Analysis: From New Classifications To New Conferences

With the Arkansas Activities Association released the classification reports for the 2018-20 cycle, the next question on people’s minds will be how does this affect the conferences in upcoming years.

Here’s one man’s shot in the dark on how things will shape up, under the AAA’s current classification system. The following alignments are for football only.

Class 7A 

No schools moved in or out, so there will be no changes.

Class 6A

Say hello to newcomer Sylvan Hills, and say goodbye to Texarkana.

With this change, I think it will be safe to say that Little Rock Hall will move to the 6A-West and takes Texarkana’s spot, while Sylvan Hills will assume Hall’s spot in the 6A-East.

What could cause a bigger change is the Pulaski Academy factor. Rumors have surfaced that the Little Rock private school will consider moving up another classification, so what if this takes place?

The team that will be asked to move down is Greenwood, currently the smallest Class 6A school. Pulaski Academy would then take Greenwood’s spot in the 6A-West.

Class 5A

The changes in this class are the additions of Huntsville and Texarkana, while Sylvan Hills and Little Rock Mills will head in opposite directions. So here’s what things might look like:

East — No schools will change in this conference.

West — With Huntsville now entering the picture, it finds a spot in this conference while Maumelle will move on over to the Central.

South — Texarkana moves in and causes somebody to move out, but which school will it be? Look for a package deal that moves White Hall and Watson Chapel to the Central, while Little Rock McClellan goes to the South.

Central — Maumelle assumes a spot here, and I foresee Watson Chapel and White Hall moving here in exchange for Little Rock McClellan.

Once again, what if Pulaski Academy decides to move up to Class 6A and gives Greenwood a shot at moving down? If so, Greenwood moves into the 5A-West and causes Vilonia to move to the Central.

Class 4A

Moving into this class is Little Rock Mills from 5A and Elkins, Bald Knob, Rivercrest, Green Forest and Haskell Harmony Grove from 3A, while making their departures are Huntsville to 5A and West Fork, Booneville, Pine Bluff Dollarway, Harrisburg and Baptist Prep to 3A.

4A-1 — Somebody from Northwest Arkansas is going to be unhappy, and its likely to be Elkins. Green Forest, based on geographical location, will get Huntsville’s spot in this conference. That means Elkins will be headed south to the 4A-4.

4A-2 — Look for Bald Knob to head here and take over the vacancy left by Baptist Prep, while Little Rock Mills joins this conference in the place of Stuttgart, which moves south to the 4A-8.

4A-3 — This will be another quick fix. So long Harrisburg, and hello Rivercrest.

4A-4 — This one is a little trickier. Elkins will assume the West Fork vacancy, but who takes over for Booneville?  It’s probably going to be Pulaski Robinson — with Mena (which is actually closer) or Fountain Lake as a wild card — but this league will be more spread out, nonetheless.

4A-7 — Haskell Harmony Grove will move into this conference, but who moves out? Again, the likely choice is Pulaski Robinson but Mena  could be a possibility.

4A-8 — Stuttgart will likely head south and take over for Pine Bluff Dollarway in this situation.

Class 3A

The schools entering this picture are West Fork, Booneville, Pine Bluff Dollarway, Harrisburg and Baptist Prep from 4A and Danville, Rison, Camden Harmony Grove and Palestine-Wheatley from 2A. The schools leaving are Elkins, Bald Knob, Rivercrest, Green Forest and Haskell Harmony Grove to 4A and Marianna, Fordyce, Gurdon and Yellville-Summit to 2A.

If there is ever a need for an overhaul in this classification, this is it. Here’s how I think it should be:

3A-1 — It loses Green Forest and Yellville-Summit, so it’s time for this conference to quit going way out east and go more south. Let it be more like Greenland, West Fork, Cedarville, Booneville, Mansfield, Charleston, Paris and Lamar.

3A-2 — This conference could have a new look with Clinton, Mountain View, Marshall, Melbourne, Rose Bud, Newport, Harding Academy and Cedar Ridge.

3A-3 — This conference just needs a minor adjustment, with Harrisburg taking over for Rivercrest.

3A-4 — I really like a setup here with Jessieville, Atkins, Danville, Two Rivers, Perryville, Mayflower, LR Episcopal and Baptist Prep.

3A-5 — Genoa Central and Fouke have longed to be in this conference instead of its journeys across the state, and they should get their wish this time around. They will be joined by another newcomer — Camden Harmony Grove — and they will take over for Jessieville, Gurdon and Haskell Harmony Grove.

3A-6 — Rison will take over Fordyce’s spot in this conference, while Barton and Pine Bluff Dollarway move in to take over the spots vacated by Fouke and Genoa Central.

One big exception I could foresee here is Yellville-Summit petitioning the AAA to remain a Class 3A school because it’s so isolated from other 2A schools. If that is the case, the school with the first chance to move down is Horatio.

If this is the case, Yellville-Summit would go to the 3A-2, then Rose Bud moves to the 3A-4 and Jessieville returns to the 3A-5 to fill Horatio’s vacancy.

Class 2A

Marianna — which was a big school as late as 1990 —  Fordyce, Gurdon and Yellville-Summit fall to this classification, while Danville, Palestine-Wheatley, Camden Harmony Grove and Rison head to 3A.
This will also cause some significant changes in some conferences, but not all. The biggest question is where will Yellville-Summit go because it’s really isolated from any other 2A school, but here it goes.

2A-3 — No changes here.

2A-4 — With Danville moving out, look for Yellville-Summit to be put here, but I don’t like the idea of a trip from there to Hackett.

2A-5 — No big changes here.

2A-6 — This will be a simple fix because Marianna can take over the spot vacated by Palestine-Wheatley.

2A-7 — Gurdon will take over the spot vacated by Lafayette County, who will move over the 2A-8.

2A-8 — Rison takes over Fordyce’s spot, while Lafayette County will assume the spot for Camden Harmony Grove.

Again, what if Yellville-Summit does petition the AAA to remain in Class 3A, which gives Horatio the option to move down to 2A? Here’s what I think might happen:

2A-4 — Hector will return to the conference after a two-year hiatus and take over Danville’s spot.

2A-5 — If Hector moves out of this conference, look for Mountain Pine to be inserted in Hector’s spot.

2A-7 — Horatio would fill the void left by Mountain Pine.

There you have it. Basketball alignments may come later, as well as the rumor of a new classification alignment and what it could bring. Stay tuned.

Henry Apple

Henry Apple

Henry Apple is a veteran sports reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. His primary beat is Bentonville and Bentonville West, as well as topics that include state schools and the Arkansas Activities Association. During the spring, he handles high school track in Northwest Arkansas. He is a lifelong Arkansas resident.
Henry Apple

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2 thoughts on “Analysis: From New Classifications To New Conferences”

  1. Mills is not “Little Rock” Mills
    Robinson is not “pulaski” Robinson. They are “Mills” and “Robinson”. Their District has distributed this wide and far yet the reference continues. You seemed to have picked up the ark bapt to bapt prep thing so why not this change?

    1. Maybe by you, Derek — an employee of the Pulaski County Special School District, judging on your email address — they are known as Mills and Robinson (by the way, I noticed you said ‘their district’ and you work for the same district).
      But I have known it as Pulaski Robinson since it played my alma mater back in the early 1980s, and I’ve known it as Little Rock Mills since I covered games at that school back in the mid-1980s.

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