Middle school sports leagues merge

POULSBO — A merger between two middle-school sports leagues will offer more competition starting fall 2014.

The West Sound Middle Schools League and Olympic Junior High League will become one. The league will include 13 schools.

The league will have small- and large-school divisions, north and south.

Though there will be divisions, teams in the league will have the opportunity to play teams throughout the league. For example, Klahowya may not want to play South Kitsap Junior High, but teams in the north end might want to play a larger school.

“Absolutely we want competition,” said Patrick Olsen, the North Kitsap School District’s athletic director. “It’s the only thing that gets you better.”

What teams play where also depends on which schools have the same sports. Kingston and Poulsbo middle school students will have eight sports to choose from in seventh- and eighth-grade.

The league merger also helps the teams have a more full schedule, Olsen said.

The expanded league falls in line with the North Kitsap School District’s addition of middle-school cross country and JV football. The North Kitsap School Board approved the 2014-15 athletics and activities program offerings, which included the additional sports.

According to district documents, each cross country team will have one coach. The football programs will have one head coach, and three assistant coaches.

It could be a big change for the football programs. Before adding JV teams, the middle-school programs would play a fifth quarter to allow about 20-25 students who didn’t play a chance to participate, Olsen said. A fifth quarter meant about 20 plays of offense and defense.

The middle school league will consist of: Klahowya, Poulsbo, Kingston, McMurray (Vashon), Mountain View (Bremerton), Hawkins (North Mason), Woodward (Bainbridge), two teams from Curtis (University Place), Cedar Heights (South Kitsap), Marcus Whitman (South Kitsap), Sedgwick (South Kitsap), Fairview (Central Kitsap), and Ridgetop (Central Kitsap).

Though the middle school league saw growth through a merger, the high school league is seeing more of a split.

Starting in fall 2014, the Olympic League will have seven 2A teams and four 1A teams. Klahowya was moved to 1A because of reclassification by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Joining Port Townsend and Klahowya will be Coupeville and Chimacum, two new schools in the league.

There are 64 high schools in Washington with an enrollment of 225 to 471.9 that fit in the 1A classification until 2016.

Bremerton, Kingston, North Kitsap, North Mason, Olympic, Port Angeles, and Sequim remain in 2A until 2016.

Starting in fall 2014 separate standings will be kept for 1A and 2A. Until the change, Port Townsend was playing against the 2A schools, and then competing in a separate postseason.

Though it didn’t happen, a debate over whether Bainbridge High School should compete against 2A schools occurred late in 2013. The school ultimately decided to remain in 3A, despite being reclassified in 2A.


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