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White Buffalos could be on the move in reorganized districts; Culver given option to drop down to 1A, but will stay in 2A.

WILL DENNER/MADRAS PIONEER - In the OSAA ad-hoc football committee's latest update, Madras is slated to join Special District 1 in 3A, which includes 11 other teams from around the state. One of those teams is Corbett (pictured above), which Madras beat 35-8 on Oct. 12, when both teams were playing at the 4A level. 
Significant, statewide changes appear to be coming to OSAA football for the next two seasons. Madras is one program at the forefront of them.

The reclassification and redistricting committee gave its final recommendation to the OSAA executive board in October. Once adopted, schools knew for certain which classification and league they would be part of for the 2018-22 time block. Also recommended, however, was the formation of an ad-hoc committee specific to football.

Declining participation rates in the sport have resulted in a number of issues for the OSAA to address. Among them is competitive balance, paying special attention to programs that have consistently struggled to win games during the last few seasons.

In its latest update, released on the OSAA's website Dec. 23, the ad-hoc committee has reached a consensus on a criteria system specific to football that would allow certain teams to play down one classification for the following two school years (2018-20). Madras is one of 21 schools that the committee recommends play down one classification based on the following criteria — "any school who meets the four-year winning percentage of 22 (percent) or lower threshold or played 12 or fewer in-classification games during the last four years."

Madras has indicated it will leave 4A for the next two seasons and play in 3A, should the OSAA Executive Board vote to accept the ad-hoc football committee's proposal. Head football coach Kurt Taylor said the move best suits the program, which had been on a 23-game losing streak until a win on Sept. 15 halted that slide.

We're excited about it; it's the best thing for the community," Taylor said. "We weren't copping out. We weren't doing this just to … take the easy way out. It will help us get more kids out for football and participate in athletics. It will help us continue to build the program in the right direction."

Taylor admitted when he initially heard of the committee's recommendation, he was torn. He felt Madras could've been successful at the 4A level, and the 2017 season that included two wins against 4A teams showed that potential. But after Taylor met with his coaching staff and school administrators, they reached a consensus.

"I think if you put the egos aside, you've got to do what's best for the program," Taylor said. "This is what's best for the program."

With so many football programs now shuffling, traditional leagues won't exist for the next two seasons. In the committee's proposal, Madras was placed in 3A's Special District 1, consisting of the following teams: Amity, Blanchet Catholic, Clatskanie, Corbett, Dayton, Rainier, Salem Academy, Scio, Taft, Willamina and Yamhill-Carlton.

Taylor said people assume that moving to 3A means Madras will be set up for immediate success, but the shift won't change the work that he and his fellow coaches, and players put into the program.

And, for what it's worth, in the newly proposed district that the Buffs are part of, three teams -—Amity, Dayton, Rainier — have each claimed one 3A state title since 2007, while Scio won two at the 2A level.

"It's not going to be some easy cupcake," Taylor said. "Nothing's going to be handed to us. We're going to really have to work hard, just like we have been."

An additional 11 schools meet the same rates for the latest two-year period, rather than four. Culver is one of those 11 schools. Although the committee recommends Culver play down to 8-man football in 1A under that criteria, Culver has already indicated it will remain at 2A, athletic director Shea Little confirmed.

Schools will have until Friday, Jan. 5, to make a decision on make a decision on district placement.

Contact Will Denner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow him on Twitter
@MadrasSports, @WillCDenner

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