The Early Lead: Attempting to clear up the new football classes
By BRANDON HURLEY
Not only will the 2018 winter bring us completely new and revamped football districts, but we are also assured a re-classification with several, unknown teams moving down classes.
Who will make the move? We don’t know just yet. That answer is cloudy and won’t be concrete for a few months. The announcement will most likely coincide with re-districting in January or February, but we for sure can take a few stabs at predicting.
The re-classification, which was announced last week, decreases Class 4A by six teams, to 42 and drops the class size for 3A, 2A, and 1A by two each to 54.
So what does this mean for Greene County football?
Well, according to the 2016-17 enrollment numbers from the IHSAA, the Greene County football program is hovering on the cusp of 3A and 2A classification. This recent decision could ultimately mean the Rams drop down to 2A, if everything falls into place.
Class 3A will add six teams next fall but will have room for two less teams, meaning eight teams from last year’s 3A crop will drop down to Class 2A, trickling down the line for 1A and A, and so on.
Here are a few more numbers of note:
• Greene County played with a combined enrollment of 329 for the 2016-17 season.
• The Rams have a football sharing agreement with Paton-Churdan, which bumped up their total enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year by 42, from 287 to 329.
• The top two classes, 4A and 3A, will be made up of the 96 largest schools for the next two seasons.
• Class 3A was home to 56 teams last fall, but is dropping to 54
Iowa’s high school football districts are re-drawn every two years. For the past two seasons, Greene County has been smack dab in the middle of Class 3A district two but as the second smallest team, by one student. Not only was it one of the most competitive groupings in the state (two top 10 teams, a 2016 state runner-up), but also one of the largest.
Second-ranked and undefeated Dallas Center-Grimes’ enrollment was 593 - a mere 260 students more than Greene County. Boone isn’t much further down at 518 while Perry sits at 477. Ballard had 403 students enrolled ninth-11th grade for the 2016-17 year followed by Webster City at 400 and Gilbert at 337. The only district two squad smaller than Greene County’s dual enrollment was Iowa Falls-Alden, at 328. If you look at it, just three teams in the eight team district had an enrollment less than 400.
Enough of the chit-chat, let’s get down to what this really means. With the way the enrollment numbers panned out last year, Greene County’s football team was the 98th largest school, which would place them at the very top of Class 2A for the next two years, with a little bit of wiggle room.
Gilbert and Algona both had enrollments of 337, eight more than Greene County, they are tied for the 96th largest enrollments.
A trio of schools, Vinton-Shellsburg, North Polk and IF-A are just behind Greene County at 328 students. If any one of those schools added two students this year, it would improve the chances for Greene County to drop down to 2A.
With the new cut-offs, Osage would be the smallest 2A team next year with an enrollment of 229, which, after two years in 2A, South Central Calhoun would be back to 1A with a 2016-2017 enrollment of 209, placing them 151st.
So, whether you look at a drop to 2A as a step forward for a small 3A school or it disappoints you for what could be perceived as a drop in competition, there’s something to look forward to this cold and dreary winter.
I know this column is filled with numbers, math and school names, but the announcement the athletic association dropped off last week is an important one. I hope I made some sense of it for you.
Disclaimer: Remember, these are just my guesses and estimations, we will not know the actual reclassification until the IHSAA releases it officially some time this winter.