The recent seismic shift of conference realignment throughout Northwest Missouri had an impact on the Grand River Conference, the Highway 275 and the Platte Valley Conference.
Now, the Midland Empire Conference and the Suburban Conference look to be the next in line for changes.
Smithville has started the process of a possible move from the MEC to the Suburban Conference for the 2018-19 school year.
The Smithville Herald recently reported that Darren Shaffer, the school’s activities director, discussed getting the ball rolling during the January school board meeting. Since then, the school has sent a letter of interest to the Suburban Conference, which is looking to expand again.
The last change in conference affiliation for the MEC came following the 2007-2008 school year when Bishop LeBlond replaced Platte County, which joined the Suburban Conference.
Now, Smithville will have a chance to join its former rival in a conference again. The Warriors’ basketball teams competed in the same district this past year as Kearney and Platte County, both schools off the Highway 92 corridor between the towns.
Smithville’s baseball team is playing nine Suburban Conference schools, while the girls soccer team will see seven this spring.
“That’s why I think the Suburban makes sense, just from a size aspect of it,” Smithville assistant superintendent Wayne Krueger said to The Smithville Herald. “And I think it makes sense because it helps foster some of those geographic rivalries.
“... I think it makes sense that we pursue this.”
Smithville, with 815 students — in the latest MSHSAA enrollment numbers posted — is the third-largest school in the MEC, trailing only Lafayette (833) and Benton (827).
Smithville would be joining the Suburban Conference with Grain Valley, which has 1,021 students.
Currently a member of the Missouri River Valley Conference, the school east of Blue Springs announced Friday it had been accepted into the conference after submitting a letter of interest. The Suburban Conference doesn’t extend offers, rather reviews those submissions for entrance.
Grain Valley Activities Director Mike Tarrants told The Examiner he expects Grain Valley to be placed in the Suburban Blue with Kearney, Raytown South, Belton, Platte County, Winnetonka and Grandview.
Assignments to each of the Suburban Conference’s four divisions — Gold, White, Blue and Red — is determined by enrollment. The Blue is the smallest of the quartet and Smithville would be smallest by several hundred in that group.
Grain Valley is the next smallest, while Platte County is at 1,061 and Raytown South at 1,153.
“There’s going to be growing pains,” Shaffer told The Smithville Herald. “We’re going to be the smallest school in the Suburban probably by over 100 kids. But really, we compete with all of them now, and hold our own with them, if not beat them.
“As far as I’m concerned, let’s go.”
Smithville’s formal acceptance into the Suburban hasn’t been confirmed.
That leaves the MEC in wait-and-see mode.
Benton activities director Mike Ziesel said it is too soon to make too many plans without knowing if Smithville will make its long-rumored move official.
The MEC size, with schools from Class 2 to Class 4, gives some leeway to add another team into the fold if Smithville leaves, as expected.
“If we want someone, we will send them a letter of interest and if they are interested, we will check with our own people,” Ziesel said of the command chain that goes from activities directors to principals and then school superintendents.
There are only four founding members of the MEC still in the conference — Lafayette, Benton, Savannah and Maryville.