Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BLHS board members support move to Frontier League

October 12, 2011

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Basehor-Linwood school board members said at a meeting Monday that they would support the move to the Frontier League if BLHS is accepted.

Joe Keeler, BLHS athletics director, told the board members Monday that he believed the KVL was on the verge of a shift. Along with Mill Valley, Bishop Ward is also likely to depart the league soon, he said.

Keeler said Tonganoxie was considering a departure, as well, and that Bonner Springs may also pursue a move.

“It's become quite apparent that our current league that we're in is in kind of a state of flux,” Keeler said, “for several different reasons.”

Those possible departures may combine with the arrivals of schools like Leavenworth, Atchison and Sumner Academy of Kansas City, Kan., to turn the KVL into more of an “urban” league, Keeler said Monday.

The Frontier League, on the other hand, is full of schools in smaller cities where “their school is still kind of the big deal in town,” Keeler said, making for a better fit for Basehor-Linwood.

Though the new league would require more travel, he said, its stability would benefit BLHS student-athletes.

“I just fervently believe that this takes care of our kids for a long, long time,” Keeler said.

He said the school would continue to compete against Tonganoxie and Bonner Springs even if BLHS ends up in a different league, through non-league or district competition.

And Keeler said the Bobcats, Chieftains and Braves could still end up together. If the Frontier League decides to expand to 10 teams, Tonganoxie and Bonner Springs could enter as well, he said. He guessed that if that were to happen, the league would likely split into two divisions for scheduling purposes, with BLHS landing in a north division along with THS, BSHS, De Soto and Eudora.

In an interview Friday with the Sentinel, Keeler explained how Basehor-Linwood’s relationship with the Frontier League unfolded.

The process began toward the end of the 2010-2011 school year when Keeler said the Frontier League approached BLHS and extended an invitation for the Bobcats to join the league. In the weeks and months that followed, BLHS administration, board members and coaches discussed the possibility of a league change.

“We decided that was something we should entertain the idea to do to put our kids in a stable 4A league for a long time,” Keeler said.

The Kaw Valley League currently has five 4A schools (BLHS, Bonner Springs, Bishop Ward, Tonganoxie, Piper) and three 5A schools (MVHS, Turner, Lansing).

The Frontier League recently lost Gardner-Edgerton to the East Kansas League. GEHS was a 5A school at the time, but it jumped to 6A this year. The Frontier League currently has seven schools: De Soto, Eudora, Paola, Baldwin, Spring Hill, Louisburg and Ottawa.

Keeler said if the Bobcats are accepted into the Frontier League, they would not begin play in the new league until the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year when the next two-year football districting cycle has concluded.

“If it ends up happening, you’re looking at three years,” Keeler said.

Keeler said he hopes an official decision on whether to stay in the KVL or join the Frontier League will be made soon.

Basehor-Linwood isn’t the only KVL school pondering a league change. Mill Valley also is considering departing. Matt Fedde, MVHS associate principal and building activities coordinator, said the school informed the Kaw Valley League that the Jaguars are having preliminary discussions about a league change.

Unlike Basehor-Linwood, which seeks a stable 4A league, Mill Valley is nearing the point of outgrowing its fellow league schools. Currently the ninth-largest 5A school with 1,140 students, MVHS expects to see a 100-student enrollment jump next year, with more to come in the future. This year, Mill Valley is 149 students away from joining the 6A ranks.

“We love the league, it’s been great for us, and a bunch of the teams in there are great,” Fedde said, “but it might be time to look around a little bit. If we’re going to be the team we want to be, we want to make sure we’re playing the teams that are going to play us in the postseason, too.”

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