IHSAA Reclassifications Dramatically Alter Sectional Line-Ups
If Region football fans weren’t confused enough by the conference realignments this year, then the IHSAA tournament reclassifications will certainly do the job. Some schools have moved up, some have moved down and others will be forced to travel out of town.
The football classifications are evaluated by the IHSAA every two years (every four years for other sports) and schools are either moved up or down based on their enrollments. In theory, reclassification is a good idea because schools should compete with other schools of the same approximate size in the tournament, but in practical application the results are mixed because some schools have to travel outside of the area to play unfamiliar opponents in the sectionals, which are supposed to be local.
The sectional landscape has changed so radically this year that you can’t tell the players without a scorecard so here’s a look:
Sectional #1 has always been a powerhouse sectional and this year will be no exception. DAC schools Chesterton, Crown Point, Merrillville, Portage, Valparaiso, Lake Central and Michigan City return with Munster moving up from 4A to replace East Chicago Central as the sacrificial lamb. Sectional #2 consists of La Porte of the DAC, Elkhart Central, Elkhart Memorial, Mishawaka, Penn, South Bend Adams and South Bend Riley. Goshen moves over from Sectional #3 to complete the field, replacing South Bend Clay, which moved down to 4A.
Sectional #9 is where the changes really get interesting for the Region with four new teams in the sectional. Roosevelt drops down to 3A to provide one of the vacancies. EC Central drops down from 5A to join Griffith, Morton and Hammond High who all move up from 3A as newcomers. Lew Wallace, West Side, Highland and Hobart are the four holdovers making up the rest of the bracket. Lowell and Kankakee Valley were the unfortunates bumped to an out of town grouping in Sectional #10 with Concord, Logansport, Northridge, Plymouth, South Bend Clay and South Bend Washington.
Sectional #17 features three new teams as Morton, Hammond High and Griffith have departed for 4A. With Griffith’s departure, Andrean will have to find a new sectional rival among holdovers Calumet, Wirt, Gavit and Clark, or newcomers Roosevelt down from 3A, Knox up from 2A, or New Prairie, a 3A import from Sectional #19.
Sectional #25 features holdovers Bishop Noll, North Judson, North Newton, Rensselaer, Wheeler and Winamac. Gone are Guerin Catholic, dropped to 1A, and Knox, which moved up to 3A. Newcomers to the bracket are Seeger, a powerhouse up from 1A, and Delphi, an import from Sectional #30.
Sectional #33 is comprised of returnees Lake Station, River Forest, South Central and Whiting along with South Newton and Whiting nemeses West Central and LaVille. Triton is the lone newcomer, moving over from Sectional #34 to replace Culver Community, which moved out to Sectional #35.
Of all the changes in the sectionals affecting Northwest Indiana the biggest winner in the Region would appear to be Andrean and the biggest loser could be chosen from a pool that includes Munster, Morton, Hammond High, Lowell or Kankakee Valley. As you can tell, the system is far from perfect. But if you aren’t still thoroughly confused, then stick around for the regionals.