By MATT KOESTERS
Several area programs saw major changes in their postseason prospects when the Indiana High School Athletic Association announced classifications for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 athletic seasons on Tuesday.
The biggest change came at the top of the football classifications, where both New Albany and Jeffersonville are moving into the newly created Class 6A, comprised of Indiana’s 32 biggest schools by population. Jeff had long been expected to make the move to 6A, but New Albany’s inclusion hadn’t.
New Albany football coach Charlie Fields is taking the news of the move in stride.
“We’re excited about it. This is going to be a big challenge, obviously, but we’re very excited,” Fields said. “We think we’re up for the challenge. We think we’ve got our program moving in the right direction. We know what this entails, we know what a step up it’s going to be.”
The inclusion of Jeffersonville and New Albany in the new class leaves Floyd Central as the Clark-Floyd area’s only 5A program, breaking up the postseason rivalry between the three Hoosier Hills Conference powers.
“It will be different, because Floyd Central and New Albany won’t be in the same sectional,” Floyd Central boss Brian Glesing said. “It will be different for us.”
But the regular-season series between the two teams will continue, and that’s the game that really matters anyway, Fields said.
“You know, it’s been kind of bittersweet. We’ve had a nice little run with them where we’d finish up the year and then have to come back and see them in the playoffs,” Fields said. “But we still see them in the year and that game has a lot of pull to it, a lot of meaning to it. So not seeing them in the playoffs — the playoff game just didn’t have the atmosphere that the regular-season game did. I think it’s because it’s for the Anchor Trophy, I think.”
With the IHSAA’s success-factor system, it’s likely that New Albany will move back to Class 5A in two years. New Albany is the 31st-largest school, and teams moving up from 5A would push the Bulldogs back into Floyd Central’s sectional.
Sectional alignments have not been announced. Fields said he expects the pairings to be announced by the IHSAA sometime in April.
Jeffersonville football coach Lonnie Oldham did not return a call requesting comment.
The Red Devils and Bulldogs aren’t the only area football programs on the move. Entering just its third year as a varsity program, Silver Creek is moving up from Class 3A to 4A.
“I was expecting it, but not expecting it so soon,” Silver Creek coach Mike Donahue said. “I know the school’s been growing at a very fast pace, and was hoping this would be more like three or four years down the road. But due to the new Class 6A, I think that kind of kicked it all into gear.”
Like Fields, Donahue is trying to use the increased postseason challenge as a motivating tool for his players.
“I’m also using it as a way of pumping up the kids, to let them know we’re still new, but now we’ve got to put on the big-boy pants and go to work,” Donahue said.
Classification changes of area teams weren’t limited to football. Thanks to the IHSAA’s success-factor metric, the Providence girls’ soccer team moves up to Class 2A from Class A after a state championship in 2011 and a semi-state championship in 2012.
Joining Providence in Class 2A will be the Silver Creek and Charlestown girls’ soccer teams, which move up because of school population. The Dragons’ and Pirates’ boys’ soccer teams will also move to 2A.
No other area teams were affected in any other sport.