MARTINS?FERRY - A meeting of the Buckeye 8 principals and athletic directors has been called for Thursday morning in Martins Ferry and membership is expected to be a hot topic.
Several sources indicated to The Times Leader that Bellaire, which is the smallest school in the league, is exploring the possibility of leaving the league.
However, Bellaire Superintendent of Schools Tony Scott said during a phone interview late Monday afternoon that the talks were "rumors and innuendo."
Recently appointed Buckeye 8 President Matt Shepherd, who is the assistant principal at Indian Creek High School, dispatched an email early Monday afternoon to all eight athletic directors and principals, informing them that the meeting, which had been scheduled for Nov. 1 had been moved up to Thursday because of the accusations that Bellaire had been inquiring to other OVAC schools about the possibility of playing football in 2012 in Week 4.
That immediately threw up a red flag because the Buckeye 8 went to its new scheduling format this year with league games occupying the Week 4 through 10 slots.
"From my standpoint, we're not looking to do anything outside of the Buckeye 8 at this time," Scott said.
"We've been trying to find a game for week one and week three because those are our non-league schedule."
As word began to spread of Bellaire's inquiry, athletic directors and principals want to know just where the Big Reds' stand because since football is drawing to an end for many in a couple of weeks, thoughts on the 2012 schedule have already started.
"We're the smallest team in the Buckeye 8, but still no one wants to play us," Scott said. "We're having a heck of a time getting a non-league schedule. As far as Bellaire is concerned, the Buckeye 8 is the best thing we have going for us right now. Because, from a financial standpoint, we don't want to travel across the state to play a game."
Scott did leave the door open, however, by saying, "we'll probably find out by the end of football season what the future is going to be, but as far as I'm concerned, we're in the league."
Bellaire's enrollment has dropped each year and for the first time in school history, the Big Reds dropped to Division V in football. They're also only one of two member schools in OVAC Class 3A with Martins Ferry being the other.
Indian Creek is the biggest school in the league and resides in Class 5A. The balance of the league competes in Class 4A of the OVAC.
"Our enrollment is down, but in the competitiveness of the league, anyone can win on any given night," Scott said. "Right now, (the Buckeye 8) competitiveness is really good. On any given (Friday), someone different can win. I really think it's one of the most competitive leagues around and it's created a lot of interest, and for us to question that right now is not the time."
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