are 37 miles to both Harding and River Valley and 44 miles to Pleasant.
During an interview Friday afternoon, Gies said “I don’t think you can find the perfect league right now. You try to get the best you can of similar schools and distance.
“The perfect league doesn’t exist, but the MOAC is a better fit for us. A trip to Ontario, a trip to Galion, a trip to Ontario — those are good trips.”
Gies noted a lot of work remains to be done. The timetable to join the MOAC is unknown. It could be a year from now, or it could be two years.
“Changing leagues requires a lot of work, especially for our athletic director Pat Lewis, when you’re trying to change schedules because it can be really difficult to do,” said Gies.
Commenting on the recent league upheavals, Gies said “it’s hard to imagine we can be in one league for over 70 years and in two years be in two different leagues in a short period of time.
“The landscape is still changing with leagues, but it’s starting to settle down. There are some nearby leagues that are not real stable. You never know what will pan out in the end.”
Although Shelby will be going away from some long-time opponents from their NOL days, Gies said there are some rivalries with former NOL schools that the local school district hopes they can continue.