A familiar face to many Portage Trail Conference programs is now set to become a member school.
According to Rootstown athletic director Keith Waesch on Thursday evening, Lake Center Christian voted unanimously to accept an invitation to join the PTC for the 2015-16 school year.
For Waesch, extending an offer to Lake Center Christian made sense for a number of reasons, including the school's familiarity with many PTC programs.
"A lot of the schools in the southern portion of the PTC have been playing Lake Center Christian in non-league contests for the past decade," Waesch said. "We've built a nice relationship with Lake Center Christian, and we look forward to containing that now as they have become a member of the league."
The addition of Cloverleaf and Lake Center Christian will bring the PTC's number of member schools to 15 for the 2015-16 school year. Current Metro Division program Kent Roosevelt is expected to depart the PTC at the start of the 2015-16 academic year after accepting an invitation from the Suburban League late last year.
Waesch said that the PTC would ultimately like to return to the 16-member structure it had for most of its existence, but that the conference has no immediate plans to further expand. Also of note, the realignment of division schools is not set in stone, but the PTC is expected to have eight member schools in the Metro Division and seven in the County Division, Lake Center Christian included.
"There are some parameters that we are taking into consideration when it comes to the selection of schools, so we do not want to just add (any school)," Waesch said. "At this point in time, we are satisfied with moving on for the start of the 2015-16 season with 15 schools."
Lake Center Christian is a clear fit for the County Division, as the school's enrollment is smaller than any current PTC school. According to the most recent OHSAA enrollment figures, Lake Center Christian currently has 66 boys and 75 girls from grades 9-11. The next closest PTC school is Mogadore, which has 116 boys and 103 girls.
Waesch said that the addition of a small school like Lake Center Christian was something the PTC's current County Division programs had pushed for.
"We would like to see our athletes competing on a level playing field," Waesch said. "(The PTC's) smaller schools felt it was important to add a smaller program because we were starting to get a pretty big disparity between the top and bottom of the County Division."
One major note with the addition of Lake Center Christian is that the school currently does not field a football team. While the school's overall athletic offering compares to the average PTC program -- Lake Center Christian does not field wrestling or bowling programs -- the lack of a football team is notable for a conference looking to return to even numbers in two divisions.
Waesch said that football is something Lake Center Christian is looking into adding, but the school is not expected to field a team by the time it enters the PTC.
"We know that Lake Center Christian has acquired land across from its high school with the intention of adding a football team, but (that is not in the immediate future)," Waesch said. "(Football) is something they have been looking into for a few years."
Facebook: Colin Harris, Record-Courier