By Jason Sturek
Pender Times Publisher
The East Husker Conference welcomed several new schools into the family last week as superintendents from all 10 current EHC schools voted in favor of welcoming Clarkson/Leigh, Dodge-Howells, Humphrey and Twin River beginning in 2012-13. Clarkson and Leigh will be cooperating in all sports but will be competing separately in other non-athletic activities.
Dodge and Howells are currently undergoing a consolidation process, so the actual name of that unified district will change.
Humphrey and Twin River will be participating on their own. Twin River is located in Genoa. The current EHC superintendents all voted in favor of one resolution welcoming the schools.
Now at 14 teams, the conference is still looking to expand to a total of 16 teams, according to Pender superintendent Jason Dolliver.
Dolliver also said that there will be an effort to split schools into divisions based on their enrollments, but no formal decision has been made on that yet.
Those final decisions will be made within the next month when all of the 14 voting members come together. The division concept that appears to be most likely is that the smallest seven schools and largest seven will be in separate divisions.
Current conference bylaws say that every school in the conference must play everyone else in sports like basketball and volleyball. That could change with the new divisional rules, which will only require that schools schedule those within their division in the regular season.
They will then be able to play the non-division schools as an option, though they will be encouraged to play as many conference schools as they can.
According to Dolliver, that has benefits for all of the schools. In the case of a larger school that might not get the chance to schedule bigger schools or perennially good smaller schools that may lead to bonus points in the wild card system, they will be able to do so. The same will be true of smaller schools that may prefer to play a schedule with more teams of their size.
“It frees up schools on both ends of the spectrum,” Dolliver said.
Dolliver said the consensus seems to be that conference tournaments would still include every team to be seeded according to their ability, rather than by division.
The sidebar shows schools as they would fit next year if the conference chooses to break by size. Oakland-Craig would be the largest “small” school.
The conference expansion process actually began last year when the EHC sent letters to about 15 area schools to seek out interest in joining.