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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of December 3 - 9, 2003


Small schools
retool grid leagues

IHSAA meets to ratify structure

Over the last three months, the Blaine County School District through its superintendent Jim Lewis and Carey School football coach Lane Kirkland has made a major push to restructure small school football in Idaho.

For safety reasons and to improve competitiveness in the Idaho 1A eight-man football ranks, the Carey proposal has been to restructure the small schools into Division 1 (100-159 students) and Division 2 (under 100 students for grades 9-12).

Furthermore, Kirkland’s proposal is to have an eight-team state playoff for 1A Division 1 as well as an eight-team state playoff for 1A Division 2.

This fall was the first time Idaho 1A schools played exclusively eight-man football instead of a combination of 11-man and eight-man. There was only an eight-team state playoff for the 2003 season. In Idaho, there are 42 1A football schools.

As Kirkland said last week, "This year’s tournament bracket really demonstrated that the bigger schools will prevail." Cascade (124 students) defeated Council (131) for this year’s 1A state championship.

The Idaho High School Activities Association board of directors met Tuesday in Boise.

On its agenda was the final reading of Carey School’s proposal to have two eight-team 1A divisions starting in 2004—with each division determining their own state championships.

Kirkland, whose 63-student Carey School falls into the Division 2 category based on student enrollment, expected the proposal to be approved.

Accordingly, members of the Sawtooth and Magic Valley Conferences have already taken steps to set up a new football schedule for the 2004-06 classification cycle.

Dr. Lewis chaired a three-and-a-half hour meeting Nov. 10 at Burley during which the 17 schools playing eight-man football in southern Idaho (Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Districts) were divided along geographical and enrollment lines.

The Magic Valley Conference of larger Division 1 schools will include Castleford, Hagerman, Hansen, Oakley, Raft River and Shoshone.

The Division 2 Sawtooth Conference will be split into Sawtooth West (Carey, Camas County, Dietrich, Murtaugh and Richfield) and Sawtooth East (Clark County, Mackay, North Gem, Rockland and Sho-Ban).

Lighthouse Christian is an independent school not eligible for state-qualifying playoffs.

Next fall’s rotation has Carey playing, in order, Clark County, North Gem, Dietrich, Rockland, Camas County, Richfield and Murtaugh.

Four are Sawtooth West league games, three are against Sawtooth East teams and one against a Magic Valley Conference larger school.

Kirkland hopes that four out of the 10 Sawtooth East/West teams will qualify for the State Division 2 playoffs starting in the fall of 2004.

Both Kirkland and Lewis have emphasized during the restructuring process that the sense of small town pride and identity common to Idaho 1A eight-man football will be enhanced under the new system.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.