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OSAA line divides rivals

PrepFocus: 6A Franklin and 5A Cleveland face different futures
by:  L.E. BASKOW, Cleveland’s David Morales (right) attempts to keep the ball from Eric Alverez of Franklin in the Warriors’ 2-1 win last week. Cleveland is playing in class 5A with Franklin in the larger 6A.

Cleveland and Franklin, rival schools less than two miles apart, are more alike than not, athletically. But now there is one big difference -Cleveland is in Class 5A, and Franklin is at 6A, the top level.

Suddenly, Cleveland is capable of going to state in almost every sport. The Warriors figure to win far more league titles than any of their Portland Interscholastic League 5A competitors, especially in girls sports.

'It's brought a lot of excitement to our school,' Athletic Director Mike Shanahan says. 'All our teams feel they can get into the playoffs now, and we've got a ton of kids participating, more than ever before.'

The Quakers, on the other hand, seemingly hard-pressed to win very often in certain sports, will have a hard time finishing above .500 in several sports and are not likely to challenge for a league title more than occasionally.

'It's hurt us immensely,' Athletic Director Scott Santangelo says.

On top of that, as they prepare for their now-nonleague football game Friday at Franklin, Cleveland has surpassed Franklin enrollment and perhaps has enough students to qualify for 6A.

When the PIL divided its schools into five-team leagues, Franklin and Benson each had 1,457 students, which put them behind Grant (1,802) and Wilson (1,489) and into the 6A league that also includes Lincoln (1,428).

Cleveland, based on the 2004-05 enrollment figures used at the time, had 1,274 students. The Warriors went to the 5A league, which also has smallerschools Madison, Marshall, Roosevelt and Jefferson.

Final figures from 2005-06 will be available soon, but the shift in enrollments was evident as early as October 2005, when Cleveland reported 1,449 students to Franklin's 1,404. And preliminary numbers for the current school year show a continuing swing, with Cleveland climbing above 1,500 and Franklin slipping below 1,400.

Class 6A is for schools at 1,521 and above, plus smaller schools such as Jesuit that petition to play 'up' at that level. Shanahan says Cleveland, with a large freshman class, is 'camping on the outside of 1,521.' Santangelo says a Cleveland administrator told him at the Aug. 31 PIL football jamboree that the school would be at 1,570.

'We're 1,300-something,' Santangelo says. Class 5A is for schools with 851 to 1,520 students.

'When we voted to play up (at the highest level),' Santangelo says, 'the delegate assembly (of the Oregon School Activities Association) was talking about five classifications and a cutoff at about 1,400. And the district capped our incoming transfers.'

Greg Ross, PIL athletic director, says all 10 schools agreed on the current setup for two years.

'The overall mood here is that we should be 5A and make that switch with Cleveland,' Santangelo says. 'If trends continue and our enrollment shrinks, we will do everything we can to play down.'

But an OSAA official says the organization probably wouldn't approve such a change being made until the 2010-11 school year, even if Cleveland's student body exceeds 1,521.

'When schools said they wanted to play up (at 6A), they committed for the four-year time block, so they can't change their mind and say they want to go down,' says Mike Wallmark, OSAA assistant executive director. The PIL could ask the OSAA to flip-flop Cleveland and Franklin, 'but I've been working here for 20 years; and no request like that has ever been granted.'