Porters Chapel moves to new seven-team district

Published 12:06 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools comes up with a realignment plan every two years, the shape of the organization seldom looks the same as it did before.

With the 2011-13 plan, the MAIS’ smallest schools are taking on a whole new look.

Class A will feature only four districts, down from eight, and 30 schools playing 11-man football. The top four finishers in each district will advance to the playoffs, instead of the top two in the current alignment.

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The structure of Classes AA and AAA did not change.

In past realignments, Class A has included anywhere from six to eight districts, making this the biggest change in years. MAIS director of activities Les Triplett said the overhaul was spurred by the growth of the eight-man football division.

Sixteen teams, the largest number since it was added in 2008, will play eight-man football next season. As that division has grown, the 11-man districts have varied widely in size. District 6-A, for example, had just two teams this season while District 8-A had six.

“It’s like every other alignment. You end up tweaking it because you don’t know who’s going to grow or shrink. This is the first alignment where we’ve really had to do some soul-searching because eight-man is such a significant factor,” Triplett said.

Although the same number of teams will advance to the playoffs in the new

alignment, it should give more schools an opportunity. Instead of a worthy team being squeezed out because it lost one key game, there will now be more margin for error.

“Your season means more now, rather than just three games. It’s even better than the power points system,” Porters Chapel football coach John Weaver said. “It made a lot of sense. The committee that came up with that, I applaud them. It’s the best idea they’ve come up with for single-A in quite some time.”

As with most realignments, geography is a major issue — especially for teams in the Vicksburg area.

Porters Chapel was placed in the seven-team South District, where its closest rival for football is Pearl-based Park Place Christian. The other five teams are Alpha Christian in Hattiesburg; Ben’s Ford in Bogalusa, La.; Newton County Academy; Prentiss Christian; and Heidelberg Academy.

In all other sports, PCA will be in a much more travel-friendly District 5-A. Six of the nine schools are in the Jackson area or just west of it.

“It was going to be a traveling nightmare either way. Going west, we’re going to Minden, Farmerville, Haynesville, Alexandria … almost to Texas,” Weaver said.

Weaver added that the home-and-home schedule, where PCA will only have to travel for three or four district games each of the next two seasons, will alleviate some travel concerns. So will scheduling non-district games against nearby schools like Yazoo City’s Manchester Academy and Tallulah Academy.

“We’re going to schedule Manchester, we’re going to schedule Benton and Tallulah. If these non-district games come through with their commitments, it won’t be a traveling nightmare,” Weaver said.

Among other Vicksburg-area schools:

• Tallulah Academy was placed in the South Central district for football, along with five other Louisiana schools, Wilkinson County Christian and Amite School.

For other sports, Tallulah was placed in District 6-A with Amite, Chamberlain-Hunt, Tensas Academy and Wilkinson County Christian.

• Sharkey-Issaquena Academy switched from 11-man to eight-man football and will compete in District 2. For other sports, SIA was put in District 4-A with Benton Academy, Central Holmes, Clinton Christian, Humphreys and Tri-County.

• Briarfield Academy, Rebul and Tensas remained in the eight-man ranks and will also stay in District 2. In other sports, Briarfield will compete in District 2-A, while Rebul will be in 5-A.

• Central Hinds remained in Class AA, but was relocated to District 3-AA. Central Hinds will be the only Mississippi team in the four-team, Louisiana-centric district. The other schools are River Oaks — this year’s Class AA football champion — Riverdale and Prairie View.