The recent WHSAA football reclassification proposal — the one with the addition of six-man tied into several changes to the number of schools in each classification — has me thinking about how the conferences would be aligned in those new leagues.Of course, power ratings will not be used to determine playoff seeding after this season, so conference alignment will a little bit more important for football teams this time around than it was two years ago.
For more about the proposal, click here. It’s the second half of the story.
Of course, these are nothing but the musings of one man. And it’s no guarantee that this proposal will even pass (despite the fact that it probably will).
Class 4A: 10 teams
Class 4A will have to find a new split somehow. Right now, with 11 teams, the split is five in the North and six in the South. The team dropping down would most likely be Riverton, which leaves a 6-4 split. That means one of the South teams will have to go to the North.
My first guess is that the Cheyenne schools will be split, with one of the Cheyenne schools playing in the North and one in the South. This wouldn’t be unprecedented — I think a similar split existed in the early-to-mid 1990s. Barring that, Laramie could go North, but I think it’s more likely that one of the Cheyenne schools will go. I’ll say Central. I don’t know why.
My projected 4A North: Gillette, Sheridan, Kelly Walsh, Natrona County, Cheyenne Central.
My projected 4A South: Cheyenne East, Laramie, Rock Springs, Green River, Evanston.
Class 3A: 12 teams
Decades of tradition dictate that 3A will be split East-West. But right now, that means a 5-7 split, with five in the East and seven in the West. That means one of the West teams will have to go East. The most obvious candidates are Riverton and Lander — and as weird as it seems to split up two schools that are less than a half-hour apart, that’s the most likely solution. Based on current alignments, I’d say Lander might be the first choice, but don’t be so sure. Lander has fought moving to the East, and with Riverton dropping down, they might more easily assimilate into the East anyway. It would also help create some more balance — most of the bigger 3A schools are in the West, and if the biggest went East, that might help.
My projected 3A East: Douglas, Rawlins, Wheatland, Torrington, Buffalo, Riverton.
My projected 3A West: Jackson, Worland, Star Valley, Powell, Lander, Cody.
Class 2A: 16 teams
Class 2A won’t have enough teams to go to four divisions, and three divisions makes no sense logistically for deciding playoff qualifiers — especially without power ratings. So East-West it is, even if it’s really ugly, and even if the conference schedule will take up about every week of the season. (Note — 2A would actually be 15 teams, as Wyoming Indian will likely opt down).
My projected 2A East: Newcastle, Moorcroft, Big Horn, Tongue River, Glenrock, Burns, Wright.
My projected 2A West: Thermopolis, Lovell, Greybull, Big Piney, Kemmerer, Lyman, Pinedale, Mountain View.
(By the way, three divisions of five teams apiece could make a lot of sense…. and the only thing I think hanging it up is playoff logistics. How about this: Big Piney, Kemmerer, Lyman, Pinedale and Mountain View in the “West”, Thermopolis, Lovell, Greybull, Big Horn and Tongue River in the “North” and Newcastle, Moorcroft, Glenrock, Burns and Wright in the “East”? I think it works, but trying to get eight teams from three conferences is a pain in the butt without power ratings).
Class 1A, in two divisions: Everyone else
Class 1A-11 man figures to have about 17 teams, by my count. That’s enough for four conferences, with the top two from each advancing to the playoffs. Of course, this is ALL guesswork right now. I have no concrete figures on which schools would play 11-man and which would play six-man.
My projected 1A-11 Northeast: Sundance, Normative Services, Upton, Hulett.
My projected 1A-11 Southeast: Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Lingle, Southeast.
My projected 1A-11 Northwest: Rocky Mountain, Riverside, Burlington, Shoshoni.
My projected 1A-11 Southwest: Wind River, Dubois, Saratoga, Cokeville, Wyoming Indian (with WI likely opting down from 2A).
Class 1A-six-man figures to have about seven or eight teams in its first season. My guess is an East-West split.
My projected 1A-6 East: Guernsey, Midwest, Kaycee, Rock River.
My projected 1A-6 West: Fort Washakie, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep, Hanna.
Contingency: If either Snake River or Farson get their ducks in a row in time, either school would go into the West. If they both happen to put teams together in time, they’d both move to the West, and Hanna would likely move to the East so there would be five teams in each division. Of course, a lot of this is still guesswork. There are so many things left to consider — chief among them is whether or not this proposal even passes the WHSAA board of directors.When and if it does, then the next question is where and how the enrollment numbers stack up (I used the most recent ADM numbers to compile these conferences). Green River, Riverton and Star Valley are all very close together…. and that could end up being sticky if the numbers don’t fall exactly as planned with Green River tenth, Riverton 11th and Star Valley 12th. And the entire structure of 1A is extremely dependent on schools with start-up programs, which is always questionable until the first kickoff of the first game.
Then there is the question of the WHSAA board itself. They often see angles the rest of us don’t — often for the better.
But I like to muse on this stuff. So here it is.