The Arkansas Activities Association released its new athletic classification numbers on Wednesday and to no surprise more changes are on the horizon for the 2014-16 seasons.
The biggest changes could take place in the 2-4A Conference as longtime member Marianna-Lee will drop down to 3A, opening a spot for a new school.
A good fit would be Riverview in Searcy. The Raiders, which are moving up, would make a good fit both geographically and athletically. They traditionally have good boys and girls basketball teams and their junior high football team was salty last year, finishing runner-up in the formidable 2-3A.
Replacing Marianna would boost the conference while cutting down on travel time for Heber Springs’ fans.
However, there is a wild card in place with Helena-West Helena Central dropping from 5A to 4A. Considering Helena’s close proximity to Marianna, the Cougars could very well replace the Trojans.
And for those who complain about traveling to Marianna, the metal detectors await you in Helena, where crime is rampant, unfortunately like much of Arkansas’ eastern delta region.
On the other hand, Harrisburg is moving up from 3A to 4A and would make a perfect fit for the 3-4A Conference in northeast Arkansas. Considering the 3-4A is losing Valley View to 5A, the Hornets will certainly be placed in the 3-4A. Depending on what happens with Helena, Cave City could be pushed back to the 2-4A, which could vault Pine Bluff Dollarway out of the 2-4A and back to the 8-4A.
In a perfect world the new 2-4A would consist of charter members Heber Springs, Stuttgart, Lonoke and Southside Batesville along with longtime members Clinton and Newport, which has been moved nearly every cycle. The Greyhounds should be kept in place for once, but they could be looking at a move back to the 3-4A.
The 2-4A newcomers would be Cave City and Riverview with Helena-West Helena Central joining either the 3-4A or 8-4A, and Dollarway moving back to the 8-4A as previously mentioned.
Maumelle, which currently competes in the 4-4A following a cycle in the 7-4A, would also be a decent fit in Heber’s newly aligned conference.
E-Stem, a private charter school located in downtown Little Rock moving up to 4A, faces several possibilities. E-Stem doesn’t have football yet so I would recommend placing them in the 7-4A in basketball only, similar to Little Rock Lutheran in the 2-4A several years ago.
However, Fountain Lake is moving up to 4A and the Cobras make a perfect fit in all sports for the 7-4A, which already boasts the best football conference.
Huntsville moved up to 5A last year and will move back down to 4A next cycle. They would be a natural fit in the 1-4A, which is losing Farmington to 5A.
Page 2 of 2 - The other schools in the The Sun-Times coverage area will see some minimal changes as well with 3A Rose Bud losing rival Riverview, opening a spot for a new member. Cedar Ridge is moving up from 2A and could be the answer.
Pangburn barely stayed in 2A, recording the largest enrollment of 187 students. The Tigers will lose Cedar Ridge, hopefully opening up a spot for fellow lake area 2A school Quitman ¬ at least in all but football. The two schools roughly 40 minutes apart do not currently play in the same region, much less district.
West Side and Concord will likely see minimal if any changes due to reclassification.
(Will Gilbert is sports editor for The Sun-Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)