October 1, 2009

Brookfield, Clark County Departing Tri-Rivers Conference at Season’s End

On the surface, removing the defending Class 2 state champions and a two-plus hour bus drive from the Scotland County schedules can’t be all bad, can it? While the recent news that Clark County and Brookfield will be leaving the Tri-Rivers Conference at the end of the year wasn’t all bad, the two schools jump to the Clarence Cannon Conference will definitely have a ripple effect on the TRC.

“The conference superintendents and athletic directors will be meeting tomorrow night [September 30th] to discuss what this means for the Tri-Rivers Conference,” said SCR-I Superintendent Dave Shalley. “It effects us the most in football, but it will impact scheduling for nearly all of the extra-curricular programs.”

The Tri-Rivers Conference was born out of the NEMO Conference in 1972-73. Canton was initially a member, but chose to drop out of the league when football was mandated. Brookfield, an independent at the time, was later added to the league by the Missouri State High School Activities Association and voted in by the conference schools.

What has been an eight school conference since its inception in the early 1970s, will be down to six member schools in 2010. That will leave Scotland County, North Shelby, Knox County, Milan, Putnam County and Schuyler County scrambling to fill their 2010 football schedules.

Each high school team plays a 10-week regular season. In years past, seven of those 10 games had been versus fellow TRC opponents. With the departure of Clark County and Brookfield, the remaining six squads will have two openings to fill.

“This move definitely has created some work for the schedulers,” said Scotland County Athletic Director Kevin Gundy. “It is getting tougher and tougher to find games for the football schedule.”

The move makes scheduling sense for Clark County and Brookfield, which are both Class 2 schools in football. They both currently are in class 2 District 8 for the state playoffs, meaning they must play each other, Highland and Macon, which are both Clarence Cannon Conference teams.

Fellow CCC Mark Twain, Monroe City, Palmyra and South Shelby are all in Class 2 District 7. Centralia is in Class 2 District 5 and the lone CCC school in Class 1 is Louisiana.

Clark County R-I Superintendent Ritchie Kracht stated the CCC will now feature two five-team divisions. The “big” schools, Clark County, Palmyra, Centralia, Macon and Brookfield will be in one division, with the five smaller schools making up the other division.

The CCC teams will play each of the four teams within their own division as well as three of the five schools in the other division, leaving three “open” dates.

Kracht indicated a desire to keep Scotland County on the football schedule for the Indians.

“Depending on our district assignments, we are looking at having one to three open dates on our football schedule, and we hopefully will still be able to play the Tigers,” he said.

The district assignments announced by the Missouri State High School Activities Association in January or February will be the key in building future schedules for the remaining TRC teams.

Gundy explained those assignments define the final three games on the football schedule heading into the state playoffs. When district assignments change, that creates adjustments in the schedule, as those games, if against previously scheduled opponents, must be shifted to the final three weeks. Or if new opponents are put together via changing district assignments, even further schedule juggling must occur.

Barring any district assignment changes, Scotland County and the remaining TRC schools will have to fill two voids in the schedule in 2010.

Currently SCR-I had non-conference games versus Salisbury and Highland. In 2008 the district entered a two-year agreement with Cole Camp, which is south of Sedalia, to fill the final open date on the schedule for a home and away series.

With Iowa schools scheduling basically handled by the state association, SCR-I is limited in options to the north to fill its open dates.

“That basically leaves us looking south and west,” said Shalley. “Either way it is going to be a long trip. Our geographic location puts us in a bind.”

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