BOONE — The Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association approved alterations to classifications for the 2018 and 2019 season at their monthly meeting Wednesday.
Todd Tharp, assistant director and football administrator for the IHSAA, said the Board of Control was simply giving the go-ahead to recommendations made by the IHSAA’s Classification Committee in September.
Under the new regime, the top 42 schools, according to the 2017-18 BEDS document, will compete in Class 4A. The next 54 schools will be 3A, the next 54 2A, and the following 54 1A, with the remaining 11-player schools creating Class A. The board also raised the enrollment cap for teams wishing to participate in 8-Player from 115 to 120. There is no minimum enrollment requirement for 11-player football.
The changes will begin when redistricting is implemented early in 2018. Under the system now in place 48 schools were in 4A, with 56 in 3A, 2A and 1A.
The upshot is a tumbling of teams down the ladder of sizes, as the smallest six 4A schools now become the largest half-dozen in 3A. Classes 3A, 2A and 1A would thus pass off their six largest schools to the class below them, but also add two additional schools as they shrink from 56-54, turning the eight smallest 3A teams into the new eight biggest in 2A and on down the line.
Tharp said the decision was based upon the following six priorities advanced by the Classification Committee:
- Improve competitive balance. The potential for more non-district games allows schools to schedule similarly competitive opponents.
- Revitalize rivalry games. An opportunity to play more non-class and non-district games means traditional rivalries between schools and communities may stay on schedule.
- Reduce non-district travel. Close proximity can increase attendance for home teams and limit travel expenses for road teams and their fans.
- Potentially increase participation at all levels. More selective schedules may help slow the flow of underclassmen taking the field early in district contests, which can offer a safety and motivational benefit.
- Trim enrollment gap in Class 4A. Addresses the trend of the state’s largest schools continuing to grow at faster rates than other districts.
- Maintain six classes for at least two more years. Changes were made to classification structure, but five 11-player classes and one 8-Player class will exist for another redistricting cycle.
Tharp said he recognized the classification adjustments would necessitate an overview of playoff qualification, which had been planned to revert to the 32-team per class, top-four-per-district format discarded two years ago.
“There will be opportunities to evaluate the number of districts and teams in a district,” he said. “Obviously, with 54 teams (in 1A-3A) six-team districts will provide for a re-evaluation of the qualifying system and looking at other analytics to determine the qualification system.”
That determination was not made by either the board or committee. All such decisions will be made in conjunction with the Iowa Football Coaches Association executive board, the Iowa High School Athletic Directors Association and the IHSAA, with the final recommendations coming from the football advisory committee after the district football meetings are held.
Of all Perry-area schools, only Madrid will be affected, as the Tigers, sized No. 209 with a BEDS of 155, will drop from 1A to A. Perry (No. 62, 477) and ADM (No. 80, 384) remain firmly in the middle of 3A, with No. 183 Ogden (181), No. 189 Panorama (174) and No. 199 Woodward-Granger (165) far enough inside 1A not to drop. Woodward Academy, with a BEDS of 159 and No. 204 placing, would become the new smallest 1A.
The six 4A teams falling to 3A will be No. 43 Lewis Central (754), Clinton (749), Waterloo East (742), North Scott (711) Western Dubuque (708) and Newton (653). Mason City (809) becomes the new smallest 4A, with Norwalk (644) and DC-G (593), now 7-8 in size in 3A after being 1-2 for the past two years.
Gilbert (337) is the new smallest 3A, with Algona (337), Vinton-Shellsburg (328), North Polk (328), Iowa Falls-Alden (328), Atlantic (324), Saydel (312), Anamosa (318) and Clear Lake (316) secured in 2A.
South Hardin in the last team in 2A at 213, with South Central Calhoun (209), East Sac County (209), Clarinda (209), Western Christian (207), Burlington Notre Dame (207), Interstate-35 (207), Aplington-Parkersburg (207) and Underwood (207) all becoming 1A.
Denver (159), Durant (158), Mount Ayr (157), Sioux Central (156), Madrid (155), Earlham (155), North Linn (154) and West Fork (153) all become new Class A schools.
The changes would leave, as is currently the case, 59 schools in Class A, with Rockford (121) the smallest, as New London (120) could now opt for 8-Player, along with Akron-Westfield (119), Midland/Wyoming (118), Montezuma (117), GMG (117), Edgewood-Colesburg (117) and SE Warren (116).
Some schools, notably Gladbrook-Reinbeck (114), who has been dominant in A in recent seasons, have been playing 11-player, but have already declared their intention to switch to 8-Player.
The above figures and listings are based strictly on published BEDS numbers. Consolidations, sharing agreements and/or dissolving districts (as was the recent case of CMB splitting back into Collins-Maxwell and Baxter, as they once were) could change the status of some of the schools listed.