Time is running out for Maryville High School to decide whether or not to keep its football program in Class 6A next season.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association released its classification projections for the 2015-16 football season last Tuesday. Maryville, the reignging Class 6A champion, was slotted for 5A, and has until Wendesday to make a request to the TSSAA to move up.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” Maryville coach George Quarles said Tuesday night. “People ask us one minute, we’re going to stay in 5A. The next day, we’re going to be in 6A.
“I know a lot of teams are waiting to see what we’re doing.”
The TSSAA will release an updated classifcation outlook following Wednesday’s deadline. Quarles said last week that moving to Class 6A was once the only option for Maryville.
But last week’s projections, which were based on enrollment and included a revamped 32-team Class 6A, listed only four teams from the Knoxville area in the largest class (Jefferson County, Hardin Valley, Bearden and William Blount).
That means if Maryville makes the jump, it will likely have to travel to Kingsport and Cookeville within its new region. That means increased travel, which leads to a budget strain.
“We’ll sit down tomorrow and talk and weigh the pros and cons,” Quarles said. “Clearly the con is the travel if we move up. The pro is if we go to 6A, it’s the best competition and the biggest schools. And I can make an argument for the 5A schools. Plus, there’s uncertainty on the regions in 5A.”
The TSSAA won’t release a region breakdown until after classifications are set. In Class 6A, region outlines have already been identified to some extent. There will be four regions across the state with eight teams in each.
In Classes 1A-5A, deciphering region alignments becomes far more tedious.
There will be eight regions, but since the number of schools in each class varies, there could be some regions with six teams, others with seven or eight and potentially some with five.
“I think if they said, ‘This will be the teams,’ it would be easier,” Quarles said.
A smaller region would require more non-region scheduling, which has been tedious for powerhouses like Maryville and Alcoa under the current format.
It should be easier under the new structure next year, though, when region win-loss records determine playoff berths in the six classifications. Currently, teams are divided into three classes during the regular season, then expanded to six in the playoffs.
That means playing a team like Alcoa or Maryville out of region won’t affect a school’s playoff hopes in 2015-16.