Mifflin County makes smart move to Colonial Division
Geographic boundaries have a lot to do with how the Mid Penn Conference is aligned.
But sometimes, it simply comes down to what's good for the student-athletes.
There's no denying that Mifflin County's football team has been out of its league for quite some time. The Huskies have won just one football game in the last two years and none against Mid Penn Commonwealth Division opponents. But this year, that may change, as they join four of Franklin County's teams in the Colonial Division.
"I think it was kicked around as an idea to get better competition," Mifflin County defensive coordinator Rob Bay said. "In the Commonwealth, you look across the field and there's Division I players every week. We have some players who are good, solid athletes in our county, but maybe not that caliber that we can match up every week."
The Mid Penn aligns for a two-year cycle, so it's possible the Huskies and the conference will reevaluate after the 2017 season.
But for now, Shippensburg, Greencastle-Antrim, Waynesboro and James Buchanan will have a new foe.
"I don't know what to expect," Ship coach Eric Foust said. "The only thing we had in common is we both play Chambersburg, who was successful against them. So looking at that, you think, 'OK, that's good,' but the biggest thing for us is we play Mifflin County and West Perry at home, which is a definite benefit to us."
For the Colonial Division - which also saw the entrance of West Perry and the exit of East Pennsboro - the addition of Mifflin County means two big things: adding travel time and losing a crossover game with a team from another Mid Penn division.
"I think it's going to be a lot better than playing Susquehanna Township, who beat Bishop McDevitt and was in the district finals last year," JB coach Andy Stoner said. "I think they'll be easier for us to be playing than Township, and even East Penn. Roster-wise, we're just not ready for those teams."
The biggest offseason challenge is preparing for the unknown, but some teams have more time than others.
"If we played them earlier in the season, I'd probably be a little more concerned about it now," Waynesboro coach Steve Myers said. "But it's Week 10 for us, so we'll know a lot more about them by then. For us, I'm happy with it because with us being 5A, it gives us another team that's bigger (6A)."
And for Mifflin County, much of the offseason has been a focus on how to be successful in a brand new division.
"We're not really changing anything division-specific, but we've just kind of simplified things a bit offensively," Bay said. "We won't have as many formations as we threw out there last year, but defensively, we're staying pretty much the same. We just want to get that first year under their belts and go from there."