The Colorado High School Activities Association board on Friday approved a new football alignment for the next two-year cycle.
“Numbers are low across the state, numbers are low across the country,” said Pine Creek High School coach Todd Miller. “We are trying to get a competitive battle that is able to play week-to-week.”
The alignments were determined by using enrollment numbers, competitive balance, geography, risk minimization, success vs. non-success, school participation percentage and regular season and postseason implications.
One change includes Pike Creek, which is now a 4A team playing in the mixed-class league with 5A schools during the regular season as a member of the South league.
“Our program has gotten to the point where we can step up to that challenge of playing a classification above during the regular season,” Miller said. “The negative would be losing some of the visibility locally when you go into Denver. But by us bumping up, it’ll assure that we will get games.”
Even though Pine Creek is categorized with Class 5A in the regular season, it can only qualify for the 4A playoffs. Miller said he’s not fully focused on the 2020 campaign just yet, but is preparing the current underclassmen for taking on tougher opponents.
“These incoming freshmen, we are trying to do everything we can to prepare them for that next level,” Miller said. “Other than that, it’s uncharted territory for us. To go through the conference schedule is going to be tough, but I think our kids are looking forward to that.”
Fountain-Fort Carson High School moved down from Class 5A to 4A and will be playing in the Southern 2 league. Coach Jake Novotny said he’s pleased because the team will now be able to compete against Mesa Ridge High School, an opponent less than five miles away.
“It’s about building community ties that we haven’t had,” Novotny said. “There’s that natural rivalry that we haven’t had since I was here as head coach. You know everybody on the other side, and our kids haven’t had that.”
In recent years, Fountain-Fort Carson has been forced to drive to Denver for a majority of its conference games, making it tough for the fan base to watch their team on Friday nights.
“The travel, because of how south we are, made no sense,” Novotny said. “When we are in that next cycle, the furthest we will travel is the northern end of (Colorado) Springs.”
Widefield High School has been moved to the new I-25 league of Class 4A. In that league, only the champion can qualify for the playoffs. Other teams in the I-25 league include Cheyenne Mountain, Falcon, Liberty, Palmer and Thornton.
Palmer Ridge High School moved up from Class 3A to 4A. Rival Lewis-Palmer High School will remain in Class 3A.