IHSAA to add 6th class in football
By Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or email@example.com June 22, 2012 8:12PM
Updated: July 24, 2012 9:53AM
In 2013, it will be as difficult as ever for Lake Central, Portage, Crown Point, Merrillville and Valparaiso to win a state championship in football.
But that ultimate goal just became a lot more realistic for Chesterton, Michigan City, LaPorte and Munster.
The IHSAA executive committee finally approved a sixth class in football on Friday, after years of discussion. Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, the current Class 5A will be split into two classes — the top 32 in enrollment will be Class 6A, the next 32 will be 5A.
The IHSAA also approved a “success factor” that will bump teams up a class in any team sport if they’re too dominant during a two-year cycle. This was commissioner Bobby Cox’s spin on a four-year “tradition factor” initially proposed by the Indiana Football Coaches Association.
The executive committee voted down the IFCA proposal 18-0, and voted for Cox’s version 16-2. The sixth class — part of both the IFCA’s and Cox’s plans — was approved by a 13-5 vote.
The committee rejected the IFCA’s plan to seed the sectionals by a 17-1 vote.
“We were expecting this, it’s something that’s been on the table a couple of years now,” said Valparaiso coach Dave Coyle, whose team will join Lake Central, Portage, Crown Point and Merrillville in the new 6A. “For us to get a state championship, this doesn’t change anything. We’ve always had to play the big schools to get as far as we did. And there are some monsters in there.”
In the current 5A, the largest school, Ben Davis (4,892) has more than triple the students of the smallest school, Fort Wayne Wayne (1,582), based on the most recent figures released by the IHSAA. In the new 6A, the smallest school will be Columbus North (2,034), while the biggest school in 5A will be New Albany (2,016).
Chesterton (1,986) suddenly becomes the second-biggest school in 5A. And now Munster (1,616) — the sixth-smallest school in 5A — will be competing against similarly sized schools.
“Would it be nice to be in 5A? Oh, yeah,” Coyle said. “But even there, take a look at who you’ve got — there are some great football programs.”
All Class 6A and 5A teams will be in four-team sectionals, with a bye week during the first week of the state tournament.
Lake Central, Crown Point, Merrillville and Portage likely will comprise one 6A sectional. That leaves Valparaiso as the odd team out. The Vikings likely will be in a sectional with Penn, Warsaw, and perhaps Lafayette Jefferson.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Coyle said. “Hey, they always say you have to beat the best to be the best. Well, now you’re really going to have to.”
The other big addition was the success factor. The success factor has a similar effect as a multiplier without blatantly targeting private schools, as it’s aimed at curbing the overwhelming dominance of certain schools. Teams in all sports will earn one point for a sectional championship, two for a regional, three for a semistate and four for a state title. If a team earns at least six points in one two-year cycle — the current one includes this past season, so the 2013-14 season will be affected — it will be bumped up a class for a two-year cycle.
To get six points, a team has to make two straight state final appearances, or win a state title and a regional title back-to-back. In football, that targets teams such as Lafayette Central Catholic, which has won three straight 1A state titles in laughably dominant fashion; and Bishop Luers, which has won the last three 2A titles.
“I got tired of hearing the public-private debate,” Cox told the Indianapolis Star. “In my opinion, that’s not the overriding factor. It’s about dealing with success and people wanting to have the fairest opportunity to compete.”
The IHSAA also announced the girls basketball state finals will return to Terre Haute next year.