Crook County will be in the league at least through the 2017-2018 school year

It’s official.

Next year, Crook County will have a Class 4A league home.

Hybrid leagues will be a thing of the past, and Crook County and Ridgeview will no longer be part of Special District 1 — a two-team league. Instead Crook County will be part of the six-team Tri-Valley Conference.

“I’m looking forward to going to a 4A league — to having a home,” said Crook County High School Athletic Director Rob Bonner following the announcement.

The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) Executive Board voted on Monday, Oct. 28, to approve the final recommendation of the Classification and Redistricting Committee. The approval came despite a small, but vocal group who were lobbying for last-minute changes to the recommendations.

Crook County will join the Estacada Rangers, Gladstone Gladiators, Madras White Buffalos, and Molalla Indians, as well as the Corbett/Charter Cardinals, who are moving up from the Class 3A Lewis and Clark League.

At the same time, two long-time league members will move out of the conference — North Marion to the Class 4A Oregon West Conference, and La Salle Prep to the Class 5A Northwest Conference.

This fall, Crook County’s football coaches were extremely disappointed when the team won five of their last six games, finished with a 5-4 record, and moved up to 23rd in the final power rankings without earning a play-in game.

Bonner noted that had the team been in the Tri-Valley Conference this year, that would not have happened. The top three teams in each league other than the Greater Oregon League and Special District 1 automatically qualify for a play-in game. Consequently, any team that went 5-1 during the league season would be guaranteed to at least earn a play-in game. Adding to the irony, Estacada, 3-7, who was third in the Tri-Valley Conference and 31st in the final power rankings, was the team that bumped Crook County out of a play-in spot.

“What happened in football was real frustrating,” Bonner said. “I mean the coaching staff did an amazing job from that 0-3 start to going 5-1 at the end and then to not be able to get that play in game — you know if we had a regular league that wouldn’t happen. So yeah, I’m looking forward to going to a 4A league.”

Although Crook County will definitely be a part of the Tri-Valley Conference, whether or not that will apply to all sports is still up in the air.

Currently, track and field, cross country, golf, tennis, and wrestling all go to regional tournaments in order to qualify for state championships in their respective sports. The OSAA Championship Committee has recommended that golf, cross country, and wrestling remain as regional events, while tennis and track and field move to league championships.

In addition, the State Championship Committee has also recommended that at the 4A level, each league will qualify just two teams for post season play in football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball with two at-large berths given to the two highest-ranked third- or fourth-place teams.

“I’m not sure how that’s going to look if we end up staying in the GOL for some sports,” Bonner said. “I’d like to see it where all sports are in a league like we used to do, but whatever we have to do — we will compete. I’d like to believe that we will all go to the Tri-Valley League. That’s the goal.”

Bonner added that he also wants to make sure that whenever possible, Crook County keeps its traditional rivalries.

“Years ago, when we were 5A and then went to 4A, we were in the IMC and we weren’t with Redmond anymore, but we kept wrestling Redmond,” he said. “We kept rivalries that were important to us and other sports can do that as well. Nobody loves a good rivalry more than I do.”

Any decision on the State Championship Committee recommendations will not be made until February of 2014.

Crook County is not the only Central Oregon team that will be changing leagues for next year. Ridgeview will officially become part of the Class 5A Intermountain Conference. La Pine will move from the Class 4A Sky-Em League to the Class 3A South Valley Conference. Culver will move from the Class 2A Tri-River Conference to the newly-created Rolling Plains League, and Central Christian will move from the Class 1A Big Sky League to the Mountain Valley League.

The decision by the Executive Board to accept the recommendation of the Classification and Redistricting Committee locks teams into their new leagues through the 2017-2018 school year. Beginning in 2015-2016, the committee will begin the process again for the following four-year block. Until then, Crook County is locked into the Tri-Valley Conference.

Both the redistricting and state championship plans can be seen in their entirety on the OSAA website at

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