I’m getting really good at sketching out school locations and playing “what if?”
That’s because the Indiana High School Athletic Association recently announced new classifications for football, volleyball and soccer.
For football, Eastside jumps back to 2A after a two-year period in the Class A ranks.
That means the Blazers will no longer be grouped in a sectional field that includes Adams Central, Churubusco, South Adams and Southwood, the team that eliminated Eastside the past two seasons.
It also likely means Eastside will be reunited with Woodlan and Bishop Luers.
While somebody somewhere gets paid to make decisions on what schools are grouped together for sectionals, I’ve taken to pen and paper, marking where schools are located and what sectional groupings make sense — at least to me.
I will say the IHSAA does a darn good job of grouping schools together for sectionals. It’s at the regional level and where teams have to go to play a regional — often all the way across the state as opposed to a more geographic quadrant location — that I have issues.
For most sports, Indiana is split into halves with eight sectional groupings per class.
Football is the only sport with six classes. Volleyball, softball, baseball and boys and girls basketball each have four classes, and soccer has three.
In classes A through 4A for football, most sectionals have eight schools, while in classes 5A and 6A, where only two rounds occur, there are four teams per sectional.
Getting back to the purpose of this column, based purely on geography and movement of schools from 3A to 2A or from A to 2A, I would expect the new football sectional grouping to look something like this: Bishop Luers, Bluffton, Central Noble, Eastside, Fairfield, Prairie Heights, Whitko and Woodlan.
There are alternate scenarios, however.
Fairfield could move to another grouping to the west and Bluffton could move to another grouping further south. If those were to happen, Manchester and Wabash take their places with Eastside and the others.
In my opinion, though, Fairfield isn’t likely to go west because there are already eight 2A schools in the northwest quadrant (roughly west of U.S. 31 and approximately north of U.S. 30) — Andrean, Boone Grove, Bowman Academy, Bremen, LaVille, Rensselaer, Wheeler and Whiting.
A ninth school, Hammond Noll is also in that region, but didn’t play football in 2018 and won’t field a varsity team in 2019 because of low numbers. If Hammond Noll comes back before the next classification, sectional assignments will have to be redone.
Largely west of U.S. 31 but south of U.S. 30 are Cass, Delphi, Lapel, Pioneer, Rochester, Seeger and Tipton. Roughly east of U.S. 31 and north of U.S. 40, you have these 2A schools: Alexandria, Blackford, Eastbrook, Eastern (Greentown), Frankton, Manchester, Wabash, Winchester and Union County. That would be one grouping of seven schools and another of nine, so some shuffling is likely to occur.
The IHSAA will make the official announcement of the new football sectionals in May.
There will be at least two changes in the volleyball sectional field with Blackhawk dropping to single A and Woodlan moving up to Class 3A. Blackford and Fairfield both dropped from Class 3A to 2A. Fairfield will likely end up with Bremen, Central Noble, LaVille, Prairie Heights, Whitko and Westview in a grouping.
Should that happen, I can see the volleyball sectional — and likely the basketball sectionals — being Adams Central, Bluffton, Canterbury, Churubusco, Eastside and South Adams. It would be what the boys and girls basketball groupings were the past two seasons.
Another possibility is Eastside and Churubusco ending up with Central Noble, Fairfield, Prairie Heights and Westview and maybe Whitko.
It all depends on where the IHSAA draws the lines. It’s been explained to me the IHSAA starts in the northwest corner of the state and works east, compiling groups of six to seven schools of similar size and geography.
I don’t expect major changes to the soccer sectional field. Bethany Christian, Central Noble, Eastside, Prairie Heights and Westview were in last year’s field and all remain single A schools in that sport.
New enrollment classifications for boys and girls basketball will be announced later this month, and softball and baseball will be announced once the state tournament series in those sports have been completed.
The IHSAA has the classifcations posted on its website, ihsaa.org. A school map can also be found on that site if you want to make your own sketches.