The 24 largest high schools in the Pikes Peak region have combined for an athletics league realignment plan.
The Class 4A/5A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference is absorbing four schools from the 4A/5A Colorado Springs Metro League. Two current PPAC schools are headed to the revamped 4A Colorado Springs Metro League.
“At one time there was just a Colorado Springs 5A Metro League and 4A Metro League,” said Pine Creek Athletic Director Eric Hulen. “With more schools, we’ve had to be more flexible and make changes.”
The newly revamped PPAC will grow from eight to 11 schools. Remaining in the league will be Palmer Ridge, Lewis-Palmer, Discovery Canyon, Air Academy, Cheyenne Mountain and Vista Ridge. Five 5A CSML schools are joining the league: Liberty, Rampart Pine Creek, Doherty and Fountain-Fort Carson.
Falcon and Sand Creek will leave the league to join the restructured — and expanding — 4A CSML.
“There needed to be a reallocation of those three leagues,” Hulen said.
The 11-school PPAC will be in place for a two-year period beginning in the fall of 2020 (2020-21 and 2021-22).
“We believe the competitive balance is a good thing for all the schools involved,” said Palmer Ridge Athletic Director Lance McCorkle. “We wanted to make sure we had a strong (PPAC) and we wanted to make sure the rest of the schools were in a league (CSML) that made sense for them. We’re already playing most of those schools in non-league.”
The sports affected by the new league realignment will be boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball.
The other CHSAA sports, including football, will continue to compete in a mix of leagues that involve PPAC schools, CSML schools, and other schools from the Pikes Peak region and state. The classification of those sports will range from 3A to 5A.
The new PPAC basketball schedule, for example, means that every school will play a league opponent once for a total of 10 games. An end of the season tournament will add two more games to the schedule. Each school will play 11 non-league games for a grand total of 23.
In soccer there are 15 regular-season games. The new format means there will be 10 leagues games for each school and five non-league games.
The baseball schedule will involve every school playing each other twice for a total of 20 games, while added three non-league games for a total of 23.
Softball will have each school playing each other one time, while adding 13 non-league opponents for a total of 23 games.
Hulen was a driving force behind the new league realignments. He and the other athletic directors wanted to make sure that the two teams that were leaving the 4A/5A CSML — Palmer and Coronado — went into a league that made sense. The 4A CSML provided that landing spot.
“I’ve been involved in high school sports in Colorado Springs for 25 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes,” Hulen said. “This isn’t the first time we’ve reorganized leagues, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. We have good leadership within our group and in the end I think everybody is happy with the way things worked out.”
The new 4A CSML will grow from nine to 13 school and be divided into two divisions. The seven-school South division will consist of Woodland Park Palmer, Mesa Ridge, Coronado, Harrison, Widefield and Cañon City.
The North division will be consist of six schools and include former PPAC members Falcon and Sand Creek, as well as current 4A CSML schools The Classical Academy, Sierra, Mitchell and Elizabeth.
“It should be fun,” said Woodland Park Athletic Director Joe Roskam. “The new league will help us in some areas, and in other areas it will still be tough.”
Many CSML schools, including Woodland Park, have scheduled non-league games with PPAC schools for years. Last month, Woodland Park hosted Discovery Canyon in a volleyball match.
There was an attempt to try and get the six Pueblo schools — primarily Pueblo West — involved in the league realignment. The Pueblo schools elected to remain together in a the same league for at least the next two-year cycle.
“There’s discussion that some of the Pueblo schools may dissolve or combine,” Hulen said. “We will watch and see what happens.”