Published: October 26, 2011
High school football won’t be the same next year.
The Colorado High School Activities Association released its proposed changes for football realignment for the 2012-13 seasons and it split up several league rivalries.
It also dumped one of the state’s best teams in with Colorado Springs’ 5A schools, leaving one local coach incredulous.
Fountain-Fort Carson, Doherty and Palmer will be thrown into the South League, which includes one of the top teams in Valor Christian -- a private school with fewer than 600 students, that requested to play 5A for the previous cycle but was denied. The Eagles won the 2009 3A title and the 2010 4A title and are poised to repeat this season in 4A. They are expected to be approved for the 5A move this time, lumping them with the Colorado Springs 5A teams and four other Denver-area teams. The school is in Highlands Ranch, mere miles from Highlands Ranch, ThunderRidge and Mountain Vista high schools, all in the 5A Continental League.
“I don’t know why they would do that,” first-year Palmer coach Doug Miolen said. “Douglas County has all those schools up there and they’re all next to each other. Play each other. Why they want to come down here and make us come up there (possibly) three times, economically it doesn’t make sense, geographically it doesn’t make sense.
“But we’ll play them. It’s football and we’ll play them.”
Because of enrollment, Palmer Ridge will move up to 4A while crosstown rival Lewis-Palmer remains at 3A, and Colorado Springs Christian School will drop from 2A to 1A, while rival St. Mary’s remains in 2A.
While both sets of rivals will probably continue to play one another, it won’t be in the same class, let alone the same league.
“There’s a lot more weight on it when it is a conference game, but it doesn’t make it that much less,” Palmer Ridge coach Monte Gutowski said. “I think just being able to play that game for those schools’ teams is a good thing. I don’t think whether it’s a conference game or not, that it really matters a ton.”
Palmer Ridge will also renew a rivalry. Moving up with the Bears into 4A and into the proposed South Metro League will be Pikes Peak 3A No. 1 Vista Ridge. The Wolves and Bears, both relatively new varsity programs, developed their programs in the now-defunct Pioneer League.
“We’re pretty familiar with those guys,” Gutowski said. “I think it’ll be good to play those guys again and be in the same league, like we were when we first started our schools.”
Moving up was something Vista Ridge has been planning for since Day 1.
“We always knew that this time was going to come, from the time we opened up,” Wolves coach Les Johnson said. “It was just a matter of getting the numbers together. We’re excited to make that move.”
He’s also looking forward to renewing that rivalry with Palmer Ridge.
“It is a little rivalry,” Johnson said. “If you remember back when we first came out it became a rivalry.”
While those teams move up to 4A, Rampart moved down to 4A, a fit the Rams needed.
"We were barely 5A (last realignment)," Rams coach J.J. Owens said. "We're excited about being 4A. It's a great fit for us."
Owens is planning on making it tough for his team to prepare for league play.
"Pine Creek will be the team to beat," Owens said. "Playing the best we can outside league prepares us to play the best and compete for that league title."
The Football Committee meets Nov. 29, will make its final decision on all proposals and will submit that to the legislative council Jan. 19. The new cycle would last for school years from 2012-2014.
Here's the full breakdown with each league that includes at least one area team:
Fountain Ft. Carson
South Metro (6)
Pikes Peak (5)
The Classical Academy
South Central (6)
South Central (6)
Black Forest Div. (5)
Southern Division (6)
Pikes Peak Chr.
Colorado D & B
Here's the remaining timeline for CHSAA's realignment process:
Nov. 7 – CDE enrollment counts are due and will be gathered by office
Nov. 15 – CLOC mtg. Football play-downs will be approved/denied
Nov. 18 – second draft will be submitted to the membership
Nov. 22 – Deadline for proposals from leagues to be considered by the football committee
Nov. 29 – Football Committee Meeting. All proposals submitted before the deadline will be considered at the meeting. The committee will make the final decision on the proposal that will be submitted to the Legislative Council on Jan. 19 as part of the football committee report.
Criteria for determining leagues (in no particular order)
- Balancing the number of teams within leagues
- Keep traditional leagues together when possible
- Once leagues have been developed, qualifiers will be determined