So long South Range, we almost got to know you.
That's what members of the future Eastern Buckeye Conference, currently the Northeastern Buckeye Conference, are probably saying to themselves after learning South Range is departing the league before it played a single game in it.
The South Range School Board voted 4-1 in a special session May 23 to leave the new Eastern Buckeye Conference immediately to join the new Northeast Eight Athletic League.
The move was first reported by Dana Balash of WFMJ TV 21 in Youngstown.
Seven members of the Northeast Eight Athletic League were former members of the Youngstown-Warren based All-American Conference, including Hubbard, Struthers, Girard, Poland, Jefferson, Lakeview and Niles McKinley. South Range is a former member of the now-defunct Inter-Tri-County League.
South Range was voted into the Eastern Buckeye Conference last June and would have joined Alliance, Marlington, West Branch, Minerva, Salem, Carrollton and Canton South high schools. South Range was to begin play in what currently is the Northeastern Buckeye Conference in the fall of 2018.
They were to replace Louisville.
Stunned would be the reaction of Eastern Buckeye Conference members when informed of the South Range vote to leave Tuesday.
It's believed South Range's decision was based on the fact that it will be playing teams from Mahoning and Trumbull Counties that it's familiar with in the Northeast Eight Athletic League. Despite voting to join the Eastern Buckeye Conference last spring, it was a move greeted with mixed emotions at the time by its fan base.
That's because South Range has little history with the Stark-County based Northeastern Buckeye Conference (future EBC) members outside of West Branch, which is a Mahoning County School, and Salem, a Columbiana County school.
Now, the $65,000 question is who replaces South Range to be the eighth member of the EBC?
The other schools who applied to join the Eastern Buckeye Conference a year ago were Crestview and St. Thomas Aquinas. Crestview would be the smallest member in the EBC but is a growing school district (an increase of 400 students in the past 10 years).
Initially, Crestview had the votes and was expected to be admitted as the eighth member of the Eastern Buckeye Conference last year but South Range entered the mix late in the application process and blew everything out of the water.
At the time, EBC officials were impressed with South Range's facilities and presentation and the Raiders got the 11th hour nod.
A person with incredible insight into the situation was contacted \ and said Crestview wouldn't hesitate a second to still join the Eastern Buckeye Conference, if asked. They were already successfully vetted a year ago.