Jeffersonville will be playing a farewell football tour this season.
The Red Devils are not planning to drop the sport. But they will, thanks to the Indiana High School Athletic Association, be competing in their final Class 5-A sectional in October.
Jeffersonville will bumped up into the new Class 6-A “superclass” in 2013. The IHSAA, following a proposal by the Indiana Football Coaches Association, approved the addition of a sixth class in June. The Executive Committee voted 13-5 to adopt the class but rejected by a 17-1 count the IFCA proposal to seed the sectionals.
Class 6-A will include the 32 schools with the largest enrollments, which means Jeffersonville (28th in the latest IHSAA figures with 2,108 students in four grades) will jump to the highest level.
“I don’t like it at all,” Jeffersonville coach Lonnie Oldham said of the new setup. “It doesn’t make sense. And being at the bottom of the barrel, we’re not anywhere near ready for that yet.”
The change comes with inherent problems and unresolved issues.
What does Jeffersonville do about its schedule? The Devils currently play no other teams that will compete in 6-A. The nine-game regular season includes seven built-in Hoosier Hills Conference opponents, and the two optional games are currently Providence (a local rivalry) and Louisville Eastern.
The nearest teams that will also move into 6-A would include Columbus North, Terre Haute North or an Indianapolis-area team. Otherwise, the Red Devils will start the 6-A tournament without having played any comparable competition.
Do the Red Devils remain in the HHC? The new 6-A only affects football, so leaving the conference for the sake of one sport is unlikely, but that possibility has been voiced aloud.
What happens to the sectional? The new class would break up the current Sectional 8 that features area rivals Jeffersonville, New Albany and Floyd Central, plus Bedford North Lawrence, Castle, Evansville North and Jennings County. All those teams will remain in 5-A.
“Those are natural rivalries that are getting split up,” Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing said.
To create the new class, the current 5-A will be divided in two. Those two classes will have a bye week for the first round of the state tournament (and a loss of revenue) while the lower classes play the first round of their sectionals.
Another question remains unanswered. The IHSAA is considering splitting 5-A and 6-A into four eight-team sectionals, instead of eight four-team sectionals as originally planned. The four eight-team sectionals would allow for more revenue for schools at the sectional level.
The enrollments and classifications should be announced in December. Actual sectional assignments will be released in April.
And what about New Albany, the school currently on the enrollment bubble?
If the figures remain the same during the next two-year cycle, New Albany (2,016) will become the largest 5-A school and Columbus North (2,034) will be the smallest in 6-A.
Ben Davis, Carmel and Warren Central, three Indianapolis-area schools with the largest enrollments in the state, have combined to win 17 of the 27 5-A titles since that class was created in 1985. Putting those teams in the “superclass” will open the door for a wide-open 5-A tournament.
The IHSAA, noting the dominance of private schools in the lower classes, also approved the creation of a “success factor” system to bump schools into a higher class in all team sports. The committee followed a proposal written by commissioner Bobby Cox.
Schools will earn one point for a sectional championship, two for a regional title, three for a semistate title and four for a state crown. Any program earning six or more points during a two-year period would be bumped up one class for the next two seasons.