Lincoln Pius X is going back to Class B in football.
Hastings may have grown into Class A. If so, its choice would be whether to stay or opt back to Class B and be ineligible for the playoffs.
Wednesday should tell us how football will look the next two seasons for classifications. That’s when the NSAA is expected to release its enrollment numbers.
We know with certainty that five schools will be new to Class B — Pius, new Omaha schools Buena Vista and Westview and new Lincoln schools Northwest and Standing Bear. The new schools debut in 2022 except for Standing Bear, which opens in 2023.
We think that four longtime Class B teams — McCook, Alliance, Aurora and Omaha Roncalli — will be dropping to Class C-1 because their NSAA enrollment numbers (grades 9-10-11) will be below the 160-boys threshold for Class B football.
And we don’t know where the new cutoff will be to even out the teams in C-1 and C-2.
At Wednesday’s NSAA board meeting in Norfolk, Pius is on the agenda to ask to remain in Class A through the opt-up provision for all sports but football. The NSAA allows schools to opt up or down, but opt-downs result in postseason ineligibility.
Buena Vista and Westview in Omaha will start in Class B — they will open with only freshmen and sophomores — while joining the Metro Conference and opting into Class A in all other sports. Lincoln Northwest and Standing Bear are being built to be Class B-sized schools with eventual capacity of 1,000 for four grades. Translated to NSAA three-grade enrollment, neither of those schools will reach the current Class A threshold of 425 boys or girls without building expansion.
I maintain OPS is erring by not starting its new teams in Class A. Class B is not easier, even for a start with freshmen and sophomores only. OPS should have learned that when Omaha Benson fell into Class B for two years during the 2010s. Benson was 1-8 both years.
The new Lincoln schools have been accepted into the Eastern Midlands Conference. That move will keep that Class B league viable as it faces growth in Bennington and its two Elkhorn members, Elkhorn High and Elkhorn North.
With the new Class C-1/C-2 split replacing the 70-boy threshold for C-1, it could mean a few less teams in C-1 and a few more in C-2.
Pius and Hastings are the surprise developments. With Hastings, its boys numbers have been increasing and the Tigers were nine shy of making it to Class A in boys basketball this season. They could opt down to Class B and be ineligible for the playoffs only one year if the boy-only enrollment slipped below 425 next year.
Because of Pius leaving, my projections for Class A districts have been updated:
District 1: Millard South 808, Columbus 709, Lincoln East 709, Lincoln High 628, Lincoln North Star 615
District 2: Bellevue West 796, Gretna 721, Papillion-La Vista South 699, Bellevue East 635, Omaha South 604
District 3: Omaha Westside 782, Kearney 730, North Platte 696, Norfolk 656, Lincoln Northeast 603
District 4: Omaha Burke 771, Omaha Creighton Prep 749, Papillion-La Vista 694, Omaha Central 665, Omaha Benson 585
District 5: Elkhorn South 763, Grand Island 751, Omaha North 691, Fremont 666, Omaha Northwest 583
District 6: Lincoln Southeast 758, Millard West 756, Millard North 683, Lincoln Southwest 682, Omaha Bryan 569
Note that Millard South and Westside won’t have a Metro Conference team as a district opponent. District 2 is exclusively Metro and would feature a meeting of Bellevue West against Class A champion Gretna. If Hastings is Class A, it would be in District 6.
This weekend will be the release of our postseason honor teams in football.
On Saturday will be the All-Metro Conference and All-Omaha area teams, followed Sunday by the All-Nebraska and class-by-class all-state teams.
Conditions out of the newsroom’s control regarding deadlines make it imperative that the home team — win or lose — report highlights to us immediately after winter-sports contests, especially basketball games that start at 7 p.m. or later.
Game reports that reach us after 9:10 p.m. may not make the print edition.
Colleague Mike Patterson bested me again in our fall prediction contest. In volleyball vs. football, he picked four of the six volleyball state champions while I was three of seven in football.
I won’t change the process that has the football picks made before the Round of 16, while his volleyball predictions wait until the eight-team state tournaments. I’m coming back with a vengeance with basketball in March.