CP, LC, Merrillville to Class 6A
By Mark Smith msmith@post-tribune June 26, 2012 1:56PM
Crown Point's Tristan Peterson holds off Penn's Zachary Hiss in the second quarter Friday night at Penn High School in Mishawaka. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
IHSAA FOOTBALL Changes
as of 2013-2014 school year
Moving from 5A to new class 6A
LAKE CENTRAL (3,225)
CROWN POINT (2,532)
To remain at 5A
Chesterton (1,986 students)
Michigan City (1,909)
To remain at4A
East Chicago (1,575 students)
Updated: June 26, 2012 1:56PM
CROWN POINT — The best news from the Indiana High School Athletic Association last week was the expansion of the annual football playoffs from five to six classes.
But there is another change that may have missed the point of the problem it was supposed to solve.
First, the good news. As of next fall (2013), Indiana’s high school football playoffs will now be broken into six groups, including a class 6A for the 32 largest schools in the state.
The change, which moves Crown Point, Merrillville and Lake Central into Class 6A, eliminates some basic unfairness in the football playoffs. Formerly, a school like Carmel, with 4,300 students, was in the same class as Chesterton (1,800 teens) and Munster (1,600 teenagers).
Football is a game of numbers. If you can chose your 100 boys from a pool of 4,300, you will almost always have a better team than a school with 1,800.
Crown Point, with about 2,500 students, is always going to be in the highest class and still is at a distadvantage against Penn (3,300), Warren Central (3,900) or Ben Davis (4,892 students).
But Munster (1,600), presently a 5A school, will be in a 5A class which is fair to them. If we went to six classes this season (it won’t be until 2013) New Albany (2,016 students) would be the largest 5A school.
The IHSAA struggles with fairness issues and it should. Prep sports must have a semblance of fairness or there’s no reason for them to be part of the educational menu.
Class 5A will also have 32 teams and both 5A and 6A will have just a five week playoff. Classes 1-4 will have 64 teams and will play six weeks of playoffs.
While the smaller schools will have to win six games to win the state title under this new format, they won’t have to defeat the size of schools that exist, especially in 6A.
The change is a gift from heaven for the teams that will be 5A but will have no effect on smaller football programs.
Lowell is a Class 4A school and with the new Class 5A being limited to 32 teams (that number will grow as more charter schools seep into the 1A and 2A classes) Lowell is destined to be a 4A school in football for many years to come.
Even though the IHSAA Executive Committe vote to adopt a sixth class was only 13-5, Class 6A was inevitable. The five who voted against the proposal must have been making some type of protest vote because if you only play one game a week (and that’s all the IHSAA allows), you can only have a six week tournment in five classes if you have fewer than 320 (64 times 5) schools.
Last year, there were 313 football playing schools and more (like Hanover Central in 2015) are many coming as charter schools open. Class 6A was coming whether anybody liked it or not.
The best thing about the new 5A and 6A structure is that those two classes will be idle in week 10.
The empty Friday will allow some injuries to heal up and a side benefit will be that the big schoool boys can watch small school games in person. Many high school football players never see a post-season game in person while they are in school.
The IHSAA rejected seeding the sectionals by a vote of 17-1. Seeding is pairing team according to regular season record, best versus worst.
Most fans and media wanted that change so the team with the worst rating would face the team with the best rating in the quarterfinals of the seectional.
As it stands now, two 0-10 teams can still meet in the sectional quarterfinals as can two 10-0 teams.
Coaches want it that way largely because it bails out their team if they have a bad season. It actually isn’t fair to teams that play well, but the IHSAA Executive Committee wasn’t concerned with that, voting out that proposal almost unanimously.
The second IHSSA change approved, by a vote of 16-2, is a “performance factor.”
This change will apply to all team sports (football, baseball, soccer, volleyball and basketball).
Schools currently are put into a class solely on the enrollment of the school. This vote adds a complicated point system, awarding points for wins in the previous two post-seasons. If you accumulate too many points in a two-year span, you will be required to move up one class.
For example. Andrean has been the semistate champion in softball the last two years. Semistate titles are worth three points. If this “performance factor” had been in effect the last two years, Andrean, a Class 3A school, would be required to play in the 4A playoffs the next two seasons.
The problem with that proposal is that Andrean’s all-state pitcher, Nikki Steinbach (25-2, 0.47 ERA, 304 strikeouts), just graduated. The team that would move up a class (the rule is not in effect yet) would not be the team that won the two semistates.
The IHSAA and the Indiana Football Coaches Association were clearly afraid to address the real issue, which is private and charter schools, which can take eighth graders from anywhere, giving them a significant edge over public schools, which can only take non-paying students from their district.
Lafayette Catholic, a 1A school, has won four consecutive Class 1A baseball state titles, largely because they are playing tiny rural or small neighborhood schools which simply can’t match them in talent. There is a certain amount of excellence spawning excellence there.
Charter schools like Bowman Academy are the coming problem in the arena of fairness. A charter school has an unfair edge because it can recruit students from public school disticts and admit them for free.
Taxpayers of players in public school are paying for other people’s kids to go to charter school because charters, unlike private schools, operate on public funds.
But instead of addressing that problem, the IHSAA, using a proposal written by Bobby Cox, treated charter and public schools equally.
Consider this. Bowman Academy (charter) and Bishop Noll (private) are in the same 2A sectional. If Bowman has a great freshman clas and wants to win state as juniors and seniors, they need to lose to Noll at the sectional when the “great freshmen” are freshmen. That menas zero points.
That team has guaranted it will stay 2A for the next three years.
If the great freshmen win the semistate as freshmen and sophomores, they will move up to 3A, greatly handcuffing their chances to win state as juniors and seniors.
This change does not address the problem of private and charter school domination.