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NIAA approves 6-team Open Division for high school football

Updated December 7, 2022 - 5:35 pm

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association has given preliminary approval to add an Open Division for the high school football playoffs starting next season.

The top six teams in Class 5A would compete for the Open Division title, and the rest of the 5A teams would compete for the 5A title. That means six state champions would be crowned in football (Open and 5A through 1A).

The proposal keeps nine Northern schools in 5A for football, along with 14 Southern schools. The previous proposal had only 10 Southern schools in 5A, with Northern schools moving into what had been an all-Southern Class 4A.

The NIAA Realignment Committee approved proposals for all nine fall sports Wednesday in Las Vegas in a continuation of last week’s realignment meeting. The committee approved proposals on a sport-by-sport basis.

The proposals still await final approval in January after appeals are heard.

In football, the 5A South would be made up of 14 teams: Arbor View, Basic, Bishop Gorman, Coronado, Desert Pines, Durango, Faith Lutheran, Foothill, Green Valley, Las Vegas, Liberty, Shadow Ridge, Sierra Vista and Silverado. The 5A North would include nine teams.

The method used to select the six teams competing in the Open Division has not been decided. Options include an NIAA rubric or the MaxPreps rankings. Up to two additional teams could petition to be added to the Open Division if they desire.

Class 4A football would have 20 Southern teams in four leagues, with the top two teams from each league qualifying for the postseason. Cadence, Eldorado, Rancho, Valley and Western would move up from 3A.

Class 5A competition for tennis (boys and girls) and girls soccer will be made up of only Southern schools. Boys and girls cross country, boys soccer, girls golf and girls volleyball will have Northern and Southern schools.

The NIAA used results of the last two fall sports state championships and crossover regular-season meetings between Northern and Southern schools to determine which sports would have Northern and Southern schools in 5A and which would be South-only.

Schools can appeal their placement for fall sports for the next two-year cycle, set to begin in fall 2023, at a Jan. 9 appeal meeting in Las Vegas. The final alignment for fall sports will be approved at the NIAA Board of Control meeting Jan. 18-19.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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