By Justin Whitaker
The IHSAA released the new school classifications for 2013-14 and 2014-15 Wednesday and the only changes for Hendricks County schools reside in football.
The enrollment figures, the total of boys and girls in grades 9-12, were submitted by the schools to the Indiana Department of Education last fall and were used to determine the classifications for the next two years.
With the addition of a sixth class in football, the classifications had to be redrawn and several county teams are affected.
Danville moves up from Class 3A to 4A and is the fourth smallest school in its new class. With the restructuring, Plainfield is now the largest school in Class 4A and Avon and Brownsburg are two of the 32 schools in the new Class 6A.
Tri-West stays in Class 3A and Cascade does not move from Class 2A.
The biggest change comes to the Warrior football program that went 7-3 and shared a portion of the Sagamore Conference championship last season.
Coach Russ Sumner learned of the numbers a couple of weeks ago and said he’s looking forward to moving up a class.
“We are excited because it’s a new set of opportunities for us and we think we can compete with most of the schools in 4A,” Sumner said. “We don’t really feel like enrollment has a whole lot to do with whether we are going to be successful in 3A or whether we are going to be successful in 4A. Ultimately it’s just about us taking care of our business.”
Overall, Danville Community High School lost enrollment numbers compared to the last sampling but because of multiple Class 1A schools entering to play football, it bumped the school up a class.
“Even though we were down in enrollment, we still went up in classification and it was mostly because of those smaller schools,” Sumner said.
Plainfield’s enrollment numbers of 1,489 were only eight students away from being ahead of Jennings County and becoming the smallest school in Class 5A.
For the time being, at least until the next reclassification in two years, the Quakers are the largest school in 4A.
“That certainly puts you at an advantage in terms of what you would assume in overall program numbers and our program numbers are very good,” Plainfield coach Brian Woodard said.
But in the same breath, Woodard said he didn’t feel being the largest school in 4A mattered much.
“I’m not really too caught up in being the biggest school in 4A,” he said. “That doesn’t warrant anything. It just means you’re the biggest school by classification.”
Woodard said there is “no question” that the Quakers will be moving onto 5A in two seasons.
Of all of the six classes, Class 4A has the third largest discrepancy between the largest and smallest school in its classification.
Ben Davis’ 4,687 students sets the bar at the top of 6A with 2,752 more students than Lafayette Jeff. In 5A, Terre Haute North has 691 more students than Jennings County. Plainfield has 680 more students than Class 4A’s smallest school of Silver Creek.
Sumner believes that Danville being the fourth smallest school in 4A is not as big of a disadvantage as some may believe.
“Even though there are 64 schools in the 4A class, I don’t see the enrollment being as big of an issue,” he said. “It might be (one of) the largest disparities, but I don’t see the problems that maybe other people see with the enrollment issue.”
There might be a smaller pool of potential athletes of Danville to draw from than other top 4A schools but the Warriors have had great turnout and are not suffering from a lack of student athletes.
“Whether you’re at a big school or a small school, you’re still looking to pull the best athletes out and make them the best football players they can be,” Sumner said. “Yeah, there is a little bit of a draw back, but we don’t really look at it that way. It’s one of those things you can’t control ultimately and we don’t worry about things we can’t control.”
Woodard subscribes to the belief of not worrying about things outside of the program’s control as well. He said he knew the Quakers were right on the bubble of going to either class.
“There is nothing I can do or that Plainfield High School can do to control our enrollment,” he said. “Whether we are a 4A school or a 5A school, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to play who we play in our regular season and we’re going to line up and play who we play in the sectional and hopefully in the regional, in the semistate, or however long that journey takes us. It doesn’t matter. Those things are out of my control — like officiating, the weather, and everything else.”
Plainfield has beaten Danville the last eight years in their season opening contest but last season’s 29-26 game was as close as the Warriors have been.
With the increased competition of last year’s game, Sumner is confident that Danville will be able to compete in Class 4A.
“We were pretty competitive with them last year and our enrollments weren’t that much different than what they are now,” he said. “The fact that we have been more competitive and that we were much more competitive last year with Plainfield that has almost twice our enrollment, I think says that we can compete and play with all of those schools that are larger than us.”
What the reclassification strictly affects is the postseason alignment and sectional grouping. Danville, Plainfield, Avon, and Brownsburg will all have drastically different sectionals. The IHSAA is looking to announce those pairings near the end of April.