The Tri-Valley League will be a little out of whack this fall.
Say hello to Sharon Springs, which will become the 11th member of the all-Class D league at the start of the 2015-16 academic year.
“Sharon Springs is indeed entering the Tri-Valley for the 2015-2016 season and we are happy to have them,” T-V President Bill Dorritie said. “Since that gives us 11 teams and would lead to unbalanced divisions and scheduling issues, we are doing what other leagues like the (Midstate Athletic Conference) are doing.”
By welcoming Sharon Springs, which will leave the Western Athletic Conference, the T-V will stray from its traditional two-division format and implement a three-tiered playoff system similar to that of the MAC. Beginning this fall, T-V teams will play each other once during a 10-game regular season per sport, with league records determining seeds for mini-tournaments in the postseason.
So instead of a crossover championship game between the East and West division winners, the new no-division format will give the top four teams a chance to win the T-V title in each sport. The top seed will host the No. 4 seed in one semifinal, with No. 2 hosting No. 3 in the other. Semifinal winners will then go head-to-head for the overall league championship.
“This type of schedule also allows schools to enter more tournaments, play more non-league games, etc.,” said Dorritie, whose league currently plays a 13-game schedule as the five teams in the East and the five in the West face division opponents twice and non-division foes once during the regular season.
Starting with the 2015 soccer season, the T-V playoffs will feature a tournament for the 1-4 seeds, another for the 5-8 seeds, and a round-robin event for the 9-11 seeds.
Dorritie said title games — for those seeded 1-4 — will still be played in Oneonta as the Wright National Soccer Campus and Oneonta State will continue to host finals in soccer and basketball, respectively. Other playoff games will take place at the higher seeds’ home fields or courts, he said.
“There have been several years where the two best teams in our league for a given sport are in the same division and therefore haven’t been able to play each other to determine a true champion,” said Dorritie, who added that he has received lots of positive feedback about the change from coaches and athletic directors alike.
Cherry Valley-Springfield AD Tom Brigham is one of the supporters.
“I am in favor of the new alignment for the T-V,” he said. “I think the two best teams will play for the championships.”
Sharon Springs also will switch from Section Two to Section Four to complete the move, which was approved last month by its Board of Education. T-V and Section Four officials also have approved the Spartans’ move, Dorritie said.
Located on Route 20 in Schoharie County, Sharon Springs is one of two Class D schools in the WAC, along with Northville.
“We’ve relished our role as a small Class D school that competes with pride against larger C schools, but there are some traditional powerhouses in the Tri-Valley League, so the competition would still be there,” Sharon Springs Superintendent Pat Green told the TimesJournal Online. “(The move) would just give us a chance to be more successful.”
The T-V has had 10 teams since 2010, when Richfield Springs joined after leaving the Center State Conference and Section Three. RS had competed against mostly Class C schools such as Cooperstown in the CSC before the move.