High schools move into new divisions

Published 1:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cathedral’s baseball team can feel a little better about their loss to East Webster in last week’s South State finals.

East Webster went on to easily defeat Ingomar in two straight games for the State Championship at Trustmark Park.

I wrote last week about the fact that East Webster had ridden the bad call by one umpire in their trip to the state finals, but the truth is that one bad call, if reversed, would have only resulted in Cathedral’s carrying East Webster into extra innings, with no assurance that the Greenies would have won the game after all.

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East Webster, which won the Class A baseball championship two years ago, also won the Class A basketball championship this year. I do not know East Webster’s enrollment, so I do not know if they will move up to Class AA in 2009 under the new MSHAA guidelines.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association (MSHAA) Board of Trustees has ruled that, starting in the 2009 school year, Mississippi public high schools will move into a six level classification.

The largest 32 schools (which will include Natchez High School) will become the new Class 6A. The next 32 schools will form class 5A. Class 4A down through Class 1A will each contain 49 or 50 schools.

As classifications will depend on October, 2008 enrollment, the exact groupings are not yet known. I do not know where Franklin County High School will fall. They are now in Class 3A, and the new class 3A will probably contain schools with enrollment of 311 to 482. That classification now has enrollments of 370 to 554. Class 1A (Cathedral) now includes schools with 29 to 217 students, while the new figures for Class 1A will be 29 to 203. That means that any of Cathedral’s rival schools who now will have from 204 to 217 students will move up to Class 2A.

The other edict by the MSHAA Board of Trustees is that all sports (other than football) will have to reduce their schedules by 10 percent. As I understand it, that means that basketball teams with a present schedule of 25 games will have to schedule only 22 games.

Football was exempted because it is the major revenue sport for most high schools. Since there are many smaller schools which play only basketball, and not football, I don’t know how that will affect them. Also, basketball seems to be the largest revenue producer for most of the Jackson public schools.

I was saddened to read of the death of Earl Leggett. Leggett played football at Hinds Junior College (and later coached there) before moving on to an All American career at LSU. He then played for ‘Papa George’ Halas and the Chicago Bears, where he and Natchezian Joe Fortunato became friends. I met Leggett when he once visited Joe in Natchez, maybe in conjunction with the Joe Fortunato Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament. Though Leggett’s college football career at LSU ended before I became involved in college football officiating, I am honored to list him among the many famous football figures I met over the years. Included were Coach Bear Bryant (face-to-face on the Alabama sidelines), Coach Johnny Vaught (I could not officiate for Ole Miss, but did play golf with Coach Vaught once), LSU greats Jimmy Taylor and Billy Cannon. There were many others, including a number of All-Americans for whom I officiated.

And, That’s Official.

Al Graning can be reached by e-mail at AlanWard39157@aol.com.