With a rabid fan base, multiple sports capable of competing at the state level and a strong all-around athletic reputation, the Jonathan Alder High School athletic department is currently playing the role of the pretty girl at a party.
Alder is now getting attention from the Central Buckeye Conference (CBC) as it looks to expand its reach.
The northern Madison County district operated for nearly a decade as an independent – not playing a part in any conference from the time the Buckeye Athletic Conference folded in the spring of 2003 to the time it joined its current conference in the fall of 2014.
Alder is currently a member of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference (MOAC) Red Division and has been since 2014, but serious discussions have been held about the possibility of jumping to the CBC which features schools that are not located in the Central District.
The CBC, currently a 12-school league made up of teams from West Central Ohio including Bellefontaine, Benjamin Logan, Graham, Greenon, Indian Lake, Kenton Ridge, Northwestern, Shawnee, Stebbins, Tecumseh, Tippecanoe and Urbana, is going through changes of its own.
Tippecanoe and Stebbins are both leaving the league for the Great Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) and Greenon must decide by Jan. 20 on whether or not to stay in the CBC or accept an invitation to join the Ohio Heritage Conference (OHC) with West Jefferson. West Jefferson is tied to Greenon’s decision, as the Roughriders would be the second part of a two-school package deal that would see them leave the Mid-State League (MSL) Ohio Division and also join the OHC.
“If I get a formal invitation letter in front of me, it would be my recommendation to the board that we join the CBC,” Jonathan Alder director of athletics Tom Vargo said Tuesday. “What we want to do is be ready. The MOAC is not really stable right now and we don’t really know what’s going to happen. We don’t want to get stuck in a league that falls apart, we just want to be in a place that will be best for us.”
He continued, “The CBC is a great league. A group of us traveled to nine of the schools (not Greenon) and were warmly welcomed. They are schools of similar size and makeup to ours.”
This conference game of musical chairs has gone on for years and Madison County schools have become more and more involved. Fairbanks choosing to leave the MOAC and join the OHC started the ripple effect for the Madison County schools. Not long after Fairbanks announced its departure from its league, Madison-Plains chose to leave the MSL and join the Panthers in the OHC.
The move by both of these schools from their respective leagues left the remaining schools looking for options. When the MSL couldn’t come up with another school to fill Madison-Plains’ spot, West Jeff began to look around and the OHC appears to be its landing spot assuming Greenon decides to do the same.
“The CBC came to us last year but we weren’t really interested in changing leagues,” Vargo said. “But things started to change and all of a sudden the MOAC isn’t real stable now. The CBC contacted us again and we listened. Depending on what happens with Greenon (Jan. 20), we’ll be ready to take this to the board in February.”