Kent Roosevelt's impending absence leaves PTC in state of rebuild

By Colin Harris | Staff Writer Published:

By Colin Harris | Staff Writer

When Kent Roosevelt sent waves through the Portage Trail Conference last weekend, announcing its intention to leave the league for the Suburban League, the news was significant for many reasons.

Roosevelt will be joining the newly renamed Suburban Athletic Conference alongside Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson and Twinsburg.

Aurora and Brecksville-Broadview Heights are rumored to also be joining the league pending school board approval next week.

On paper, the move seems to be logical for Kent Roosevelt, which will find itself with a league that closer fits its enrollment figures.

Since the formation of the PTC in 2005, Kent Roosevelt has been, by far, the league's largest member.

According to the most recent OHSAA enrollment figures, Roosevelt has 443 boys and 448 girls spread across grades 9, 10 and 11 as of the start of the 2013 school year. Ravenna is the next-largest school in the PTC, as it is currently constructed, with 339 boys and 314 girls.

Membership in the Suburban League would actually place Roosevelt toward the bottom of member schools in terms of size.

According to Walker, Roosevelt would join a small-school division of the Suburban, alongside Highland (435 boys, 438 girls), Copley (471, 396), Aurora (387, 400), Cloverleaf, (398, 348) Revere (360, 319) and Tallmadge (344, 319).

Kent Roosevelt is not the first team to leave the PTC, with Windham (Northeastern Athletic Conference) and East Canton (Inter-Valley Conference) departing at the close of last school year, but lifting the Rough Riders' athletic programs is a high-profile loss for the league.

Since the creation of the PTC in 2005, Kent Roosevelt has won 47 league championships -- the most by any school.

WHEN IS KENT ROOSEVELT INTENDING TO LEAVE THE PTC?

Reports have led to some discrepancy in the exact year that Kent Roosevelt will leave the PTC.

According to a press release, the school intends to join the Suburban League at the start of the 2016-17 school year. In a joint press release distributed on Tuesday, the school districts of Twinsburg, Stow, Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls announced they would be joining the Suburban League at the start of the 2015-16 school year.

The idea is for all of the schools to join in the same year, but the year has not been set in stone yet.

According to sources, the Suburban League's first literature listed 2016-17, but is now exploring the idea to speed up the process in time for 2015-16.

Bottom line, at least in regards to Kent Roosevelt: The official move date has not been finalized and will not be set until some point in the future.

DOES THE MOVE IMPACT KENT ROOSEVELT'S LONG-STANDING RIVALRY WITH RAVENNA?

According to Kent Roosevelt Assistant Superintendent Thomas Larkin, the answer is no.

At Tuesday's Kent Board of Education meeting, Larkin was quoted as saying, "Whatever Ravenna decides, we expect and anticipate competing with them in every sport we possibly can."

It is safe to assume the feeling is mutual from Ravenna's point of view.

IS RAVENNA POISED TO LEAVE THE PTC?

Ravenna joined Roosevelt at the Suburban League's meeting in early June, but officials from Ravenna, as well as Keith Waesch, the PTC's acting commissioner, assert that the Ravens intend to remain a member of the PTC.

DID ROOSEVELT LEAVE THE PTC IN THE DARK OF NIGHT?

No. Nothing even close to it.

This is not a case of the Baltimore Colts packing up a truck destined for Indianapolis at 3 a.m.

While Roosevelt athletic director Mark Pfaff did say in late-June that the school intended to stay in the PTC, he never made a long-term commitment to the league.

According to Waesch, Roosevelt was up front with PTC representatives throughout the process.

"He kept us informed over the last three to four months since their original meeting (with the Suburban League) took place," Waesch said. "On the night (Roosevelt) made the announcement to leave the league, he called me personally before he released the news to the media."

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE PTC?

For the remaining members of the PTC, a shift could be on the horizon.

It's no secret that the PTC has been actively looking to add new member schools since the announcement of Windham and East Canton leaving the league.

Last May, Middlefield Cardinal and Burton Berkshire both called PTC officials to inquire about entry into the league. Both schools are currently members of the Chagrin Valley Conference, but announced their intentions to leave the league at the close of the 2014-15 school year.

According to Waesch, Cardinal and Berkshire have continued to show interest in joining the league.

"At our September AD (athletic director) meeting, we had an information meeting with Cardinal and Berkshire officials about the possibility of joining the conference," Waesch said. "The meeting was strictly informational, and I think the two schools have some other options as well."

The PTC's meeting with Cardinal and Berkshire took place prior to Kent Roosevelt's announcement to leave. The impact on Roosevelt's decision to leave on the state of the PTC, or the thoughts of Cardinal and Berkshire, are probably still being leveled out.

Waesch said on Thursday, however, that the PTC is absolutely going to add at least one school, but the magic number for the PTC is now three new member schools. The PTC was introduced as a 16-team league, with two eight-team divisions, back in 2005. This year and the 2014-15 year, the PTC will act as a 14-team league since Windham and East Canton departed.

While information can change at any point, the initial stance of the PTC would be to add three new schools with an enrollment size that would fit them into the small-school County Division. Their additions would replace Windham and East Canton, while bumping one of the County Division's larger schools -- Southeast, Streetsboro Woodridge -- up to the larger-school Metro Division.

"We're getting to a point where there's a disparity when it comes to schools in the County," Waesch said. "Streetsboro and Southeast are sitting at around 250 boys (across grades 9 through 11), while the next-highest school is Garfield with 176. And Waterloo, Rootstown and Mogadore are even smaller than Garfield. That's an average of 25 less boys a class between Woodridge and Garfield, and even more with a school like Mogadore or Rootstown."

So at this point, it is known that Cardinal and Berkshire have expressed interest. Is there a third team with immediate curiosity?

A quick look around the area landscape shows there are not a great deal of options for the PTC at the moment.

"If you look to the east, the schools there are not quick to relinquish their ties to the Youngstown and Warren teams," Waesch said. "In the west, you get into the Akron City Series and Suburban League, while teams in the south like Marlington, Alliance and West Branch seem to be happy.

"This is going to be a challenge for us, but we hope in the end to get to a 7-and-7 or 8-and-8 split (in the divisions), which is our best-case scenario."

The PTC is ready to expand back to its original 16-team status, but the PTC also wants to make sure that any new member would also be a good fit for the league -- both for the league's sake and the school's sake -- in both athletic competition and enrollment size.

"We want to make a level playing field for all of our schools" Waesch said. "We're concerned about our situation as a league, but we care about the individual schools in the league. We need to make sure the PTC is balanced."

The next discussion for the state of the PTC will be at the athletic directors' meeting scheduled for Oct.2, according to Waesch.

Email: charris@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9447

Twitter: @rcsportsnow

Facebook: Colin Harris, Record-Courier

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