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Rogue River will move to 3A classification in 2008

After a unanimous vote on Monday by the Oregon School Activities Association Executive Board, Rogue River High School will move from the Class 4A Skyline Conference to the Class 3A Sunset League next season.

Rogue River currently has an enrollment around 365 students — the Class 3A limit is 400 — and has had difficulty regularly competing with the larger Skyline Conference schools such as Hidden Valley (849 students), Phoenix (735 students), North Valley (678 students), Henley (668 students) and Illinois Valley (436 students).

"I like the Skyline Conference, but for us, especially in football, trying to compete with the numbers they have (is difficult)," Rogue River athletic director Randy Goss told The World newspaper.

Rogue River's football team went 0-5 in league play and 2-6 overall this past season. The Chieftains were outscored 243-41 in five league games this season and by an average margin of about 40 points per game.

Rogue River has at times been competitive in softball and baseball and often in cross country at the 4A level, but a move to the 3A level is expected give all the Chieftain programs a boost.

"It will be good — just to increase the school spirit," Goss said of the move.

The news was met with some disappointment from the Sunset League, primarily because of scheduling challenges and budgetary issues.

Cascade Christian joined the league last season, making the leap from Class 2A. Adding Rogue River will make eight teams in the Sunset League, eliminating the bye week that the teams enjoyed this season in football.

"Now we have to find room in our schedule for fall (sports)," Coquille athletic director Dan Cumberland told The World newspaper. "(For) football, we already had a full schedule.

He later added: "We understand Rogue River's plight. It's not like we were against them coming in."

The OSAA Executive Board reviewed 16 cases, but only Rogue River and Portland Lutheran will move classifications.

Marist was the only school that asked to move up, from Class 4A to the Class 5A Midwestern League, but was denied in a 5-4 vote.