BLITZ: Four things to take out of the recent IHSAA reclassifications

Norwell quarterback Lleyton Bailey warms up prior to a game last season against Leo.

Blitz has awoken from his winter slumber and ready to tackle another season of high school football in Indiana.

With that “sport” called basketball finally out of the way, we can now zero in on what is truly important – the gridiron.

Earlier this week, the IHSAA released the school reclassifications for the next two athletic years. What are some of the things to take out of it at the local level? Let’s take a look…

1. Advantage: Norwell

On paper, Norwell is poised to have perhaps its greatest season since the program advanced to the state championship in 2006. Most of that thinking out of Blitz is due to the vast amount of production returning in 2022, but the reclassification helped out the Knights considerably.

There had been speculation that Norwell could see a bump to Class 4A this cycle due to enrollment. Alas, it came in five students less than the smallest 4A – Angola, anchoring itself as the biggest school in Class 3A for the next two years.

Not only that, the team that picked apart Norwell in the regional round last year and ended up state runner-up, Brebeuf, has been bumped up to 4A due to enrollment.

Sure, there are still challenges in the 3A north (West Lafayette and Mishawaka Marian in particular), but things are setting up nicely for the Knights in 2022.

2. Sectional 3

Last year, Sectional 3 was unique.

With just a trio of teams in the field – Carroll, Warsaw and Homestead – one squad was granted a “double bye” in which it had a second off week after the normal idle Week 10 for the top two classes. That was Warsaw, which just so happened to lose its first playoff game to Carroll by 36 points. Whether that was a problem of being rusty, who knows.

But it is back to normal in 2022 and 2023 as Northrop has been bumped back up to Class 6A due to enrollment. The Bruins spent the last three years in 5A, going 1-3 in the process.

It is pick your poison for Northrop. Would it rather be in 5A in a sectional with Bishop Dwenger and Snider or in 6A with Carroll and Homestead?

Regardless, at the very least we are likely back to a four-team Sectional 3, with double byes (hopefully) a thing of the past.

3. Snider-Dwenger remains a thing

Anticipation was at a fever pitch last year in early November when Bishop Dwenger and Snider faced off for the first time ever in postseason competition. After falling to the Panthers by double digits in the regular season, the Saints returned the favor in the playoffs, ousting Snider out of the playoffs with a convincing 42-20 victory at Shields Field.

With the newest classifications, we are likely assured more matchups between the two in sectional play. Bishop Dwenger will remain in Class 5A due to Success Factor, meaning these two traditional powers could meet twice in a season for the foreseeable future.

Blitz is definitely down with that.

4. Future what ifs

While it is interesting to dissect the new reclassifications, it is interesting to look at what could be come the middle part of the 2020s.

Some of the schools to watch outside of Norwell when it comes to enrollment include:

  • North Side, which is the smallest school by enrollment in Class 5A outside of Bishop Dwenger, which is bumped up due to Success Factor.
  • Angola, which is the smallest school in Class 4A outside of “Success Factored” Evansville Reitz.
  • Adams Central, which fell just a dozen students short of being bumped to Class 2A.

Things tend to ebb and flow when it comes to enrollments, as well as the cut-off for classes. But as we saw with this reclassification with programs like Woodlan, Fairfield and Churubusco, all bumped up a class, a considerable drop or jump in kids in the building can really affect your postseason aspirations.

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