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Indians had option to move down to 3A after winning less than 22 percent of games over last two years

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Molalla quarterback Isaac Thomas-Klementis throws a pass during the 2019 season.

Molalla had until Dec. 2 to let the OSAA know if it wanted to move down to Class 3A for football.

The Indians did not need to wait that long.

The decision to remain in 4A was an easy one, according to Molalla athletic director Kristen Rott.

"I don't think it would be good for the program that we have and the number of student athletes we have," Rott said.

Twenty-seven schools across all six classifications were given the option to move down due to winning less than 22 of their games over the last two seasons.

At 651 students, Molalla is the third biggest school in 4A, behind only Woodburn (1,154), which plays down a classification in all sports, and Marshfield (668).

When OSAA reclassifies in two years, Molalla could even jump to 5A.

"The next reclassification could have us at 5A, so 3A competition now would not really be preparing Molalla for long term success," Rott said. "If anything we want to increase competition to be preparing for the next level."

The Indians have also seen an increase in football participation. Molalla had fifty-three players on its final 2019 roster, compared to 46 the previous season.

"That speaks volumes compared to trends across the state and across the nation for football," Rott said. "I think that speaks very highly of our coaching staff. If you look at the program as a whole and where it is headed and what the coaching staff is going to be able to do and just the increase in student athletes at Molalla, I think it's an easy decision to say we want to stay at 4A."

The Indians also had an interim coach last season in longtime assistant Sean McElhaney.

Because the position was interim, Molalla will reopen it, but Rott said McElhaney, who went 2-6 this season, has been "highly encouraged" to apply.

"We'll go through the process like we would with anyone," Rott said. "The fact that it is being posted has nothing to do with him as a coach. It has everything to do with that it was an interim posting."

Molalla would like to see one change to its football program for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. After playing in Special District 1 with Banks, Seaside, Tillamook, Valley Catholic and Astoria the past two years, the Indians hope to return to a league with traditional Tri-Valley opponents.

OSAA's football ad-hoc committee released two 4A alignment options, one with four special districts and another with five, after its Nov. 18 meeting.

One had Estacada, Gladstone and Milwaukie joining Molalla in Special District 1. The other had Special District 1 remaining the same as the last two seasons, and Estacada and Gladstone staying in Special District 2. North Marion, another Tri-Valley team, was in Special District 2 in both proposals.

"We're watching that pretty closely," Rott said.

For updates from the football ad-hoc committee, including information on future meetings, go to www.osaa.org/governance/committees.


Derek Wiley
Reporter
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