Reclassification draws mixed reactions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — Change can be seen as either a necessary good, or an unnecessary evil. In the case of the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s decision to add a 6A classification, only time will tell.

With Mississippi’s reclassification beginning in 2009 one thing is for sure, players, coaches and fans alike will have plenty of time to ponder what effect the new classes will have on their respective schools.

Among area coaches, there seems to be different schools of thought as to the outcome it’ll have on their divisions and schools.

Email newsletter signup

Due to 6A still taking 32 teams, the same amount as the current 5A classification, Natchez High head coach Lance Reed expects more of the shake-up to involve the middle classes.

“I may be wrong, but I don’t see it affecting us much,” he said. “They’re still going to take the top 32 teams.

“Initially I thought it’d make a big difference… It’ll really affect 4A and 3A when they adjust the wide range of schools.”

Reed said he expects the new system to affect the 3A and 4A schools the most because he expects it to level the playing field, where as significantly smaller schools won’t be expected to compete with schools that nearly double their enrollment.

Although Reed thinks the addition of 6A will affect the 3A and 4A schools most, Franklin County head coach Trent Hammond said he doesn’t expect the changes to affect his school significantly.

“We’ll lose North Pike, but our division will pretty much stay what it’s traditionally been.

Hammond, who says he was in favor of expanding 5A – rather than adding a classification, does see a positive in the new system.

“Having a 6A will give smaller sized teams, who are a little smaller in their bracket a chance to (go deeper in the state tournament),” he said.

Cathedral’s head coach echoed Hammond’s thoughts.

“I was glad they made a 6A classification,” Craig Beesley said. “More teams will get into the playoffs and hopefully (it will make) a smaller division travel-wise.”

Reed says the chance to give more schools and players increased recognition was a major factor in the MHSAA’s decision.

“It gives schools better chances to win state championships and get state awards and recognition. I think that was the ultimate factor in the decision.”

One possible problem seen with the reclassification is scheduling the required amount of divisional and non-divisional opponents.

“I’m sure everyone is going to have to get used to the new schedule… It’s always going to be something that we have to work through, and that’s just one of the kinks we’re going to have to work out,” Beesley said.