Enrollment increase may push Palisade football up to Class 4A
Is Palisade High School football heading to the Class 4A ranks?
It’s a question that has local football fans and observers buzzing.
Right now there’s only one thing that is a certainty: The answer will come after Dec. 5.
The decision will be made by the Colorado High School Activities Association and specifically its football committee.
School District 51 Athletic Director Paul Cain said the decision will be based on Palisade’s enrollment numbers, which will become official on Oct. 1.
“Right now, Palisade’s enrollment is pushing 1,100 students,” Cain said Thursday. “The cap is 1,049, and if the enrollment after Oct. 1 is over that number, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be playing in the Class 4A Southwestern League.”
Cain, who serves on CHSAA’s football committee, said the enrollment numbers for setting football classes is different than other sports because there are seven football classifications.
He also said the football committee could consider conference alignments when making the decision to move a team up or down a classification, but he added he’s never seen that happen before.
Palisade High School Athletic Director Mike Krueger sent an email Thursday after CHSAA’s Ryan Casey referred to the possible classification shift for Palisade and other schools via Twitter on Thursday morning.
“As you can imagine, a move in classification will most likely create some anxiety within our school and community, and it is important that we communicate correct information,” Krueger wrote in the email to school and school district officials as well as media. “I think some inaccurate information has already been shared, and I want to answer any questions you might have and also give you the correct information so that you can have it available.”
Krueger explained how CHSAA makes its decisions and that Palisade gave the organization its current enrollment numbers.
“As of September 19th ... Palisade High School has reported to the state that we may have enrollment figures that will affect our classification placement in football,” he wrote. “If enrollment numbers dictate a move up, it will only affect football ... we will remain in the enrollment range for Class 4A in all other sports and activities ... the same classification we have been operating in. (We are currently 3A in football and 4A in all other sports and activities).”
Krueger made it clear the school did not request to move up to the Class 4A level, and it would prefer to remain in the Class 3A Western Slope League.
“Palisade High School did not petition to play up to Class 4A ... any move up will be dictated by enrollment increases,” he wrote. “We are not desiring a move to Class 4A ... but we will obviously abide by state classification placement based on our enrollment.”
Every two years CHSAA evaluates enrollment numbers to determine whether schools should move up or down in classifications. The decision is usually discussed and debated among school officials as to the fairness or lack thereof as it pertains to the competitive playing field.
CHSAA’s Classification and League Organizing Committee makes those decisions and will meet Nov. 12 to give final approval for the 2014-16 school years for all sports besides football.
The football committee then will meet Dec. 5 to hammer out decisions on the classification alignments for football programs.
There were a few interesting items on CHSAA’s list of possible moves, including Silver Creek moving to Class 4A. The Longmont school is the Class 3A defending state football champion and is currently ranked No. 1.
Silver Creek lost to Windsor in the 2011 state title game, and the next year Windsor moved to Class 4A.
Three Class 3A Western Slope Conference football teams — Moffat County, Montezuma-Cortez and Battle Mountain — could move to Class 2A next year.
Cain said Moffat County’s enrollment numbers have dropped below the Class 3A range, and Montezuma-Cortez and Battle Mountain have made “play down” requests because of their poor win-loss records over the past two years.
Grand Valley could make a shift from 2A to 1A in football.
Go to chsaanow.com to see the entire list of possible changes from CHSAA.
This football season, the Southwestern Conference is made up of two 5A schools — Grand Junction and Fruita Monument — and three 4A schools — Central, Montrose and Durango.
The Class 3A football Western Slope Conference is made up of Palisade, Rifle, Delta, Glenwood Springs, Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain, Steamboat Springs, Montezuma-Cortez and Moffat County.