Central FB to drop to 3A, Palisade stays put
Central and Palisade will both be playing Class 3A football next season.
That’s the official and soon-to-be official word from the Colorado High School Activities Association.
The Classification and League Organizing Committee meeting Tuesday and Wednesday made a number of decisions that will be implemented for the 2014-16 school years, but most of the football decisions will not be made until the CHSAA football committee meets Dec. 5.
Palisade Athletic Director Mike Krueger, who also serves as the chairman of the football committee, said Palisade’s official enrollment had put them over the Class 3A limit, but School District 51 filed an exemption request at the CLOC meeting.
The exemption was made on behalf of Palisade and Central, because both schools have a special-education program for students 18 to 21 years old. Since those students are not eligible for athletics, that lowered the enrollment number and put Palisade back under the official Class 3A football limit, which is 1,049 students.
“We don’t have to count the kids in that program in our official count,” Krueger said.
The CLOC accepted the exemption, and Krueger said that will keep Palisade in Class 3A for football.
“It’s very likely that Palisade will remain in Class 3A Western Slope Conference football,” he said.
Krueger added CHSAA’s acceptance of the enrollment exemption makes Palisade’s 3A status for football nearly official, but he reiterated the decision won’t be official until the Dec. 5 football committee meeting.
After two winless seasons, Central had filed a “play-down” petition to allow the Warriors to move from 4A to 3A. The CLOC accepted the petition, and Central will now play in the Class 3A Western Slope Conference. The petition is for two years but can be re-evaluated if the Warriors continue to struggle on the football field.
The CLOC play-down criteria for football is for teams that have win-loss percentage of 25 percent or less over a four-year period, which is about 10 wins or fewer over four years.
Central is 5-35 during the past four seasons, including winless campaigns the past two seasons.
Head coach Shawn Marsh said the move will give his program the chance to improve.
“There were a lot of factors that go into making this decision. The number-one thing is what is going to be best for our students and student-athletes at Central,” he said.
Being able to play smaller schools with his junior varsity and freshman teams is where the rebuilding begins, Marsh said. He said rebuilding a program takes time, and winning is part of high school athletics.
“We have an awesome group of kids, but it doesn’t change a thing. We didn’t win a game, and we do keep score, and it is important to win,” he said.
Football is the only Central sport that will play at the 3A level.
Coronado High School, which is 10-1 and defeated Rifle 34-31 in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs is currently playing down from 4A.
Krueger said a number of things will be evaluated at the Dec. 5 meeting, and deciding conference alignments will be one.
The Western Slope Conference in football will have a much different look next year.
Besides Central coming into the WSC, two teams are definitely moving out, and a third soon may be gone, too.
Moffat County will go to Class 2A because of its drop in enrollment, and Montezuma-Cortez petitioned to play down at the Class 2A level, and it was accepted by the CLOC on Wednesday.
Right now, next year’s WSC will have Palisade, Central, Rifle, Glenwood Springs, Delta, Steamboat Springs and Eagle Valley.
Battle Mountain did not meet the play-down criteria, but there’s a chance the football committee will allow the Huskies to move to the Class 2A football level at the Dec. 5 meeting. Battle Mountain has not won a game in two years but had a nine-win season in 2011.
The other possibility that will be discussed Dec. 5 is moving Summit into the 3A WSC for football.
Krueger said the decision to keep Palisade in the 3A WSC is good for the traditions and rivalries that have been established over the years.
“Can you imagine a football season without a Rifle-Palisade game?” he asked.
This season, the 28-27 comeback win by Palisade over Rifle was one of the best games of the year.
Other Western Slope teams impacted by the CLOC decisions include Grand Valley football moving down to Class 1A because of an enrollment drop, and Roaring Fork football moving up to 2A because of an enrollment increase.
The boys and girls soccer teams for Rifle will move down a classification for the 2014-16 seasons. The school petitioned to play down after several subpar seasons. The move will mean that Rifle football and soccer teams will play at the 3A level while remaining at the 4A level in all other sports.
Football classifications and enrollment requirements are different than other sports because there are more classifications for football.
The other local school impacted by the CLOC was Caprock Academy. The charter school in Grand Junction was officially accepted as a CHSAA member.
That means Caprock likely will begin fielding athletic teams in the future.