Central moves to 4A in FB class shuffle

The landscape of Colorado high school football is changing.

It’s not close to the seemingly constant change of NCAA Division I college football, but the look of Colorado football conferences will be different the next two school years.

Most of the changes are taking place on the Front Range, but there are some on the Western Slope after the CHSAA Football Committee on Monday approved several proposals.

Central will remain in the Southwestern Conference but will move down to Class 4A with Montrose and Durango after Central’s enrollment dropped to 1,579 students this fall. The Class 5A enrollment range is 1,610 and up. Class 4A is 1,050-1,609.

“Our numbers have been down for a couple years,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “It’s hard for us to match up with (5A teams). We haven’t been very big size-wise and we’re not going to be huge the next couple years.

“We’re trying to come up with a schedule now. We’ll probably stay with Palisade and try to get 4A teams (for the rest of the nonconference schedule).”

Fruita Monument (1,734) and Grand Junction (1,762) will remain in Class 5A, but will have a minimum of three games against Class 4A opponents on their schedules, playing in a 4A/5A conference.

Mesa County School District 51 Athletic Director Paul Cain introduced a proposal at the meeting Tuesday to try to help the Southwestern Conference teams secure games during the conference season.

The SWC is the only conference in the two biggest classifications with an odd number of teams (5), so each week during the conference schedule, one team will have an open date. With a full nine-game schedule, SWC teams play five nonconference games, one more than in conference.

Montezuma-Cortez is back in the Class 3A Western Slope Conference for football after playing in the Class 2A Mountain Conference the past two years. The Panthers will give the Western Slope Conference nine schools.

At one time, it appeared Moffat County would move down to 2A for football, but met the minimum to remain in 3A with 600 students. The Class 3A enrollment range is from 600-1,049.

Palisade is the largest school in the conference with 1,013 students, only 37 shy of moving up to 4A. Cain said if Palisade’s enrollment goes above 1,049 students in the next cycle (after the 2013-14 school year), it would likely move into the Southwestern Conference.

Olathe and Gunnison will remain in the 2A Western Slope Conference with Aspen, Basalt, Coal Ridge and Grand Valley.

Enrollment at Cedaredge and Roaring Fork decreased, so the two schools will drop down to the Class 1A Western Slope Conference. They will be replaced by Bayfield and Pagosa Springs, which move from the 2A Mountain Conference. That conference was eliminated with two schools moving down a classification.

“I’m glad we’re staying (in the Western Slope Conference),” Olathe coach Ryan Corn said. “Bayfield and Pagosa Springs are two top-notch teams. If anything, that will only strengthen the Western Slope. It could be huge for the playoffs.”

Cedaredge and Roaring Fork will play conference games against Hotchkiss, Lake County, Meeker and Paonia.

Hayden and Rangely were in that conference, but their enrollment numbers dropped below the cut-off of 135 for Class 1A 11-man. They will move down to 8-man football and play in the Central Division with Soroco, South Park and Vail Christian.

Plateau Valley will remain in the Class A 8-man Western Division with Dove Creek, Mancos, Norwood and Nucla.


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