Southwestern Ohio Conference schools are gearing up for the loss of Edgewood and Ross, who announced Jan. 24 they are leaving the league to join the Southwestern Buckeye League in 2023-24.
That move will leave the SWOC with only four schools, but Talawanda Athletic Director Wes Cole said they are not in crisis mode about filling the vacancies. They are already in discussions about it, but want to move carefully to assure any schools they bring into the league are a good fit with the remaining four — Talawanda, Harrison, Mount Healthy and Northwest.
Edgewood and Ross were among the eight original members of the SWOC which began competition in the fall of 2012. Wilmington left the SWOC after two years, leaving the league with seven members and Little Miami left in 2020.
“We are weighing our options. We have had conversations with the remaining members about adding schools,” Cole said. “Since I have been here, we have talked about trying to add teams to our league. We’ve heard options for schools.”
He said the four remaining schools had a prior inkling about the possible departure of Edgewood and Ross but it was made official at the last league meeting when they formally announced their plan to leave the SWOC.
Both of those teams, as well as Talawanda had been members of the Fort Ancient Valley Conference (FAVC) prior to the formation of the SWOC as the FAVC collapsed with schools withdrawing and moving to other leagues.
Ross had been in the FAVC for more than three decades, while Edgewood had only been a part of that league since 2006.
Cole said he was not in the athletic director’s job at Talawanda when the SWOC was formed, but came in while Wilmington was still a member in their final year.
“Now, we are down to four. We’ve got to get other teams to join in with us,” he said. “We are hearing all over the state, people are moving, people are shifting. It started with the colleges and has worked down to high school.”
Schedules are set for the next two years and Cole said the biggest challenge will be filling out football schedules after the loss of Edgewood and Ross.
“The biggest scheduling work will be football. For the other sports, we can just add non-league games,” he said.
Edgewood is the reigning SWOC football champion, succeeding Ross which won the title in 2020. The Cougars won outright titles in 2016 and 2017 and shared the top spot with Harrison in 2018.
Edgewood recently won the boys’ basketball championship for the current school year and Ross won it a year ago. Edgewood won the girls’ basketball title a year ago.
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