Because some schools are tired of Huntington St. Joe dominating girls Class A high school basketball in West Virginia, the Secondary School Activities Commission has decided to punish Winfield.
That's not the intended consequence of the convoluted new four-class proposal for boys and girls basketball, but that's what's likely to happen. In effort to prevent private, urban schools from winning at a significantly higher rate, the governing body of state sports plans to experiment for two years with a formula that classifies schools based 70 percent by enrollment, 20 percent by location to a city or county seat and 10 percent by a combination of the economics of the county and students enrolled. This sounds akin to if it rains in Topeka on Thursday and the crow flies north in three of the next five days, Hannan plays Cabell Midland in the sectional semifinals in Des Moines.
Winfield, currently a Class AA school, would be affected as much or more than any, bumping to Class AAAA. Buffalo, a Class A school ticketed for Class AA, also is against the proposal. The Bison's biggest sin apparently is being located too close to Winfield, as Buffalo has an enrollment smaller than 11 schools that will be in Class A.
Winfield principal Bruce McGrew told HD Media's Ryan Pritt he is vehemently against the change.
"Why are we experimenting with student athletes," McGrew asked. "Because I'm a boys basketball or girls basketball player? That's not right. We're toying around with student lives and we're in this business to promote and help students, not experiment with them. We shouldn't be putting students at risk like this. Saying to our basketball players, 'Go get 'em. Go through Martinsburg and Capital and you can win 4A.'"
Jim Dagostine, who has coached various sports for 48 years and won a Class AAA state soccer title with the Hurricane boys in 2017, pulled no punches in his analysis of the SSAC's reasoning.
"Everybody knows why they did it," Dagostine said. "They wanted to move up the private schools."
If the plan is implemented, winning a state basketball title in West Virginia might be easier than a district championship in Ohio. West Virginia will feature four classes for fewer than 130 schools. Ohio divides 792 schools into four classes.
If the SSAC thinks the problem is recruiting, then address that. If it believes the rub is that private schools may draw players from a larger areas than public schools, tackle that issue.
CONDOLENCES: Prayers for the friends and family of former Ironton football coach Bob Bruney, who died last week in his home town of Martins Ferry, Ohio.
Bruney coached the Fighting Tigers from 1966 through 1971. His teams went 29-29-2. In 1971, Ironton won a share of the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League and finished 9-1. The Tigers were ranked as high as fifth in Class AA in the Associated Press poll that season.
One of Bruney's signature victories came in 1968 when the Tigers defeated Ashland, the top-ranked team in Kentucky. That triumph was Ironton's only win in a 1-7-2 season.
Bruney resigned to become head coach at Martins Ferry. He was replaced by Ironton St. Joe coach Bob Lutz, who went on to become the winningest coach in the history of Ohio high school football.
RECRUITING ROUNDUP: Spring Valley baseball standout Tyrus Baumgardner received an offer from Salem University. ... Fairland volleyball star Bailey Roland picked up an offer from the University of Rio Grande. ... Poca boys basketball all-stater Isaac McKneely received an offer from Davidson College. ... Former Huntington St. Joe boys basketball star Deaundra Murphy has transferred from Marshall University to West Virginia State University. ... Chapmanville boys basketball star Obinna Anochili-Killen was offered by Kent State University.
Ironton fullback Beau Brownstead visited Denison University. ... Wheeling Central girls basketball standout Eden Gainer picked up offers from Brown University and Columbia University. ... Fairmont Senior basketball star Jalen Bridges received offers from Texas A&M and the University of Alabama. ... Raceland football player Ethan Cox was offered by Mount St. Joseph's. ... West Virginia University offered Fairmont Senior sophomore girls basketball player Marley Washenitz.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES: Basketball players Sean Hoskins and Jordan McGinnis reportedly have transferred from Woodrow Wilson to Greater Beckley Christian. ... Former Belfry football star RayQuan Horton has been medically disqualified to play at Eastern Kentucky University this season after undergoing a second surgery to replace a severely torn pectoral muscle. ... Logan boys basketball all-stater David Early has transferred to Beckley Prep. ... Katelyn Kelly of Tolsia made the University of Rio Grande Camp all-star team and was the event's free throw champion. ...
Former Huntington High baseball standout Jack Brunetti of the University of Charleston was named a Division II Conference Commissioners Association third-team all-American. ... Former Alexander coach Blaine Gabriel is the new boys basketball coach at Nelsonville-York. ... Cassidy Roney is the new head volleyball coach at Portsmouth Notre Dame. ... College Football News named former Cabell Midland defensive end Reese Donahue of West Virginia University the No. 28 player at his position in the country.