Change has been a constant with local high school sports leagues for much of the last two decades.

In an environment of constant switching, megaleagues and not much inter-school loyalty, the Suburban League has been a model of stability.

The Suburban League has been around since 1949.

Throughout its entire life, the league has been a one-division conference.

Since 1984 when Wadsworth first joined, it has been an eight-team league.

Most of its members have been in the league for decades.

All that, however, is about to change dramatically.

I believe that is a very good thing -- and not just from a coverage standpoint.

The league will begin life as two-conference, 15-team powerhouse this fall.

The new-look Suburban League encompasses not only the seven largest schools in Record Publishing Co.'s weekly division area, but also the Record-Courier's largest in Kent Roosevelt.

There's something to say about being able to have all the big schools under one roof.

Besides that, although the new members may seem far flung, the conference is fairly compact -- especially when compared to the now-defunct Northeast Ohio Conference.

All the members are either in or adjacent to Summit County. What's more, all of Summit's Division I level public schools outside of Akron now are in the one league -- except Green.

That last sentence is a bit ironic. Green's desire to move to the Federal League was the first domino that ended with the Suburban League doubling in size.

The backbones of the new conferences are clear: Route 91 to the east, Route 82 to the north and Route 21 to the west.

All that isn't what has me excited about the new conference, however.

What's got me excited is the fact the Suburban League will have state-caliber programs in virtually every sport.

Take a look at the big school National Conference: Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Nordonia, North Royalton, Stow-Munroe Falls, Twinsburg and Wadsworth.

Winning a division title in any sport while competing against this lot should be viewed as the equivalent of a district title.

In fall, volleyball, soccer in both genders and cross country will be complete gauntlets. There's plenty of strength in golf, too.

And then there's football.

Consider this: The National Division will contain two state final four contenders from 2014 (Nordonia and Hudson) two other playoff teams from 2014 (Brecksville and Wadsworth) and two others who made the playoffs since 2012 (Stow and Royalton).

I think "The Imperial March" from Star Wars would be a good anthem for National Conference football. It's that strong.

Let's not even get into how much fun wrestling and girls basketball should be.

Baseball? Are you kidding me? The National Conference may the toughest public-school division in the state.

Taking a look at the smaller-school American Conference, there's not a huge drop in quality: Aurora, Barberton, Copley, Kent Roosevelt, Medina Highland, Revere and Tallmadge.

Soccer, particularly on the boys side, will be fun to watch. There's a lot of strength here in golf as well.

As for football, there's power here at the Division II-III level. Aurora, Roosevelt, Tallmadge, Copley and Highland all have winning traditions on the gridiron.

I tend to think Aurora might be the favorite, but only because I have tendency never to bet against Bob Mihalik-coached teams.

Of course, there are going to be struggles for the new-look league.

After the two-division format was established, Cloverleaf bolted for the Portage Trail Conference. Competitiveness still counts for a lot when it comes to league switching.

I wish the league could have decided on bringing in a 16th member before play commenced. Bedford, Canal Fulton Northwest, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Maple Heights were all considered, but none earned the 12 votes from current members needed to join.

No matter what the issues, here's hoping this version of the Suburban League endures as well as its one-tier predecessor.

Stability may be rare in high school leagues, but it remains very important.


Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC