The York-Adams League could potentially land its 24th member in the near future.
Last week, at its school board meeting, Northern York discussed the idea of leaving the Mid-Penn Conference and joining the Y-A League as early as the 2018-19 sports season. Northern York is one of the original members of the Mid-Penn Conference, joining the conference at its inception before the 1982-83 sports season.
"We're evaluating our current position in the Mid-Penn, where we are and what the opportunities would look like if we would make a request to the York league," Northern athletic director Gerry Schwille said on Monday.
Schwille said he's been in contact with Y-A League executive director Chuck Abbott about the move and the two discussed timelines and where Northern would be placed if it joined the league. In most sports, there are three divisions in the Y-A League, but a few have four, a few have two and a few have just one division.
"My goal is to get a 24th school," Abbott said about the idea of expanding the league. "It just makes things so much easier, and then, if you look at Northern, it's a perfect fit."
Schwille said the next step the school will take is talking to everyone involved about the move, including coaches, teachers, administrators, parents and booster club members. He said he hopes to have that dialogue over the next four to six weeks during the February and March public comment periods during school board meetings, and then hopefully bring it to a vote at either the March or April school board meeting.
Northern competes within the Colonial Division of the Mid-Penn Conference and that division has undergone some shifts. James Buchanan had its request to be removed from the division in football approved by the Mid-Penn Conference back in November in the middle of the 2016-18 sports schedule cycle, leaving the other seven teams in the division, including Northern, with a hole in next year's football schedule. Big Spring put a request in to move to the Tri-Valley Conference, but later rescinded that proposal in January in all but two sports.
Geographical reasons: According to Schwille, among the biggest reasons the school is exploring the move is for travel purposes. Schwille said that just within the Colonial Division, Northern has three away trips of at least 60 miles — James Buchanan, Waynesboro and Greencastle-Antrim. That also doesn't include trips the school has made to State College since that program became a full-time Mid-Penn member in 2012-13.
If Northern was accepted into the Y-A League, the farthest trip Northern would have to make would be to Kennard-Dale, which Schwille said is 48 miles. At the other end of the spectrum, trips to schools such as Dover, West York, Gettysburg and Bermudian Springs wouldn't be more than 20 miles, at the most.
"You want to do traditional rivalries, and most of our games would be against Dover, West York and Northeastern, and then if we have to do Kennard-Dale, then we have to do Kennard-Dale," Schwille said. "But, those other three trips are much closer, and if I could give up those other three games to Franklin County, Mifflin County and State College, I'm way ahead of the game in terms of travel and class time."
Where Northern would fit: Right now, in most sports that are broken into three divisions within the Y-A League, there are eight teams that make up Division I and Division III and seven teams in Division II. Within District 3, Northern falls into either Class 4-A or Class 5-A, which would make it a good fit to join Division II in most sports and face local rivals such as Dover, West York and Northeastern, while also evening out the divisions with eight teams in each. That would do away with bye weeks late in the season, which are especially problematic in football.
"They're about the same size as West York and Dover," Abbott said. "It's anticipated that a lot of their sports will fall into Division II."
The last time the Y-A League expanded was before the 2014-15 sports season, when Gettysburg left the Mid-Penn Conference to become the 23rd member of the Y-A League.
Abbott said that at the next Y-A League AD meeting on Monday, officials will touch on the idea of Northern York potentially joining the league in brief, but won't fully discuss the school's inclusion until Northern makes a decision in the coming months about applying for membership.
"They bring credibility and there's a respect for other programs," Abbott said about Northern's athletic reputation. "Just with meeting with their administration, I think they're a first-class group of individuals and they have to look out for what's best for their student-athletes. They're going to make a tough decision and they have to base that on a lot of things, but what it comes down to, it's about the student-athletes and if it's a good fit for them."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com