A quick look at new football classifications

By: Matt Gilmore, Kpreps Editor
Sep 29, 2013

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On Friday, the Kansas State High School Activities Association released football classifications for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Remember, football classifications are released for two-year cycles and are based on enrollment of students in the 9th, 10th, and 11th grade for the KSHSAA member schools. The enrollment figures were obtained as of September 20, 2013.

While several notable programs will change classifications, the most significant change will occur with the split of Class 4A from 64 schools into a Division I and Division II composed of 32 schools each.

By the numbers, Division I looks significantly stronger than Division II, although each division has five state champions going back the past 10 seasons.  Since the beginning of the 2004 season, 21 teams which make up the top division of 4A have posted a record of .500 or better compared to just 13 teams in Division II.  However, those numbers may be the result of the larger 4A schools beating the smaller ones.

Looking a little deeper, 14 teams in Division I have posted a winning percentage greater than .600, while only four teams in Division II have reached that same level. 

The top division will be strengthened by the addition of former 5A contenders Andover Central, Hays, and Bishop Miege, which all will move down to 4A Division I.  Bishop Miege was the Class 5A runner-up a year ago and is currently ranked in 5A. Hays was also ranked in Class 5A until last week and has enjoyed an impressive turned around under coach Ryan Cornelsen, and Andover Central has reached the state playoffs in each of the past 11 seasons.

Holton and Andale headline the Division II class.  Those two schools have accounted for five state championships in Class 4A in the past 10 years (Holton 3, Andale, 2). 

The following is a list of the top 10 schools by winning percentage (since beginning of 2004 season) in the newly formed 4A, Division II

  1. Holton                                 104-12, .897
  2. Andale                                  95-18, .841
  3. Holcomb                               59-34, .634
  4. Columbus                             60-36, .625
  5. Perry-Lecompton                55-38, .591
  6. Girard                                    52-38, .578
  7. Burlington                             53-40, .570
  8. Smoky Valley                       50-38, .568
  9. Hugoton                                48-42, .533
  10. Pratt                                       48-44, .522

Class 6A will gain a traditional football power next cycle while losing another strong program. The Blue Valley Tigers will return to Class 6A for the first time since the 2008 and 2009 seasons.  The Tigers reached the 6A state semifinals in each of their prior two years in 6A, losing to eventual champions Olathe North in 2009 (16-14) and 6A runners-up Lawrence Free State (14-7) in 2008. Blue Valley posted a combined 15-9 record in those two seasons as a 6A school. 

Joining the Tigers in 6A will be Kansas City Harmon and the up-and-coming Wichita West Pioneers who are 3-1 this season.

Wichita Heights will compete in Class 5A the next two seasons after an outstanding run in 6A.  The Falcons have posted an 81-22 (.794) record since the beginning of the 2004 season. During that time, Heights made seven playoff appearances and reached the 6A title game three consecutive seasons (2009-11) culminating in the 2010 6A crown.

Joining Wichita Heights the move from 6A to 5A is Maize and Leavenworth, while Bonner Springs, St. James Academy, and Maize South join 5A from the 4A level.

Among the new teams to Class 3A are Cheney, Hesston, and Wichita Collegiate all down from 4A.  In addition, Class 2-1A power Centralia, which co-ops with Wetmore for football, will be 3A in football the next two years.  The Panthers enrollment number of 117 equals that of Hillsboro, St. Mary’s Colgan, and Wabaunsee.  Hillsboro and Colgan will remain in Class 3A joined by Centralia, while Wabaunsee stays in Class 2-1A.  Enrollment ties are decided based on the school’s previous classification count.  Northeast-Arma, Jayhawk-Linn, McLouth, Sterling, and Washington County will also make the jump from Class 2-1A to 3A next season.

Class 2-1A will get some new contenders with Phillipsburg, Sacred Heart, and Sedgwick joining the classification next fall. Those three schools’ successes over the past several years will immediately move them into the top 10 in the classification based on winning percentage and likely make them favorites for deep playoff runs. Joining them in the move from Class 3A are Mission Valley, Marion, Moundridge, and Whitewater-Remington.

Class 2-1A will also see a rare occasion of a team rejoining the 11-man ranks from 8-man.  The Yates Center Wildcats will be back in Class 2-1A after spending the past four seasons in 8-Man, Division I.  Hopefully this is a trend that will continue.  Schools with a football enrollment under 100 students are awarded the choice to play 11-man or 8-man football.  Based on the enrollment figures released for 2014-15, 19 of the 40 schools in Class 2-1A were eligible to play 8-Man football but chose to remain in the 11-man ranks.

New to the 8-man division next season will be Ellinwood, Oberlin-Decatur County, and St. Francis which all move down from Class 2-1A. Other notable 8-man changes include traditional powers Hanover and Waverly will make the move up to Division I from Division II.  In addition, contenders Hoxie, Pretty Prairie, and South Haven will move down to Division II next season.


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