Oklahoma has another class of high school football. Class 6A has been divided. A 6A Division I and a 6A Division II. Sixteen schools in each. You can read about it here.
Here are my thoughts:
* This does level the playing field for at least 16 schools. The smaller schools in 6A had no hope of competing with Tulsa Union and Jenks, much less beating them. Putnam West, Bixby, Sapulpa, Stillwater. Those schools now have hope. It doesn’t level the playing field for every school — Moore will be in the upper division – but for any struggling football program, it’s now less about enrollment and more about quality of the program.
Of all the football programs in the upper half of 6A, most have been at least competitive. Heck, here are the schools, with average enrollment: Broken Arrow 4,586; Tulsa Union 4,237; Jenk: 3,077; Owasso 2,628; Mustang 2,473; Edmond North 2,445; Moore: 2,153; Yukon 2,130; Norman North 2,068; Edmond Memorial 2,048; Westmoore 1,982; Edmond Santa Fe 1,973; Southmoore 1,955; Putnam City North 1,953; Putnam City 1,731; Norman 1,728.
Most of those schools have been competitive in football in recent years. And those who have not been, it’s not losing to Jenks and Union that is keeping them back.
* The problem with the new format is the lower Division II of 6A. That group has gone from the toughest assignment in Oklahoma high school sports, to the easiest. With U.S. Grant declaring independence for four years, you’re talking about 15 schools competing for a state title, with only a few of them having any history of competitiveness.
Midwest City, Tulsa Washington, Lawton. The contenders are going to be few.
* Why such a protectionist attitude toward Classes 5A and 4A? Going to 16 schools for the top class is fine. But why 16 for the next class? Clearly what needs to happen is a new 5A, with perhaps the 16 smallest 6A schools and the 16 biggest 5A schools. That would create a 32-team class with an enrollment ranging from Lawton (1,722) to Guthrie (888).
You talk about a good class. You’ve got Ponca City, Enid, Stillwater and Bartlesville. The three Lawton schools. Tulsa public schools Washington, Hale, Memorial, East Central and Edison. Oklahoma City schools U.S. Grant, Capitol Hill and Northwest Classen. Midwest City, Del City, Carl Albert and Choctaw. Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Bixby, Claremore and Coweta. Shawnee, Muskogee and Tahlequah. Putnam West, Deer Creek, Guthrie, Altus and Duncan.
That’s a heck of a class. Then you adjust down. Put the current bottom half of 5A into 4A, for a 48-team class.
* But no. We just have to create a new class, so that we can crown NINE state champions in football. NINE. It’s absurd. The new Class 6A Division II is really a consolation bracket.
* You know, you could just go to four-team districts. That’s what we had back in the late ’70s and 1980s. Yes, it’s ridiculous. But the whole dang thing is ridiculous. So why not add to the absurdity.
Here’s what you do. In 6A Division I, go to four-team districts and put the big four in the same district. Broken Arrow, Jenks, Union, Owasso. No other Tulsa-area teams are in the class anyway. Just split up by fours. Then that gives each school seven weeks to schedule non-district games. You could play all kinds of teams.
* You know, if the bottom half of 6A went to four-team districts, U.S. Grant could keep playing. The biggest problem with Grant was having to play the likes of Union and the Edmond schools and the Norman schools.
Put Grant in a four-team district with, I don’t know, let’s make up some districts. Tulsa Washington, Tulsa Hale, Ponca City and Bartlesville in one. Bixby, Muskogee, Sapulpa and Sand Springs in another. Enid, Stillwater, U.S. Grant and Midwest City in another. Finally, Lawton, Lawton Eisenhower, Putnam West and Choctaw.
U.S. Grant could live with that, don’t you think. A district schedule of Enid, Stillwater and Midwest City, then a non-district schedule of fellow Oklahoma City schools.
* Here’s the thing that makes you wonder. U.S. Grant had to jump through hoops to go independence and had to submit plans to upgrade its program. Where’s the hoop-jumping and the printed plans for every school in the bottom half of 6A?