ADs advance plans
for new 4A league
WRHS to play nine grid games
By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer
Athletic directors from Fourth and Fifth
district high schools met last Wednesday in Pocatello to push along plans for a
new seven-team conference in the 4A student population class.
They made decisions that will be submitted
to the Idaho High School Activities Association (IHSAA) board of directors for a
first reading at the board’s December meeting in Boise. The IHSAA is the
governing body of Gem State high school athletics.
For Hailey’s Wood River High School, the
new conference will be a huge challenge in terms of moving up a level in
competition. Also, the Wolverine football team will be playing nine games
instead of eight next fall.
Travel will be much heavier for Wood
River, which will be traveling three hours one way to Pocatello and
four-and-a-half hours one way to Preston. Right now, Wood River’s longest trips
are about four hours round trip.
Wood River, moving up from 3A to 4A
starting with the 2004-05 season, will be a member of the seven-team 4A
Fourth/Fifth District division in south-central and southeast Idaho.
Other 4A teams are Jerome, Burley, Minico
of Rupert, Pocatello, Century of Pocatello and Preston. Like Wood River, Preston
is moving up from 3A to 4A for the 2004-06 cycle. Minico has moved from 5A to
Wood River athletic director Ron Martinez,
with support from Jerome, floated a proposal to have the seven 4A schools split
into two divisions—one with Jerome, Burley, Minico and Wood River, and the other
with Pocatello, Century and Preston.
Under the proposal, designed to lessen
travel for teams like Wood River, Jerome and Preston, the top two teams in each
division would have clashed in first vs. second place playoffs at the end of the
season to determine state berths, Martinez said.
Such a proposal, in the case of football,
would have enabled Wood River to play league games against Jerome, Burley and
Minico while maintaining traditional grid rivalries with schools like Buhl and
However, Martinez’s proposal didn’t fly
with the athletic directors.
For one thing, four of the schools,
Burley, Minico, Pocatello and Century, are within an 80-mile driving distance of
each other. Another attraction for a seven-team league was getting 2.5 state
playoff berths in each sport except football, Martinez said.
Wood River will play six football games
against its league opponents next fall. Non-conference games that Martinez has
added to fill out the required nine-game schedule are two Idaho Falls 4A
schools—Hillcrest and Bonneville—and Mountain Home.
Because of the nine-game grid slate, the
new conference will be granted only two state football berths because the
additional week of games rules out an inter-district playoff game needed to
determine the winner of the half playoff berth, Martinez said.
Other sports in the Fourth/Fifth districts
will have 2.5 state berths.
One concession that Wood River got from
the recent athletic director meeting had to do with the long travel distances.
Preston and Wood River will try to schedule as many Saturday games as possible
to help lessen the impact of the four-and-a-half hour travel distance, according
No decision was made on the name of the
new seven-team conference, which in recent years has been called the Great Basin
These are the other 4A schools in southern
Sixth District—Bonneville, Blackfoot,
Hillcrest, Madison and Rigby.
Third District—Bishop Kelly, Caldwell,
Emmett, Kuna, Mountain Home, Vallivue of Caldwell, Nampa and Skyview. Nampa and
Skyview have successfully petitioned down from 5A to 4A to put the Third
District at eight teams next fall.