Canby High School football will move from the 6A classification to 5A for the next two seasons, beginning in 2020, the Canby School District announced Tuesday. OSAA offered the program the option to play down in the 5A division after the team’s winning record was under 22 percent for the past two years (0-9 in 2018, and 2-7 this year).
“While Canby High School is certainly excited and energized by the improved performance of the football team during the 2019-20 season, the district decided that this opportunity will allow the program to continue to grow,” the district said in its statement. “Participation has declined over the past few years; yet the new energy the program has is now generating increased interest and community support. The program expects the move to 5A will continue that momentum.”
In a community meeting to discuss the possible move last month, coaches and administrators explained how CHS enrollment has shrunk in recent years, as has its participation in youth and high school football.
Part of the problem, they believe, is the brutal Three Rivers League Canby was part of in the 6A classification. The TRL was home to three of the top five teams in the state this year, including Lake Oswego, which is playing Central Catholic for title on Saturday.
It turns out that a not-insignificant percentage of Canby high schoolers may not want to spend their fall seasons having the snot kicked out of them by the likes of Tigard and West Linn.
In 5A, Canby will be much more likely to be competing in a league with schools whose enrollment and demographics more closely match ours.
The reclassification to 5A will only affect football. It’s not known at this point what league Canby will play in, though coaches and administrators think it likely we’ll share a league with 5A powerhouse Wilsonville.
OSAA will release a schedule of opponents in February, and it is possible Canby High School will play 6A teams during non-conference games. The move may bring additional travel time and expense for Canby, and OSAA will take those factors into account when setting the schedule.
“The Canby High School Football community, athletic department, and district consulted with coaches, players, and the community to reach this decision,” the district said. “The overall feedback supported the move to 5A for the next two years.”
The main concerns involved travel and college recruitment — both of which were addressed at length during the community meeting. The district also said that head football coach Jimmy Joyce, who has been working to rebuild the program since his hire in April, supports this move and thinks it will benefit the players and the community.
“As a coaching staff, we are just excited to get back to work, writing this next chapter,” Coach Joyce told the Canby Now Podcast. We have to work harder now. We won’t be able to sneak up on anybody, and moral victories will no longer suffice.
“Our goal isn’t to win, it’s our expectation.”
The move to 5A will remain in effect for the next two seasons, after which, OSAA plans to revisit the team’s classification.