It’s now official.
Logan High School is back into the Cardinal Conference.
In a move that was widely speculated, Logan will rejoin the Cardinal next season for the 2016-17 school year as LHS returns to compete at the Class AA level, Logan Athletics Director and Assistant Principal Brian Atkinson said on Thursday evening
Logan was last a Cardinal Conference team in 2003-08 but had to leave the league when it moved out of the 2A ranks to the Triple-A level.
The Cardinal will be expanding to 10 teams.
Also joining the league are former Class AAA schools Nitro and Winfield. Both of those schools are also dropping to Double-A next season after realignment was done last month.
The official word came out on Thursday following a meeting between Cardinal Conference schools.
The Cardinal Conference will also split into two five-team divisions: a North Division with Kanawha Valley schools Poca, Sissonville, Herbert Hoover, Nitro and Winfield; and a South Division made up of Coalfield area schools Chapmanville, Logan, Scott, Mingo Central and Wayne.
“We accepted the invitation along with Nitro and Winfield,” Atkinson said on Thursday evening. “It will be a 10-team league and it will be split into northern and southern divisions.”
Atkinson said it’s a good move for Logan to rejoin.
“It benefits all of southern West Virginia teams for travel, from a competitive standpoint and also financial,” he said. “I think it benefits all of us here. Our furthest travel time will be an hour and 20 mintues. By expanding we can also have more recognition with an all-conference team and also a possible championship game.”
Atkinson said Lincoln County and Point Pleasant, two more Class AAA schools that are dropping down to 2A next fall, had also asked to be in the league but were reportedly turned down. That would have put the league up to 12 teams.
“I would have liked to have seen Lincoln County get in it too. They wanted in but the invitation was not offered. Point Pleasant also wanted in. They are a founding member,” Atkinson said.
Point Pleasant last played in the Cardinal Conference during the 2011-12 school year but moved up to 3A.
Winfield is also a former member.
The WVSSAC completed its realignment recently and the new enrollment numbers and classifications are good for the next four academic years, starting in 2016-2017 and going through the 2019-2020 school year.
Logan had a lot of success in its last go-around in the Class AA-only Cardinal Conference, winning a state boys’ basketball championship in 2005 and also placing runner-up one year, taking two state titles in baseball in 2005 and 2008 and also winning a state title in girls’ softball in 2006.
Tolsia, which won the Cardinal Conference football title this season and lost to Bridgeport 39-0 last weekend in the Class AA state championship game in the Wheeling Super Six, is dropping down to Class A ball next season and will be leaving the league.
Atkinson said there’s still a lot of details to iron out.
One of the biggest is football scheduling.
Since many schools schedule games under two-year contracts it will be next to impossible for all 10 Cardinal Conference teams to schedule the other nine opponents next season.
The plan is for all 10 league teams to eventually play nine conference games and one non-conference game each season.
“We might not be able to get that all into line until 2017 because of the two-year contracts,” Atkinson said.
For boys’ and girls’ basketball, the plan is for each Cardinal Conference team to have 13 regular season league games — a home-and-home series against divisional opponents and a single crossover game vs. the opposite division teams. A 14th league game would then happen if a post-season conference tournament is played.
There is also the possibility of playing a North vs. South division Cardinal Conference championship game in basketball, softball, baseball and volleyball but that’s still early in the planning stages, Atkinson said.
“There’s still a lot left to be negotiated,” he said. “The idea is to have conference championship games in some of the sports. There will be 14 games where everyone plays each other and that will help cut down on travel time. In football we will play a nine-game conference schedule. That may change, though.”
Logan coach Gary Mullins was an early proponent of the Wildcats rejoining the league.
“It helps the scheduling and it helps your gate,” Mullins said in an earlier interview. “When we used to be in the Cardinal Conference we always had good gates and good crowds on Friday nights and you don’t have to travel all over the state to play. There’s nothing but positives as far as I am concerned.”
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).