Football: New alignment recommendations come from anticipated football committee meeting

Virtual Centennial League reunion among proposed 5A conference changes, while postseason field could grow from 16 to 24 teams

Jordan Billingsley, center, and the Grandview football team would play Cherry Creek in conference play for the next two-year cycle if the Class 5A realignment proposal agreed upon at the Colorado High School Activities Association’s football committee on Dec. 7, 2017, is approved in January. The Wolves and Bruins used to play every season as part of the Centennial League, but had to meet in non-league play for the past two seasons after the advent of 5A’s waterfall alignment. Grandview and Cherry Creek would be reunited along with Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Overland and Arapahoe in the Metro East conference. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | The discussion since the advent of the controversial “waterfall” alignment for Class 5A football two seasons ago bore fruit Thursday at the Colorado High School Activities’ football committee meeting.

The experiment that reclassified teams with little to no history with each other into divisions — which created logistical challenges, hurt attendance and sacrificed district and neighborhood rivalries — came to an end and a return to a more traditional set up is now favored by the football committee.

FOOTBALL REALIGNMENT

The well-attended meeting was officiated by Aurora Public Schools’ Athletic Director Mike Krueger, the chairman of CHSAA’s football committee, and produced some results that sought to allay a lot of the concerns with the system that was in place over the past two seasons.

The recommendations need to be approved at CHSAA’s Legislative Meeting in January to take effect.

Under the new proposal, the former Centennial League would be almost completely reunited with Aurora programs Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest (the 5A runner-up this season), Grandview and Overland coming together along with Cherry Creek and Arapahoe in the Metro East league. Eaglecrest (Mount Wilson), Grandview (Mount Massive) and Cherry Creek (Mount Elbert) all won league championships in 2017.

Smoky Hill, a member of the Centennial League in all other sports, has been placed in a new 10-team division of programs classified as “struggling,” a group that includes another Aurora program, Rangeview. None of the 10 teams (a group that is rounded out by Denver East, Adams City, Far Northeast, Westminster, Boulder, Mountain Range, Prairie View and Northglenn) won more than three games in the 2017 season.

Regis Jesuit (the Mount Antero League champion the past two seasons) would move into the South conference, which includes three other schools on the southern end of the Metro Area as well as two from Colorado Springs.

The playoff field — which was reduced from 32 teams to 16 to coincidence with the institution of the waterfall — is recommended to be increased to 24 teams. The top eight teams would get byes and then face winners from a 16-team first round.

Four of the five Aurora Public Schools programs (Aurora Central, Gateway, Hinkley and Vista PEAK) will play 4A in the upcoming two-year cycle.

Aurora Central and Hinkley drop down from 5A, where they each won a single game in the 2017 season, while Gateway remains in the classification it has been in for the past two seasons.

Vista PEAK has played in 3A since its debut varsity season and while the rest of its sports are slated to be 5A next season, will play in 4A in football for at least the next two years.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or sports@aurorasentinel.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

PROPOSED FOOTBALL ALIGNMENTS

Aurora teams bold and uppercased

Class 5A

North: Fairview, Horizon, Legacy, Fossil Ridge, Poudre, Rocky Mountain

Metro West: Arvada West, Columbine, Lakewood, Pomona, Ralston Valley, Mullen

South: REGIS JESUIT, Chaparral, Douglas County, Legend, Fountain-Fort Carson, Doherty

Metro South: Valor Christian, Highlands Ranch, Mountain Vista, ThunderRidge, Rock Canyon, Castle View

Metro East: CHEROKEE TRAIL, Cherry Creek, EAGLECREST, GRANDVIEW, OVERLAND, Arapahoe

10: Denver East, SMOKY HILL, RANGEVIEW, Adams City, Far Northeast, Westminster, Boulder, Mountain Range, Prairie View, Northglenn

Class 4A

Northern 1: Windsor, Broomfield, Greeley West, Longmont, Mountain View, Brighton

Northern 2: Monarch, Loveland, Silver Creek, Skyline, Fort Collins, Greeley Central

Metro 1: Dakota Ridge, Wheat Ridge, Golden, Chatfield, Bear Creek, Grand Junction

Metro 2: Ponderosa, Denver South, AURORA CENTRAL, Heritage, GATEWAY, Montrose

Metro 3: Centaurus, VISTA PEAK, HINKLEY, Thornton, Standley Lake, Fruita Monument

Southern 1: Pine Creek, Vista Ridge, Mesa Ridge, Cheyenne Mountain, Palmer, Grand Junction Central

Southern 2: Pueblo West, Air Academy, Liberty, Coronado, Rampart, Widefield