The Warsaw Wildcats will be leaving the Tri-County Conference at the end of the 2018 school year, SoBoCo Activities Director Pat Lacy confirmed last week.

The Wildcats will be forming a new conference – the Ozark Highlands Conference – along with school districts in southwest Missouri to begin play in the 2018-19 school year.

Lacy said he was not surprised by the move.

“It’s just a long haul for Warsaw to travel to many of the schools in our conference,” Lacy said. “They have a shrinking enrollment and that makes it tougher for them to compete in the Tri-County.”

Lacy will be amonth the six other remaining Tri-County Activities Directors who will be discussing the future of the conference in a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Lacy said they had already talked with a number of school that might make a good fit with the other Tri-County schools and that the conference might grow by either one or three schools.

“If we don’t add another school, it would be a scheduling nightmare for the rest of the Tri-County schools,” Lacy said.

Lacy emphasized that the Tri-County Conference’s bylaws dictate that any new school have a football program and that new conference members had to be approved by a vote of superintendents.

According to a report in Wednesday’s Buffalo Reflex, the Dallas County School Board approved the formation of the Ozark Highlands Conference for its Buffalo High School.

The founding charter members of the new conference are: Buffalo, Butler, Cole Camp (football only), El Dorado Springs, Sherwood and Warsaw.

While Lacy would not officially say what schools the Tri-County Conference would be looking at, there are a number of potential candidates. Lacy said there are potential Class 2 and Class 3 (football) programs. We have four Class 3 schools (Southern Boone, Blair Oaks, Osage and Eldon) and three remaining Class 2 schools (California, Hallsville and Versailles) and we will consider Class 3 and Class 2 football schools.”

School classification is determined by MSHSAA and different for different sports (SoBoCo competes in Class 2 in soccer, Class 3 in football, Class 4 in baseball) depending upon the number of schools participating across the state.