By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — The nine schools of the newly formed Hoosier North Athletic Conference were introduced at a press conference Wednesday in Culver.
The HNAC is currently looking for a 10th school to add to current schools Caston, Culver, Knox, LaVille, North Judson, Pioneer, Triton and West Central and Winamac.
Pioneer athletic director and football coach Mike Johnson said the new conference is looking for a 10th school and hopes to have one by the middle of next month.
“Probably if we don’t get one by mid November we’ll go with nine at least with for a couple of years,” he said. “We’ve got to get our football schedules ready.”
The HNAC will begin competition in the 2015-16 school year.
The conference is considering going to division play in football but would need a 10th school to do so, Johnson said.
“If we don’t get 10 we’ll play eight conference games and one non-conference,” he said.
Johnson added he’s not sure how divisions would work but that they could rotate every three years or so to change things up.
As for a possible 10th school, Johnson said, “We have some prospects but nothing is sure at all. Nothing we want to say.”
The Pioneer administrator said the HNAC has a bylaw that it will be no bigger than a 10-school conference.
Caston, Pioneer and Winamac are breaking away from the Midwest Conference after longtime affiliations.
Johnson said the HNAC will provide the schools with better competition athletically.
“I think we went into it with no intent for a new conference,” he said. “We got a phone call from Culver saying they were interested in discussing a new conference. I thought for sure it’d be rejected by our conference but thought it wouldn’t hurt to talk but that no way would we leave. The more we talked we thought it might work out and it might be better. It has nothing to do with travel. The competition of the schools is really enticing. It’s better from top to bottom in all of our sports.”
Winamac sophomore girls basketball player Ali Larkin thought up the name for the new conference.
“Each school brought in suggestions from students and faculty and we voted on it,” Johnson said. “Like [Winamac AD] Bill Ball said, when Ali is older she can tell her children and grandchildren that she named this conference.”
MWC holds summit
Two weeks ago the four remaining Midwest Conference schools gathered members of two other conferences for an informal discussion about several topics, including the league’s expansion.
Frontier, North White, South Newton and Tri-County remain MWC schools after the departure of four others to the newly created HNAC.
The remaining four schools invited nine others from the Hoosier and Hoosier Heartland conferences to discuss several topics involving high school sports. According to Frontier athletic director Greg Martz, those issues included travel distances and game attendance.
Benton Central, Delphi, Rensselaer and Twin Lakes from the Hoosier Conference and Carroll, Clinton Central, Clinton Prairie, Sheridan and Tri-Central from the Hoosier Heartland were represented at the meeting.
“We feel like no matter what happens, other schools will be affected by this,” said Martz, who has acted as spokesperson for the MWC schools, to the Lafayette Journal & Courier. “It’s good to get everybody in a room who would potentially be affected by that, because that never happened for the schools that left us. Let’s bring everybody together to talk about the issues.”
Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.