By DYLAN MALONE
During the People, Places, and Profiles editions of the newspaper a few months back, I wrote an article about the ACAC and NHC. The idea of the piece was to highlight the flaws of the conferences purely based on the size changes of certain schools within the last decade and even longer.
I’m sure when the conferences were formed the teams were a lot closer in talent level, enrollment, and balance. That’s simply not the case anymore.
As much as I’d like to take credit for single-handedly dismantling the NHC with my writing, I’m afraid that there are a lot of people plenty more important than myself who have had this in the works for years now. These things take time, apparently.
The easy part is done. Simply telling the media and school systems that the Northeast Hoosier Conference will dissolve takes little thought or effort. The real challenge will be where the schools go now.
The largest reason for the folding of the conference was the unevenness of the schools from an enrollment standpoint. For more than a dozen years, Homestead and Carroll have run away with most conference titles in most of the team sports. Sure there are a few exceptions such as the Braves unbelievable run atop the NHC wrestling game but for the most part it has been a quest for second or third, particularly in the major sports like football and basketball.
I think that it was a matter of making the first movement for the conference. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, really. Jay County showed interest in joining a new conference getting invites from the ACAC and the North Central Conference down south and have ultimately decided to join the Starfires and Jets in 2014.
This move was probably a no-brainer for the Patriots. They would enter the ACAC as one of the largest teams with a huge chance for success as opposed to being one of the smaller schools in the NCC, home of some state titans like Richmond.
Committing to absorbing Jay County, where does the ACAC go from here? Nine surely was not the grand scheme in the end, I’m sure. If it was then the only logic I can see in it would be that perhaps Southern Wells has made their exit plan known to the rest of the conference. Already out of the football side of the ACAC, the Raiders have been opposed to the large schools joining the conference from the start of the conversations considering that Leo has only gotten larger in the last few years.
Should the ACAC entertain the idea of more schools joining, I foresee the smaller NHC schools consider joining such as Bellmont, Norwell, New Haven or even Columbia City. As for the larger schools, that may be more of a challenge.
The Summit Conference in Fort Wayne is a little rough around the edges for Carroll and Homestead. They’ve made it known that they are not interested in joining with the Fort Wayne Community Schools including North and South Side as well as the Bishops, and Wayne to name a few. That leaves the options limited for the Spartans and Chargers who would have to venture north to join a conference or trek west.
East Noble, DeKalb, and Columbia City could realign with schools up north which is what Garrett would have chosen to do from the ACAC had they that option but the smaller lake schools from the Angola area are doing just fine now without the larger Garrett to pick on them.
So many changes to the high school landscape are coming including this fall’s first look at the revamped 6A football and some teams moving classes due to the success factor. Now with the NHC going in a different direction it will only get more interesting as the months pass to see where each school lands and what sorts of new rivalries will unfold with the coming conference alignments.