Rebels finally find new home in AAC

COLUMBIANA — Crestview has landed itself a new league to call home.

The Crestview Board of Education approved the Rebels membership into the All-American Conference by a 5-0 vote at Wednesday’s meeting.

The AAC extended an invite to Crestview last week. Crestview had until July 1 to make up its mind.

“This is year 42 of me being involved with athletics, so I know nobody wants to be left out of being in a league,” AAC commissioner Rick King said. “I know they were on pins and needles, but all it took was a little patience. We’re happy to have them.”

The Rebels had been desperately searching for a new home after the Inter-Tri County League collapsed last year. Although the school did strike a deal to take part in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, the entry into the AAC will provide regular opponents and scheduling opportunities of a traditional league.

“Our athletic directors did an outstanding job of helping us to build a strong future,” Crestview Superintendent Matthew Manley said.

Crestview will be in the Blue Tier which is made up of Champion, Newton Falls, Campbell, Liberty, LaBrae, Ashtabula Edgewood and Brookfield.

“We’re happy because it will give each school seven league football games and 14 league basketball games,” King said.

The target date for Crestview to start playing in the league is winter 2018-19, but that is up in the air due to ongoing developments with AAC schools leaving for the North East Eight Athletic League, which will be composed of Girard, Niles, Poland, Ashtabula Jefferson, Struthers, Hubbard, South Range and Lakeview.

“It’s etched in stone that Crestview will start then, but if we can start earlier we will,” King said.

King said contractual battles are still ongoing with departing schools. King said those schools are looking to void some football game contracts and that remaining AAC schools want to hold them to it.

“I think they still owe us fall 2018,” King said.

Larger schools Austintown Fitch, Canfield, Howland, Boardman, Youngstown East and Warren Harding are still a part of the AAC in the Red Tier (Ashtabula Lakeside is pending), but King said they will remain separate from the Blue.

“There will not be any crossovers,” King said.

King will meet with Crestview athletic directors next week to start planning. He said a junior high program is offered in the AAC and that will be a part of the discussion.

Edgewood will be Crestview’s longest trip as the schools are an hour and 20 minutes apart (80 miles). Brookfield is 45 minutes away (38 miles), Campbell Memorial 30 minutes (20 miles), Liberty 35 minutes (29 miles), Newton Falls 45 minutes (35 miles), Champion 50 minutes (44 miles), LaBrae 45 minutes (40 miles) and Brookfield 45 minutes (39 miles).

Crestview will have dual membership with the OVAC which will allow the Rebels to enter into that organizations championships which include the highly-touted wrestling tournament.

“We are very blessed to have both leagues,” Manley said.

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Staff writer Deanne Johnson contributed to this report.