LINCOLN — There will be 33 schools in Class A and 22 in Class B for football for the 2018 season, according to Nebraska Department of Education enrollment numbers approved Thursday by the Nebraska School Activities Association Board of Directors.
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 up to Class A from B, according to the new enrollment figures, with the biggest class consisting of schools with boys enrollments of 425 or more.
The Class B cutoff is 160, meaning Platteview, Nebraska City, Aurora and Sidney will be dropping to C-1.
A couple of C-1 powers this season -- top-ranked Norfolk Catholic and No. 5 Aquinas -- both will drop to C-2, according to the enrollment figures. 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 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 wildcard 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 in half, from eight this season to four in 2018.
Six-man football, which moves under the NSAA umbrella next season, will use wildcard points only to decide its 16-team field, eight more than what they had this year.
The board extended the current policy to all classes of allowing schools that opt down and are ineligible for the playoffs in Year 1 of the two-year cycle to become eligible in Year 2 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 wildcard 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.