One of the most popular cliché's used by coaches in any sport is the 'competitive balance' in a league.
Or the fact that 'you have to be ready to play on any given night in this league.'
However, when it comes to the Sandusky Bay Conference in boys basketball, the eight coaches in the conference have the facts to back up such cliché's.
In the past 10 seasons in the SBC, all eight teams have won the conference title. Furthermore, the past five champions have been a different school each year winning the crown outright.
"A lot of it is the quality of coaching in the SBC," Margaretta coach Troy Roth said. "Each school has quality coaching and in basketball you really just need the five kids.
"It's not like football where you need more players to win a title. The excuse of being one of the smaller schools in our conference doesn't matter."
Knowing he had facts to back it up, Port Clinton coach Troy Diels jumped in head-first with the 'coach talk.'
"It just speaks to the balance that we have in the conference," Diels said. "The talent seems to be spread out from year to year, and I just think that margin for error is very slim.
"If you don't come to play on a given night, you'll find yourself looking up at someone else. It makes that much more important to be on top of the game each night, and it's a solid group of guys who have it prepared to go at it."
And while history says you can expect a different conference champion after the Redskins finished with a perfect regular season a year ago, Edison coach Chris Ceccoli indicated this season could be as up in the air as any.
"I just cannot remember going into a season where there is so much balance," he said. "I think you could easily make a case for four or five teams that feel like they can win the conference. I can't ever remember seeing that in any league."
Roth knows a lot of people, whether he likes it or not, are looking in the Polar Bears direction as the possible SBC champion come February. The Bears were picked a close second in the coaches preseason poll to Perkins.
"A lot of that I think is it feels like Devin (Jones) has been playing for eight years since he's been on varsity for four years," Roth said. "They see him coming back and they see a second-team SBC player in Craig Galindo coming back and see two very good players.'
"But after that, we're still pretty young with two sophomores and juniors in the starting lineup. I'm kind of surprised we were picked so high, but we do have experience at key spots."
Meanwhile, the Redskins have hit the reset button and are starting over after last year's historic Division II state runner-up team that finished 26-1 with a loss to Dayton Dunbar in the championship game.
"As with any coach, you are a teacher first, so you go back to the finer points of the game," Diels said about returning four senior letterwinners. "The last couple years we were fortunate to jump ahead with a few things from the start, but this year we've spent more time teaching."
The Redskins top returner -- three-year letterwinner Derek Colston (Sr., 8.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.2 apg) -- has been slowed by a foot injury and may miss some time. Diels said Colston has been practicing, but isn't quite back to full strength.
While the SBC has been great from a competitive standpoint amongst the eight teams, several coaches are also quick to admit as a whole the conference has been a bit down in recent years.
"The last few years top-to-bottom, it hasn't been that strong," Roth said. "There seems to be one or two teams that do great and the rest of us are mediocre, and that includes us.
"I think the bottom of the pack has gotten a lot better, but I won't argue with fact we've been down a few years. That's fact with the lack of teams in the districts. I think it will be better as a whole top-to-bottom, but the lack of success in the tournament is glaring."