By Gordon Engelhardt
Even though I have written stories on the IHSAA’s sectional realignment for the next two-year cycle, which starts this fall, in the April 30 and May 2 edition of the Courier & Press, there were still a few notes I didn’t have room to include.
For example, North football coach Bret Szabo pointed out that there are 32 teams in the newly-formed Class 6A while Class 5A has 34 schools.
“All of the 6A schools will have a bye in the first week of the playoffs,” Szabo said. “In 5A, four teams are actually going to have to play (in the first round). They had to find a way to do it so all of the other classes (A through 4A) would have 64 teams. They didn’t want to add two teams in 6A, so they added them to 5A and put the last two 4A schools in 5A.”
Adding Class 6A will make it easier for an exceptional Castle or North team to excel in 5A. Szabo, who previously coached at Bedford North Lawrence, noted that his team’s first string might have been able to compete with a 6A school when that 6A school was still in 5A, but the larger school’s depth would eventually wear his team down.
“They have 2,000 or 3,000 more students and 1,500 more boys to choose from, which makes their depth outstanding,” Szabo said. “I think (adding Class 6A) is a great thing. I think it’s equitable. Something needed to be done.”
…EVSC athletic director Paul Neidig noted that the controversial “success factor” is does affect some public school programs, not just private school teams, such as Mater Dei in girls’ basketball.
“The interesting thing about this is there has been a lot of interest from other state associations around the country looking at our model,” Neidig said. “I want to say that Ohio has done something with the tradition (success) factor. I know (IHSAA commissioner) Bobby (Cox) has had conversations with a couple of other state associations about what this model looks like.”