The top classification for high school football is about to become more exclusive.
It’s been known for months that the new Class 5A was coming, but the schools were formally recommended by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s realignment committee Thursday at Chaparral.
The recommendation of a 12-team 5A — which, in an unexpected move, includes Centennial and Coronado — will be voted on Jan. 17 by the NIAA Board of Control.
The committee voted to have 12 schools in 5A but was at a standstill on which 12. It went by rubric points, the scoring system based on postseason finish, to decide the top 10. The committee chose Bishop Gorman, Liberty, Arbor View, Basic, Faith Lutheran, Foothill, Green Valley, Legacy, Canyon Springs and Las Vegas, but could not find two more schools.
Once the committee started looking at historical trends, Centennial and Coronado, which accumulated no rubric points, made the decision easy.
Centennial principal Trent Day said that even though his school didn’t have the rubric points to qualify for 5A, the “eye test” said Centennial should be a 5A school.
“If we’re going to develop a better community that we make a competitive balance for everybody, and therefore I believe with Centennial having (3,051) kids, we should aspire to be the best,” Day said. “If you want to be the best, you have to be in the best conference.”
Coronado, the largest school in Nevada with an unofficial enrollment of 3,392, echoed those thoughts. So despite not making the playoffs each of the past two seasons, both schools volunteered to move to 5A, and the committee voted unanimously.
The current 4A Northern Region previously voted to remain in 4A, making 5A a Southern Nevada-only league.
The new classification will begin next school year and last through the 2019-20 school year. Football will be classified differently from the other sports, so some schools might be in 5A in football but not in anything else.
Then came the determining factors for 4A. Desert Pines, the two-time defending 3A state football champion, moved up, but Mojave stayed in 3A and Chaparral petitioned to remain in 3A instead of moving up. With the committee having already agreed on 13 schools for 4A, that left two schools in 4A that did not want to be there.
Eldorado and Valley, by nature of playing in the five-team Northeast League, reached the postseason each of the past two seasons and accumulated rubric points with four teams making the postseason.
Eldorado coach Robert Cutts said the geographical setup was unfair, and that the Sundevils had not reached the postseason since 2004 before being placed in a league that allowed them to make the postseason twice with a two-year regular-season record of 4-14. The only thing Eldorado and Valley had to do to reach the playoffs and accumulate rubric points was beat Rancho, which has not won a game since 2015.
But Cutts’ request was denied, and Eldorado and Valley remained in 4A and Rancho dropped to 3A.
“I want to be competitive. I want my kids to have a chance, and it’s been demonstrated over a few years that does not exist in 4A,” Cutts said. “Every year you have to tell your seniors, ‘Hey, you’re the ones to change it, you’re the ones to turn it around,’ and I feel like I’ve lied to them.
“And I’m going to lie to them again this year and continue that, because the system is against them because the board is afraid to ruffle some feathers.”
Rancho was the only school to drop a classification, moving to 3A. Democracy Prep, which played in 2A last season, reached the enrollment threshold to become a 3A school.
Arbor View, Basic, Bishop Gorman, Canyon Springs, Centennial, Coronado, Faith Lutheran, Foothill, Green Valley, Las Vegas, Legacy, Liberty.
Bonanza, Cimarron-Memorial, Clark, Desert Oasis, Desert Pines, Durango, Eldorado, Palo Verde, Shadow Ridge, Sierra Vista, Silverado, Spring Valley, Valley.
Boulder City, Chaparral, Cheyenne, Del Sol, Democracy Prep, Moapa Valley, Mojave, Pahrump Valley, Rancho, Sunrise Mountain, Virgin Valley, Western.
Arbor View, Basic, Bishop Gorman, Centennial, Coronado, Desert Oasis, Faith Lutheran, Foothill, Green Valley, Las Vegas, Liberty, Palo Verde, Rancho, Shadow Ridge, Silverado.
Bonanza, Canyon Springs, Cheyenne, Cimarron-Memorial, Clark, Desert Pines, Durango, Eldorado, Legacy, Sierra Vista, Spring Valley, Tech, Valley.
Boulder City, Chaparral, Del Sol, Democracy Prep, Moapa Valley, Mojave, Pahrump Valley, Sky Pointe, SLAM Academy (full member in 2019-20), Somerset-Losee, Sunrise Mountain, Virgin Valley, Western.