More on Aberdeen’s move to 2A GSHL

For years we’ve been saying how the Class 2A Greater St. Helens struggles in football against the 2A Evergreen Conference.

That thought was officially validated on Thursday.

Next fall, Aberdeen will join the 2A GSHL for football only, the league announced Thursday.

The move gives the 2A GSHL six members in football in 2012: Hockinson, Ridgefield, Washougal, Mark Morris, R.A. Long and Aberdeen.

It leaves the 2A Evergreen Conference also with six teams: River Ridge of Lacey, Capital of Olympia, Black Hills of Tumwater, Tumwater, Centralia and W.F. West of Chehalis.

But the even six-six split was not the primary reason for Aberdeen to move into a league in which its closest rival will be almost 100 miles away.

The move was motivated by player safety.

“We had 22 season-ending injuries (last) year in football,” Aberdeen athletic director Ken Ashlock told the Longview Daily News. “We had seven ambulance trips. … Our league is very clean. Nobody cheap-shots. We’re just in a down cycle, and the league up here is really tough. I couldn’t see how we were going to build a program if we’re carting kids off in ambulances.”

Aberdeen has gone winless in the 2A Evergreen Conference each of the past two seasons, finishing 2-17 overall. The Bobcats have not had a winning season since 2007.

Since the inception of the 2A GSHL in 2006, 2A GSHL teams are 4-14 in 2A district cross-over playoffs with the 2A Evergreen Conference. Of those 14 losses, 10 were by 27 points or more. Last season Hockinson lost to W.F. West 34-7 and Woodland lost to North Thurston 41-0.

The main reason for the 2A GSHL’s playoff struggles boils down to numbers. As a general rule, the schools in the 2A Evergreen Conference are larger in enrollment than 2A GSHL schools. And in football, numbers are pivotal to success.

In the 2A Evergreen Conference, Aberdeen was the fourth-largest school in the seven-team league. In the 2A GSHL, Aberdeen will be the second-largest behind Mark Morris.

Not coincidently, Mark Morris is 3-0 in 2A district playoff games. The rest of the 2A GSHL is 1-14.

Woodland had been one of the smallest 2A schools in the state. Next fall, Woodland will drop down to the 1A classification. The Beavers will be replaced by Ridgefield, which will return to the 2A GSHL after two years at Class 1A. Hockinson has enrollment numbers of a 1A school, but will opt-up to play at 2A.

Adding to Aberdeen’s decision were the changes coming to the 2A Evergreen Conference. North Thurston will be moving out and be replaced by Capital of Olympia, which reached the 3A state quarterfinals in football last fall.

So why would the 2A GSHL be opening to adding a school to the league that for most of its members is more than 100 miles away?

Well, for one, it makes scheduling easier. With a six-team league, it means that teams can dedicate Week 1-4 for non-league games and Weeks 5-9 for league games. There would be no need for one team to have a league bye as would be the case if the league had an odd-numbered amount of teams. Also, with the 1A Trico League set to be a nine-team league, non-league scheduling will be more difficult next fall for 2A GSHL teams.

Secondly, it gives 2A GSHL teams a better chance to make the playoffs.

In the previous 7/5 split of teams in the 2A Evergreen Conference and 2A GSHL, only two 2A GSHL made the district playoffs, with the 2A GSHL No. 1 team playing the Evergreen No. 3 and the 2A GSHL No. 2 team playing the Evergreen No. 2. In that set-up, the Evergreen champion earned an automatic berth to state.

In a 6/6 split, we can assume that the top three teams in each league will face off for the district three berths to the state tournament.

Ashlock told The Olympian that his school was deciding between two options: playing in the 2A GSHL or playing as an independent in football. He said the school plans to return to the 2A Evergreen Conference in the WIAA’s next reclassification cycle beginning the 2014-15 school year.

2A GSHL in football playoffs

How 2A GSHL football teams have fared in 2A district playoffs since 2006:


Hoquiam 39, Hockinson 12
Tumwater 54, Washougal 13
WF West 21, Woodland 7


Centralia 49, Hockinson 14
Tumwater 52, Washougal 15
WF West 20, Woodland 14


Black Hills 41, Hockinson 14
Mark Morris 23, WF West 14
Centralia 34, RA Long 21
Tumwater 67, Woodland 13


WF West 43, Hockinson 2
Mark Morris 55, River Ridge 13
RA Long 16, Tumwater 14
Black Hills 42, Woodland 7


Mark Morris 20, Centralia 18
WF West 12, RA Long 10


WF West 34, Hockinson 7
North Thurston 41, Woodland 0

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