Redistricting may hurt Flashes in football, help Vikings, Gators

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 5, 2000

The extra travel St. Aloysius will face for next year’s football games could end up being the least of concerns for Flashes coach Jim Taylor.

With all of Class 1A moving to a region system, St. Al, which will have to travel an average of 111 miles for each region game, will play in Region 4-1A with nine other schools.

Unlike the division system, in which the top two teams advance to the playoffs, the top four from each of the four regions advance.

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Since 1984, when the state moved to a class system for its playoffs, nine of the 17 state championships were won by the Flashes’ new opponents.

“It’s not good, but I don’t know how it could be good unless they let me pick the regions,” Taylor said with a chuckle.

Mize, which won the title this year, also won in 1988 and 1995. Stringer won three straight, 1990-92, Mount Olive (1989), Dexter (1987) and Enterprise (1986) all will be on St. Al’s schedule. West Lincoln, Bogue Chitto, Salem and Cathedral, which dropped to Class 1A, are also in the region.

Schools have until Dec. 15 to appeal the MHSAA’s decision, but Taylor said he won’t appeal.

“I wouldn’t know what to ask for except a chalkboard so I could draw up my own region,” said Taylor, who voted against Class 1A going to the region system.

The longest division trip the team took this past year was to Pisgah, which is 71 miles. Each one-way trip averaged 64 miles.

In the new region, only Cathedral (74 miles), Mize (98) and Mount Olive (95) are less than 100 miles. One-way trips to Salem and Dexter are 142 miles; Stringer is 132.

Pisgah, Puckett and Pelahatchie all moved into Region 3-1A.

“We’ll have to drive right through Pelahatchie, then go an extra 50 miles to Stringer,” said Taylor, who is considering adding an 11th game to the schedule since the Flashes will play nine region games instead of the four division games, like years past.

“We’re kicking that around,” said Taylor, adding that Greenville-St. Joe will be on the schedule as a non-region game.

Currently, the St. Al basketball teams play in a similar division as the new football, but the basketball teams will see a slight reduction in travel time.

Average one-way travel for the basketball teams now is 113 miles, but that will dip to 89 with the addition of the Mississippi School for the Deaf and Cathedral. Salem, Madison-St. Joseph and Dexter were removed from the Flashes’ basketball division.

For Vicksburg and Warren Central, the news was a lot brighter.

In football’s Region 2-5A, Greenville moved to 1-5A and Indianola-Gentry dropped to Class 4A. Northwest Rankin and Forest Hill will join WC, VHS, Madison Central, Clinton, Callaway and Murrah.

“I like it,” Warren Central coach Robert Morgan said. “Number one is travel. Northwest Rankin will be our farthest game and it’s an hour. And number two, they are better teams.

“Northwest Rankin is coming on and are becoming more competitive every year and Forest Hill, most of the time, is competitive. I think this is a plus for us.”

Delta teams are gone from the basketball division as well. Vicksburg and Warren Central will pick up Clinton and Natchez for the four-team division, instantly making the goings tough on the court, coaches said.

“It will be exciting,” Vicksburg boys basketball coach Dellie Robinson said. “With Natchez and Clinton, there will be some real good basketball.”

The shorter drive-time isn’t a perk to Robiinson.

“Travel will be better. But as far as Natchez and Clinton, those are two tough places to get a win,” Robinson said.

Harrison Central tops 5A schools with 2,266 students, while the Gulf Coast’s St. Martin, which moved up from 4A, has 1,040 students according to the MHSAA. VHS has 1,208 and WC 1,171.

In Class 1A, Coffeeville tops out at 213 students while MSD has 40. St. Al has 196.

The MHSAA redistricts all state teams every two years.