Gretna vs. Norris, prep football, 8/25

Gretna's Noah Burghardt (13) hauls in a second-quarter pass as Norris' Ashton Hausmann (35) chases him down at Norris High School on Aug. 25.

TED KIRK, Journal Star

There will be 33 schools in Class A and 22 in Class B for football for the 2018 season, according to the Nebraska Department of Education enrollment numbers that the Nebraska School Activities Association Board of Directors approved at its Thursday meeting in Lincoln.

The NSAA moved to boys enrollment ranges beginning next season for the upcoming two-year football scheduling cycle. Schools now have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they will opt up or down a classification. A number have indicated they intend to opt down a class, making them ineligible for the playoffs. A few are considering opting up a class.

“We’ve had one or two per class that will choose to opt down,” NSAA executive director Jim Tenopir said. “This is unchartered territory for us because in the past, we’ve only allowed schools to opt down to eight-man (from C-2). There are a number of schools who aren’t sure they can compete safely at the class they’re in.”

Elkhorn South, Gretna, Elkhorn, Columbus and South Sioux City will move into Class A, consisting of schools with boys enrollments of 425 or more in the new enrollment figures, from Class B. All six Lincoln Public schools and Lincoln Pius X will remain in Class A.

The Class B cutoff is 160, meaning Platteview, Nebraska City, Aurora and Sidney will be dropping to C-1. With the cutoff at 70 for C-1, both Lincoln Christian and Lincoln Lutheran (now in C-2) will be in Class C-1.

A couple of C-1 powers this season, top-ranked Norfolk Catholic and No. 5 Aquinas, both will drop to C-2. Right now there will be 43 schools in C-1 and 42 in C-2. Schools with boys enrollments under 47 will be eligible for the eight-man playoffs with D-1 and D-2 splitting the remaining schools.

The board also set the size of the football districts to a minimum of five schools and a maximum of six.

That will leave Class A with six districts with the top two finishers getting automatic berths into the playoffs and the top four remaining teams in the wild-card standings to fill out the 16-team field.

In Classes B through D-2, only the district champion will automatically advance, with the rest of the playoff field determined by wild-card points. Sixteen teams move into postseason play in Classes B, C-1 and C-2, while 32 are in the playoffs in D-1 and D-2.

Class B will reduce its districts by half, from eight this season to four in 2018.

Six-man football, which moves under the NSAA umbrella next season, will use wild-card points only to decide its 16-team field, eight more than what they had this year.

The board extended to all classes the current policy of allowing schools that opt down and are ineligible for the playoffs in the first year of the two-year cycle to become eligible in the second year if their boys enrollment drops to within the proper range. Previously the rule only applied to eight-man.

The board also decided not to give bonus wild-card points to schools playing an opponent that has opted down a classification.

The board approved four new cooperative sponsorships for football for next season: Exeter-Milligan and Friend, High Plains and Osceola, Logan View and Scribner-Snyder, and Leyton and Banner County.

3-time state wrestling champ ineligible

The board voted 8-0 to uphold Tenopir’s ruling that Maxwell’s Cameron Riggs must sit out 90 school days after transferring from North Platte St. Pat’s on Sept. 26, making the three-time undefeated Class D state champion ineligible until after the district meet in February.

The family is currently renting a residence in Maxwell and their home in North Platte is being leased to a company that Dan Riggs, the father, has ties to.

“The board felt with the information they were presented, it was difficult to prove there had been a bona fide domicile change,” Tenopir said, adding that Riggs would be immediately eligible if he returned to North Platte St. Pat’s.

Riggs, the two-time defending D state champion at 132 pounds, is 144-0 in his career. He’s 25 wins from the career state record for victories.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or rpowell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.

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Sports reporter

Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.

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