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Inter-Valley Conference expanding to 14-school league

By ROGER METZGER GateHouse Ohio Media Published: May 26, 2017 10:00 AM
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NEW PHILADELPHIA -- Beginning with next fall's high school sports season, the Inter Valley-Conference will look a lot different.

That is when Claymont, Indian Valley, Tuscarawas Valley, Conotton Valley and Buckeye Trail will join the league.

Indian Valley and Tusky Valley will come from the Principals' Athletic Conference and Claymont will exit the East Central Ohio League, while Conotton Valley and Buckeye Trail are members of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference. Buckeye Trail also is part of the Pioneer Valley Conference.

The schools join current IVC members Tuscarawas Central Catholic, East Canton, Garaway, Hiland, Malvern, Newcomerstown, Ridgewood, Sandy Valley and Strasburg for a 14-school league.

Chuck Rest, who has been IVC commissioner since 1998, laid out the immediate future for the league at a media day held at Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School in New Philadelphia on Monday.

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In football, the league will have a North (small school) and a South (big school) division.

Claymont, Garaway, Indian Valley, Newcomerstown, Ridgewood and Tusky Valley will comprise the South Division, while Buckeye Trail, East Canton, Malvern, Sandy Valley, Strasburg and Tuscarawas Central Catholic will make up the North Division.

Conotton Valley's football games will not count as league contests, and Hiland does not have a football program.

"With Hiland not having football, it was a win-win for both of us because it gives us six schools in each division," said Rest. "They (Conotton Valley) felt it would be best for them that we (the IVC) didn't make them play football (in the league)."

For boys and girls basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball, the league also will be divided into two divisions.

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The North will be comprised of Central Catholic, Conotton Valley, East Canton, Malvern, Sandy Valley, Strasburg and Tusky Valley. The South will consist of Buckeye Trail, Claymont, Garaway, Hiland, Indian Valley, Newcomerstown and Ridgewood.

In volleyball and basketball, the teams in each division will play each other twice, along with two crossover games and the rest non-conference. In baseball and softball, teams will play one another in each division twice and the other division once, with the rest being non-conference games.

There will no longer be a sole champion in football, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball, but two divisional champions.

In addition, an "IVC Showcase" for volleyball and boys and girls basketball will also take place at the end of each regular season.

The first IVC Showcase for volleyball will be held at Indian Valley, while girls basketball teams will play at Hiland and boys basketball at Claymont.

"I want to showcase this league by having everyone at one place at one time," said Rest. "Our ADs are excited about this. The showcase games are built into the league schedule. It's going to be an all-day affair and something the fans will love."

Boys and girls golf will tee off league action in the fall.

Boys and girls golf will be an all-inclusive league with a regular season schedule sandwiched between a preseason and a postseason tournament. The preseason tournament and the postseason tournament will rotate at different courses.

Boys and girls cross country, wrestling, and boys and girls track will also be all-inclusive leagues with a postseason tournaments. Cross country will be at Claymont, while wrestling will take place at Sandy Valley and track and field will be at Newcomerstown in the first season of the revamped league.

There will no divisions for sports such as soccer and bowling because few of the schools participate.

At the middle school level, volleyball and basketball will mirror the high school approach. Wrestling and track will hold a league meet.

This is the first multiple school expansion for the IVC since 2001, when Conotton Valley and Sandy Valley joined when the former Jewett-Scio and Lakeland high schools were consolidated with Cadiz to create Harrison Central.

The origins of the IVC go back to 1968 with charter members Newcomerstown, Ridgewood, Malvern, Hiland, Garaway, Indian Valley North, Indian Valley South, Dennison St. Mary's and Dover St. Joseph.

Rest knows there will be growing pains for the expanded league.

"Sure, there are going to be problems," said Rest. "Nothing's perfect, but we feel we have a great league now and it's only going to get better."


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