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St. Mary's not wild about SCL

The Oregon School Activities Association is expected to assign St. Mary'sto the Southern Cascade League next week.

If it does, it won't be because the Medford prep school failed to putup a good fight.

The OSAA's executive board will decide next Monday in its meeting atWilsonville.

The impending move to the east -- in which the Crusaders and CascadeChristian will join Bonanza, Chiloquin, Gilchrist and Lost River -- hasbeen a source of discussion and anxiety for at least a dozen years, saysSt. Mary's principal Barbara Callaway.

It's all about playoffs, Callaway says. People go toextraordinary lengths when they're talking about the playoffs. That's notwhat education is about.

When Sacred Heart -- a Klamath Falls parochial school -- closed in themid-1980s and LaPine grew into the Class 3A ranks, the SCL was left withfour members. The OSAA has tried adding Crane and Culver into the leagueat times and was poised to move St. Mary's and Cascade Christian four yearsago. But the Rogue Valley schools, backed by the other members of the BigFir League, fended off the proposal and stayed put.

When the OSAA's redistricting plans for the next four-year block wereannounced, the Rogue Valley schools were again grouped with the four fromKlamath County. Cascade Christian apparently accepted its fate quietly,while St. Mary's launched a vigorous letter-writing campaign.

They're pretty adamant about the fact they don't want to go overthe mountain, says OSAA executive director Wes Ediger. They'vesent letters to the board, but I'm not sure how they're going to vote.

Four years ago, St. Mary's had an ally in its fight to stay in the BigFir League. Medford schools superintendent Steve Wisely headed the executiveboard and was sympathetic to the school's concerns. But Wisely is no longera member of the executive board.

Gilchrist principal Duane Barstad is, and he's delighted at the possibilityof having two new teams in the SCL.

We're looking forward to playing new teams and not playing eachother four times in basketball like we do now, Barstad says. ``Wetalk a lot about sportsmanship, but when you play each other four times,you know who's better and it can create hard feelings.''

Barstad says the executive board will rely heavily on the redistrictingcommittee's report when it votes.

Personally, I don't mind going over to Cascade Christian or St.Mary's, he says. We travel a lot on snowy roads.

Snowy roads, however, remain the sticking point for St. Mary's.

Given that Southern Oregon's Class 4A, 3A and 1A districts all requiretravel over the Cascades for league competition, St. Mary's has made a broadpitch to stay in the Big Fir.

We've talked about a combination of league history, expense (forstaying overnight because of storms) and travel time, Callaway says.

I came back from Gilchrist in whiteout (a few days ago) and I don'tlike to put kids on the pass during a snowstorm. That's not part of education.

St. Mary's also argued that the departure of two schools to the SCL wouldleave the Big Fir with just five football-playing members. That considerationchanged earlier this month when Gold Beach's school board reversed an earlierdecision to stay in the Class 3A Far West League and opted to join the BigFir. That would also mean two lengthy trips to the coast during basketballseason (Pacific High in Langlois doesn't play football).

The configurations keep changing, Callaway says. It'sreally been a moving target. We'll have to wait and see.

KLAMATH'S INDEPENDENCE -- Klamath Union's hopes of playing an independentfootball schedule appear to be dead. South Umpqua's impending departurefor the Far West League next fall leaves the Skyline with eight teams.

Klamath hoped to fill byes in what would've been a nine-team league.Now, the Pelicans are faced with taking the SOC head-on in 1998.

We've been through four head coaches since 1991, Klamathathletic director Barry Gotulla says. The number of kids going outis dropping and we're not able to field a JV team because the number ofkids injured or retired from varsity.

Lopsided defeats the Pelicans have endured in recent seasons have discouragedparticipation.

There are kids walking around school that aren't going to comeout unless we get into a competitive situation, Gotulla says. ``Theconference is so strong that you're not going to simply outcoach peoplebecause it's so much of a numbers game.

One move the school has made to build for the future is sending long-timevarsity assistant Brad Croxford down to institute head coach Wayne Amos'program.

Klamath would've needed the rest of the SOC's approval to go independentor, failing that, permission from the executive board. Even so, it appearsthe Pelicans would have difficulty lining up opponents for nine weeks.

SZUEBER SAYS SO LONG -- On the heels of OSAA probation and complaintsabout his team running up the score, Oakland football coach Cal Szueberhas resigned.

Szueber's three-year record was 21-8. The Oakers advanced to the playoffsthe past two seasons after a 26-year absence.

But 86-30 and 92-6 routs of North Douglas and St. Mary's created illwill. The Big Fir League district committee deemed that any time Oaklandtook a lead of 45 points through the 1998 season it would forfeit the game.The OSAA executive board concurred with the plan.

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