The TSSAA has set its football classes. Warren County will remain in the new “Super 32” 6A class starting in the 2015-16 school year.
New class alignment began in August when the TSSAA Board of Control approved the creation of the “Super 32” class – which would be based on school enrollment. Warren County was notified last week it ranked 25th in the state in enrollment, leading to the Pioneers being grouped with schools surrounding the state’s largest cities.
The only chance for Warren County to drop to 5A was several schools to request to play 6A by Wednesday’s deadline. Only Maryville made the move.
With the Rebels – a powerhouse and winner of three of the last four 6A state titles – moving up, the TSSAA started at the bottom of the 32 schools in terms of enrollment and began asking schools if they would move down.
It only took one phone call.
LeVergne, with an enrollment of 1,723 students, ranked 32nd and had the first option to move down. The school accepted the move, leaving the rest of the field of 31 teams set for the next two years.
Fellow District 6-AAA squad Cookeville will also move to the “Super 32” class, as will former district rival Coffee County. Other Midstate schools include Blackman, Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Oakland, Riverdale, Siegel, Smyrna and Wilson Central.
Knowing the plans could force a move into a much stronger district – early projections showed Warren County playing several Murfreesboro schools next season – local fans began to call the TSSAA office in hopes of rallying officials to drop the Pioneers. A petition was even circulated and sent to TSSAA officials.
TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress did receive the petition, but concluded enrollment numbers would be the deciding factor.
“We did receive a copy of the petition. The board of Control had already approved the plan when it was submitted to our office,” said Childress. “However, the Board does not set classification based on success factor. It is based on enrollment.”
Assistant Executive Director Matthew Gillespie also pointed to enrollment numbers when asked if competitive balance was a consideration when deciding on new classifications.
“Classification and where schools fall is not based on how successful programs are,” said Gillespie. “It is based on enrollment figures and geography. In the big picture, one could argue the number of classes there are is in place to give more schools an opportunity for competitiveness and a chance at a championship with six classes, compared to five classes (as it was for a while) and three class before that. The number of schools has not drastically changed over the years.”
Only football will be affected by the move. All other WCHS sports will remain in District 6-AAA for the next two school years. Currently, Warren County competes in district play against Cookeville, White County, Cumberland County, Stone Memorial and Rhea County.