Its only been eight days since teams around the state were allowed to start practicing for the fall season, but in just two more several of those squads will be suiting up for games.
Assuming they took Sunday off, thats just 10 days to prepare for their first live action a woefully short period that could lead to many sloppy September contests.
Unlike in recent years, however, those outcomes wont matter much when it comes time to dole out playoff berths.
At-large bids have been all but eliminated below Class 6A and league finish is once again the primary factor in earning a playoff berth.
That doesnt mean the rankings are going away, though, and a couple of classifications (4A, 3A) will still use them to fill one or two remaining slots in their final bracket. Theyll also be used to seed teams that qualified based on their league finish.
The first football games wont be played in the area until Sept. 5 (the OSAA requires three weeks of practice prior to the first game for football only), but the Pilot Rock and Mac-Hi volleyball squads arent wasting any time and will square off in Milton-Freewater on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Here are five more things to know as the high school season prepares to kick off:
Several teams will face a new path to the postseason this year, but the most profound change comes at the 2A level.
The Blue Mountain Conference is no more, and has been split into the Columbia Basin Conference and Wapiti League in all sports.
Culver joins the former BMC teams east of the Blues to form the CBC while Burns and Imbler have combined forces with the teams to the west to create a pair of six-team leagues. Both new leagues will send their top two football teams to state, but that could still change.
Work in progress
Four playoff spots in Class 2A football have yet to be allocated, a process that will be completed on Sept. 8. Each of the classifications six leagues is beginning with two playoff berths. Of those six, the five-team Northwest League and Tri-River Conference seem unlikely to earn a third berth while the seven-team Mountain View Conference would appear to be a prime candidate for an additional bid. It could also come down to a system like Class 4A, which awards its two at-large bids to the highest ranked teams not already in.
All Class 3A/2A/1A boys and girls soccer playoff berth allocations also will be determined at the Sept. 8 meeting.
New look in 5A football
There wont be a rematch of 2013s thrilling 21-20 overtime state final as both participants in that game, champion West Albany and runner-up Sherwood, have moved up to Class 6A. Two other 5A playoff teams have moved up with them, but Class 4A champion Ridgeview has also risen one classification. The playoff field also has been cut to 16 teams and the play-in round has been eliminated.
Fresh faces in Old Oregon
While the areas Class 2A teams were freed of an obligation to travel over Cabbage Hill for league games this year, three 1A teams will be making the trip on a much more regular basis. Helix and Echo both exit the Big Sky League in volleyball and join the newly formed Nixyaawii netters in completing the Old Oregon League along with Joseph, Powder Valley, Pine Eagle and Wallowa.
Echo football also gets a new home in a consolidated 1A football scene.
Striking out alone
Unlike the conference shifts experienced by other local teams this season, the Echo football squad will be entering the new Special District 1 without any of its familiar rivals in tow. The Cougars will compete in the north half of the 12-team district along with Wallowa, Powder Valley, Joseph, Pine Eagle and Crane. Their longstanding rivalry game against Ione, which remains grouped with the east-central Oregon schools in Special District 4, remains on the schedule but moves from the last week of the season to the second.