Times are changing.

And change can be a good thing.

It looks like that will be the case for Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood high schools when it comes to athletics for the 2006-2007 school year.

All three area schools will be affected by the OSAA's new six-classification restructuring for the upcoming school year. The changes will be minor for Tigard and Tualatin, but they'll be good changes.

The Tigers and Timberwolves, formerly part of the Class 4A Pacific-9 Conference, will now be members of the leaner, meaner Class 6A Pacific Conference (the league was going to be know as the Pac West Conference, but another league, at the Class 3A level, had already taken that name).

The Pacific Conference is basically the Pac-9 without Dallas, Silverton and Woodburn, who are dropping down to the Class 5A level.

Dallas, Silverton and Woodburn all had their strengths. Silverton has a strong wrestling program, a strong girls basketball program and a tough-as-nails football team, and Woodburn is as strong as can be in boys soccer, but it wasn't really fair for those schools to have to compete with overall powerhouses such as Tigard, Tualatin and Canby.

And, it goes without saying, those trips to Silverton and Dallas, weren't exactly short and sweet.

The new Pacific Conference (which includes Tigard, Tualatin, Canby, Forest Grove, McMinnville and Newberg) should be extremely competitive in most every sport. This upcoming football season, every game will be a battle. It should be a lot of fun.

Sherwood, meanwhile, will be in for quite a change this upcoming school year.

The Bowmen, coming off a banner 2005-2006 school year competing in the Class 3A Tri-Valley League, will move up the Class 5A level as part of the new Northwest Oregon Conference.

Joining Sherwood in the new league will be rival Wilsonville, the four Hillsboro schools - Century, Glencoe, Hillsboro and Liberty - as well as Parkrose and St. Helens.

The Bowmen will go from being one of the biggest Class 3A schools, in terms of average daily attendance, to one of the smallest Class 5A schools.

But, knowing the competitive nature of the Sherwood coaches and athletes, it's a sure bet that they're looking forward to that challenge.

And it should be quite a challenge. While the Hillsboro schools, in some sports, have struggled recently in the Metro League, there is still a strong tradition of success in the area. Parkrose and St. Helens may be a bit unknown, but Sherwood knows what it's going to get every time it faces off with Wilsonville - that will be a spirited battle.

Yeah, it looks like change is going to be good.

Dan Brood is the sports editor at the Times.