Oak Hall football withdraws from district play

Published: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.

Oak Hall athletic director Jeff Malloy said Friday the Eagles will go independent the next two years in football instead of moving up to Class 3A, District 2, which the Florida High School Athletics Association had placed them in when the tentative football assignments were released Dec. 20.

Malloy was clearly not happy with the news that Ocala Trinity Catholic, a perennial power in football over the years, would also be in District 2-3A.

“We will play an independent schedule and focus on winning conference championships in the North Florida Football Conference,” Malloy said. “This conference was created two years ago in an effort to give like-minded schools like Oak Hall some competitive equity in the sport of football since it could not be provided by the FHSAA classification system.

“I want to make it clear that we are not running from competition. In every district we have ever played in, we have had stiff competition whether it be Hawthorne High School, (Jacksonville) University Christian, or (Jacksonville) Eagle's View. The difference is these are all schools our size.”

The FHSAA moved up Oak Hall and St. Francis from Class 2A (urban) to 3A (student enrollment 228-636) in District 2, along with P.K. Yonge, Daytona Beach Father Lopez and Trinity Catholic. The Blue Wave had been independent in football the last two seasons.

“Schools now have the potential to exceed our size by 159 percent, and that is not fair and more importantly not safe,” Malloy said. “This was the best decision for our student-athletes.”

In comparing the school enrollment, Trinity Catholic has 501 students while Oak Hall has 246 and St. Francis the lowest in the proposed district at 241. P.K. Yonge's enrollment is 469.

St. Francis athletic director and football coach Matt Olesnevich said his school is still in discussions about what to do. St. Augustine St. Joseph, which played with Oak Hall and St. Francis in District 2-2A the last two years, is also going independent, dropping from the 3A district the FHSAA assigned it.

“We are weighing all our options,” Olesnevich said. “With St. Joe pulling out, they are going to have to redistrict, and we may wait to see what happens. We will still play Oak Hall regardless.”

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