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Prep Sports

August 17, 2013

More than football? Lower part of 6A splits east-west for football; other sports could follow

Class 6A football coaches and athletic directors in the new 15-team Class 6A Division II met Friday in Sapulpa and have agreed to divide the districts along geographical lines.

That’s not all.

They also unanimously approved seeking a similar 6A split in all competitive athletics. More than 85 percent of the state titles in all sports have occurred in the upper half of 6A schools in terms of enrollment. The fact that Union and Jenks, the state’s second and third largest schools, had won the last 17 football titles helped bring about the change for football.

The Tulsa World reported online Friday that the vote was 10-5 to send Ponca City to the eastern district and Stillwater to the western district. Otherwise, all other teams are split among east and west lines for football.

The East district in the plan, which goes into effect in 2014-15, puts Muskogee with Bartlesville, Bixby, Tulsa Washington, Claremore, Ponca City, Sand Springs and Sapulpa. Choctaw, Enid, Lawton, Lawton Eisenhower, Midwest City, Putnam City West and Stillwater will make up a seven-team western district. It’s one less than the east side because U.S. Grant has been granted independent status for the next four years — and the other classes have already been divided by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.

“It’s going to create a problem for scheduling for the (lower 6A) west teams,” Muskogee athletic director Bobby Jefferson said. “If you were the biggest 5A team, would you want to help settle the issues 6A created?”

Jefferson didn’t vote on the district issue, deferring that to head football coach Josh Blankenship, who voted for the approved plan. Jefferson was there for the discussion that came up concerning other sports.

“I don’t know where it will ultimately end but from an athletic director’s standpoint, what logical explanation would you have for a coach in another sport who wants what football has got?” Jefferson added.

The top four teams in each district will advance to an eight-team, three-round playoff. The same format will apply to the larger 6A class, which is going to meet in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

At this point, only the football plan, endorsed by the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association, goes now to the OSSAA, which has final say over how the districts are drawn for 2014 and 2015. Realignment in all classes is due for approval in October.

The 6A split in football was approved last spring, citing the enrollment discrepancies. Using recently approved average daily membership figures from the OSSAA, the biggest school in the lower half of 6A, Lawton, has 1,733 students. Broken Arrow (4,680) and Union (4,347) more than double that and Jenks and Owasso exceed it by 1,000 students.

Muskogee coach Josh Blankenship said he has a handshake agreement with McAlester for one of the three non-district games during the next cycle. The other two are still undecided.

Each classification is making recommendations in the next week. Another one that made its recommendation on Friday was 4A meeting in Oklahoma City. Its recommendation would send Fort Gibson and Cascia Hall from the southern-oriented District 4A-4 to 4A-3, joining Wagoner, Vinita, Catoosa, Oologah, Bristow and Miami. Metro Christian, Tulsa McClain and Tulsa Central would go south to 4A-4 with Sallisaw, Broken Bow, Poteau

This decision was made by a committee — not a representative of each school. Singleton said Fort Gibson’s representative was Broken Bow. Wagoner coach Dale Condict claimed 4A-3 had no representative.

“I’ve talked to several 4A-3 coaches and they’re as puzzled as we are. Geographically it doesn’t make sense, and from a competitive balance standpoint it doesn’t make sense.” said Singleton, who added the proposal would toss out a week 3 non-district battle with Wagoner he said he and Condict had set up.

Condict was equally perplexed.

“If it stands, you have one team who over the last four seasons has made the semifinals, and two others that have made it (at least) twice and then you’re throwing in Cascia, which if you count their run of success in 3A and winning (4A-4) a year ago, it’s in no way balanced,” he said. “I’d settle for Metro and Cascia trading places or Fort Gibson trading with McClain.”

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