By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
The Hwy. 15 Rivalry just got bigger.
New Albany and Ripley will no longer get to face off in the football season opener but the matchup became more important as both teams will now be in the same division.
The Mississippi High School Activities Association, as expected, released its 2013-2015 reclassification list early Friday.
One team moving up was Ripley, from Class 3A to 4A. Schools in the state’s six classes are placed based on enrollment in grades 9-through-12. Schools have five days to appeal.
“It was already a big deal for us and now it puts even more at stake,” said New Albany coach Ron Price. “It’s been our opening game, so we hate to lose that aspect of it, but it becomes a very important football game with it being a district game, too.”
North Pontotoc goes from one of the state’s smallest Class 4A schools to one of the largest 3As. The Vikings will play in 1-3A.
“It’s going to help us on the money side more than anything else,” North football coach Brian Sutton said. “We’ve played in that division before and it’s good football. We were doing a lot of traveling.”
Division 2-3A has only one remaining member, Water Valley. Three of the six former teams – Aberdeen, Nettleton and South Pontotoc join Louisville and Kemper County in 4-3A. Mantachie moved down to a new look 1-2A in a division that lost Bruce, Calhoun City and Okolona to a strong 4-2A with Ackerman, Eupora and East Webster.
Plenty of teams stayed in their class but switched divisions – which affects more than football.
There was a change for Tupelo baseball. The Golden Wave remain in 2-6A but trade Columbus for Class 5A North champion Hernando.
Tupelo Christian will no longer be in a football division, going independent. The school’s other sports will compete in 4-1A.
Smithville has won the last 1A two slow-pitch titles and last season’s fast-pitch championship and now has a Monroe County rival to deal with, as Class 2A slow-pitch champion Hamilton moves to Division 4-1A.
“We’ll have two state champions in the same division in slow pitch. That’ll be interesting, and I think it will help us in football,” Hamilton slow-pitch and baseball coach Lewis Earnest said.