When it comes to high school classifications, the times they are a-changin? for four area schools.
With the announcement last Wednesday of the Kansas High School Activi?ties Associa?tion?s enrollment counts, fans of Hills?boro, Marion, Goessel and Centre activities will need to get used to new nomenclature?at least for some activities.
Hillsboro, a longtime participant in the 3A classification, will drop to 2A for all activities except football, where it will continue to compete as a 3A school.
Marion, meanwhile, will remain a 3A school for all activities except football, where it will compete for 2A honors.
Goessel and Centre will continue as 1A schools in all activities, but will be swapping divisions for football. Goessel will move from 8-man Division II to 8-man Division I, while Centre will make the reverse move from Division I to Division II.
The changes for football will begin with the 2014 season. All other changes take effect immediately, although they won?t hit home until post-season play begins later this month for girls? tennis, volleyball and cross country.
Peabody-Burns and Can?ton-Galva will continue to compete in 2A in all activities except football, where both are in 8-man Division I.
The KSHSAA determines classifications based on student enrollment as of Sept. 20. General classifications include grades nine through 12, but football classifications include only grades nine through 11.
The count for general classification occurs every year, but football classifications apply for two seasons at a time.
?Football?s the one sport where you can?t play your post-season tournament in two or three days,? explained Robert Rempel, activities director for Hillsboro.
In football, district playoffs begin the last three weeks of the regular season, and the state playoffs extend up to four more weeks for schools that keep winning.
?You can?t adjust those schedules within one year,? Rempel said. ?That?s why it goes to a two-year schedule.?
On the bubble
Rempel said he knew Hillsboro would be ?on the bubble? between 3A and 2A. Last year?s senior class graduated 52 students while this year?s freshman class brought in only 36. In addition, several families moved out of the district.
Last year, Hillsboro?s grades 9-12 enrollment numbered 180, ranking it 48th among the 64 schools in 3A.
This year, Hillsboro?s count dropped to 153, making it the fourth largest school in 2A?one student behind the three-way tie for the top spot between Ell-Saline, Reming?ton and McLouth at 154.
For football, the cut was even closer. Last year, Hills?boro was tied for 46th among the 64 schools in 3A with 141 students in grades 9-11.
This year Hillsboro is the smallest school in 3A football at 117.
Meanwhile, the largest school in 2A is Wabaunsee, also with 117. Hillsboro was ranked higher because its enrollment was larger than Wabaunsee?s the previous year.
The story was similar for Marion, but with an opposite outcome.
Last year Marion was tied for the 49th largest school in 3A with 179 students, and this year recorded a count of 160, tying it with Kansas City Christian for 62nd among the 64 schools designated for 3A.
In football, Marion?s enrollment of 140 made it the 48th largest school in 3A in the previous count. Now, with a count of 116 students, Marion will be the second-largest school in 2A football.
Meanwhile the changes for Goessel and Centre were less dramatic, but in opposite directions.
Goessel?s enrollment for general classification actually increased from 79 to 83, while football enrollment increased from 57 to 68.
The football increase of 11 students in grades nine through 11 bumped Goessel from being the 40th smallest school among 50 in Division I to being among the top six of 52 schools in Division II.
Meanwhile, Centre?s enrollment decreased from 91 to 89 for general classification and 79 to 63 for football.
The 16-student decrease in football moved Centre from the 15th largest school in 1A Division I to the second largest school in 1A Division II.
How the classification changes will affect the schools will depend on how students respond to it, according to Rempel.
Hillsboro has participated at the 3A level for nearly 40 years.
?I?ve talked to some kids, and you get different perspectives,? Rempel said. ?For some of them, it doesn?t matter. But some of them are upset because they are afraid the competition could be less. That tells you something about the drive some of our kids have.?
He added: ?One of the things I hope is that we don?t take anything lightly, because I think there are just as powerful teams in 2A. But I?m not sure our kids understand that.?