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Southwestern Indiana’s Class 5A football schools have been campaigning for a sixth class in that sport for several years and brought up the issue again at the recent Indiana Football Coaches Association’s Region 9 meeting.
Evansville North and Castle are the only Southwestern Indiana schools currently in Class 5A.
North, ranked 60th in the state this year in enrollment with 1,524 students, thinks it is unfair that it has to compete with schools nearly three times as big (such as Ben Davis, with 4,495 students).
It probably is. But I have little sympathy for the Evansville schools because 15 years ago they thought it was perfectly fair for some schools to have to compete against schools more than 16 times as big as them.
That’s when the Evansville schools—and the Evansville media—were unanimously against introducing class competition to sports other than football.
They saw nothing wrong with Cannelton, with an enrollment of 95, having to face Castle, with an enrollment of 1,554, in the first round of the Boonville boys basketball sectional in 1991.
Cannelton, led by Brad Wroe and Eric Maxey, had a strong team and finished the regular season 11-9 that year, its last winning record.
The Bulldogs beat Tecumseh, which has won the last 10 Class A sectionals, 63-55 on the road in the regular season that year.
So if we had had the current four-class system for basketball then, they might well have won a sectional and even gone beyond that level.
But against Castle they fell short 65-60. And none of the bigger schools were complaining that it wasn’t fair for them to have to face the Knights in the sectional.
Cannelton did beat Castle 62-60 in the first round of the 1985 boys basketball sectional as Brian Garrett scored a Boonville sectional record 42 points.
Garrett scored 30 points in the second half of that game. But Castle Coach Mike Broughton never did change defenses on him—never tried a box-and-one or anything special to slow him down.
Broughton later moved to an even larger school, Jeffersonville, and won the state title in 1993, when the Red Devils’ enrollment was 2,215 and we still had a one-class system in basketball.
That proves that even a mediocre coach can win if he’s at a big enough school facing much smaller opponents.
That’s why the Evansville schools opposed class sports for so long but are crying for more classes in football now that the shoe is on another foot that is big enough to stomp them.
Again I have no sympathy for them.
But I think they will get their wish for a sixth football class in a few years simply because the tourney is outgrowing its five-class format.
There were 317 teams in the state football tourney this year, tying for the most ever under the five-class system.
And with more schools, including Silver Creek, scheduled to add football in upcoming seasons, the tourney could soon have more than 320 teams.
That would require adding a week to the season or shortening the regular season if the five-class system is maintained.
Neither is a desirable option. So I predict that will be when we see a sixth class added in football.