Miami East senior Vincent Villella (middle) ran for three touchdowns. Miami East defeated visiting Bethel 52-28 in a Week 5 high school football game in 2018. The CCC teams will jump to the Three Rivers Conference in the fall of 2021. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Three Rivers Conference to make its debut in 2021

The Three Rivers Conference, made up of eight area teams from four different and current affiliations, will begin its new alliance in the fall of 2021.

That was the consensus agreed upon last Wednesday by officials from Bethel, Covington and Miami East, currently of the Cross County Conference, Milton-Union and Northridge of the Southwestern Buckeye League, Lehman Catholic and DeGraff Riverside of the Northwest Central Conference and Troy Christian of the Metro Buckeye Conference.

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The TRC is a nod to the Great Miami, Stillwater and Mad rivers, at least one of which is in close proximity to every school.

“This is going to be a tremendous league,” said former Covington athletic director Roger Craft, who will serve as the TRC commissioner. “We’re not going to look out the rear-view mirror; we’re going to continue to look forward.”

The formation of the TRC is the latest in a series of significant conference changes that have affected most area schools and restructured long-time affiliations. It also was the result of 10 current CCC schools - Ansonia, Arcanum, Bradford, Franklin Monroe, Mississinawa Valley, National Trail, Newton, Tri-County North, Tri-Village and Twin Valley South – announcing in February their intention to start a new league.

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Other area conference changes include a split of the Greater Western Ohio Conference, which will lose 10 American Conference teams that will revise the Miami Valley League this fall. Lebanon will leave the GWOC to join the Eastern Cincinnati Conference in 2020 and Trotwood-Madison has not been invited to remain in the GWOC after the 2019-20 school year.

Covington reportedly was asked to join the other CCC schools in leaving, but instead aligned with Bethel and Miami East. Still unaccounted for out of the CCC is Fort Loramie, which played football and golf only and all other sports in the Shelby County Athletic League.

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The exit of Milton-Union and Northridge is the first SWBL change since Franklin and Monroe joined in 2006. The NWCC is comprised of teams from six neighboring counties and has had at least six membership changes since 2010. MBC member Troy Christian is independent in football.

The Central Buckeye and Ohio Heritage conferences also have undergone significant recent changes in membership.

“The (school) dynamics change,” Craft said. “Some of the schools are getting larger and some are getting smaller. Change happens and it happens for a reason. Whatever those reasons are, good, bad or otherwise, we’re not dwelling on why it’s happening. It’s all happening for the best for the kids.”

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The TRC will play a double-round robin in conference games for most sports, including junior highs. The football teams will have three open dates to fill and will play seven conference games. Five of the TRC teams are located in Miami County.

Several of the TRC teams had prior affiliations in the Southwestern Rivers Conference, which ended in 2001, and even the Stillwater Valley League that split in 1951. There also is a 10-member Three Rivers Athletic Conference in Northeast Ohio.

Craft said an eight-team conference “is a perfect size,” for football. He also didn’t rule out further expansion.

“We’d never say never to growing,” he said.

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