Two years after it made the jump to Class 11A in football, Sioux Falls Christian will be returning to 11B for the 2017 season.
The impending move comes as the result of a drop in the school’s Boys Only Average Daily Membership (ADM), which the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) uses in determining classifications. The enrollment data is acquired directly from the S.D. Department of Education for the purposes of determining class assignments across all sports.
This year’s numbers, which were taken from the first day of school through the first Friday of December, placed Sioux Falls Christian’s Boys Only ADM at 99.140, leaving it just short of the 100.00 ADM cutoff for Class 11A.
Sioux Falls Christian does not plan to petition to remain in 11A at the SDHSAA board meeting in January, meaning its move to 11B for the 2017 and 2018 seasons will become official after the March 1 board meeting.
While the Chargers are dropping down to 11B, Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central is moving up to 11B, joining the 11-man ranks after finishing runner-up in each of the last three seasons at 9AA.
“I knew we were probably close to the bubble, but never looked at it closely enough to get an exact idea,” SFC athletics director Jim Groen said. “We were planning on staying 11A, but the numbers are what the numbers are. So we’re just going to move forward at 11B and look forward to the next two years at that level.”
“To be honest with you, I was caught off guard,” coach Jake Pettengill said. “I wasn’t prepared for that because you look at our middle school numbers, the way we’re growing – we just have a couple classes that are very, very small.”
The transition, though slightly unexpected, is being viewed as a temporary one. With significantly larger classes coming through the elementary and middle schools, the Chargers figure to be 11A eligible when the SDHSAA re-examines its football classifications in 2019.
“At our middle school, we have about 90 kids per grade and in our high school, we have about 60 kids per grade,” Pettengill explained. “I keep telling people our school is getting larger and it’s going to get substantially larger in a few years… Our enrollment at Sioux Falls Christian right now is growing unbelievably.”
Both Pettengill and Groen are cognizant of the future, but their focus remains on competing at the new class level over the next two seasons. To that end, they’ve expressed a desire to the SDHSAA to play a schedule that reflects their new classification.
“There are some very good 11B teams and we’re looking forward to it,” Groen said. “We’ve had discussions at the state level about (scheduling), as I’m sure most schools do. Since we’re an 11B school, we’d prefer to stay predominantly an 11B schedule, even possibly we’d like to see us get a few out-of-region area schools. Maybe some West River schools mixed into our schedule.”
While Sioux Falls Christian will play out the next two years at 11B, SDHSAA assistant executive director John Krogstrand said Sioux Falls O’Gorman has already indicated that it will be petitioning to stay in 11AAA. OG’s Boys Only ADM is 294.185, which would normally place it in 11AA (225-399.999).
CHANGES TO SCHEDULING REQUIREMENTS
At their December meeting, the football advisory advanced a proposal out of committee that would alter the SDHSAA’s scheduling requirements.
If approved by the athletic directors and schools in March, teams would be required to play the majority of their games against teams within their own classification.
For 11-man teams, this would mean six of their nine games would have to be against teams from the same class, while 9-man teams would be required to play 4 of 8 at their own level.
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .
11-MAN CLASSIFICATION FORMULAS
Boys Only Average Daily Membership
11AAA: 400 ADM and above*
*-Incl. at least 8 largest schools
*-Incl. at least 8 schools