The new fall high school sports season begins in just a few weeks, and last spring the Nevada Interscholastic Association (NIAA) voted not to divide the larger members of the NIAA in Clark County into a new 5A classification.

Silverado principal Jaime Ditto expressed concerns earlier, noting, “We unanimously believe—and there are 32 principals now that believe—there shouldn’t be a 5A right now, that we don’t have enough accurate data, that the system we have and the rubric that we have really is flawed and broken.”

After listening to a presentation by a contingent of Clark County school district principals, the NIAA realignment committee, meeting in Reno, voted 7-2 to accept the proposal of the principals and not create a new 5A league for football for 2018-2020. Only Clark County schools would have been affected. The possibility was left open for discussing the issue for the 2020-21 school year.

Regarding 2018 for Class 2A and 1A, Assistant NIAA Director Donnie Nelson said no changes will be made in the 2A other than adding Coral Academy of Reno to the North, while the South division will be able to add charter schools that later might qualify for 2A status.

Class 1A is being divided again into four regions, a Northern East and West, as has existed, and a restructured Southern region, to have a Central league and South league. That alignment was used before, but was combined into just one South league in 2008.

Two big changes in Class 1A for 2018-2020 will move Smith Valley, Coleville, and Mineral County from the Northwest league to the Central league in the South region.

For football in the North, the 1A West league will include Excel Christian (Sparks), Pyramid Lake, Sierra Lutheran (Carson City), Virginia City, and Whittell.

The 1A East league will have Carlin, Eureka, Independence (Elko), McDermitt, Owyhee, and Wells. Jackpot does not play football, but does play volleyball and basketball.

In the South region, the new Central league alignment includes Coleville, Round Mountain, Mineral County, Tonopah, and Smith Valley. The South league will have Beatty, Beaver Dam, Green Valley Christian (Henderson), Indian Springs, Pahranagat Valley, Sandy Valley, and Spring Mountain. However, Sandy Valley is not fielding a football team this year.

Two other 1A Las Vegas schools, Liberty Baptist and Word of Life, do not play football. Once approved for full membership, Oasis Academy (Fallon) will be in the 1A Central league for basketball and volleyball.

The new alignments will be the same for volleyball and basketball. Changes for baseball and softball, if any, will be decided later.

Nelson explained the reasons for 1A going to the four divisions was “because of travel and facilitating equal leagues. Also, the West was getting so big. Eleven schools there, only five in the East, and they weren’t getting playoff representation, plus we are likely to have at least nine teams in the South.”

Playoff structures in Class 1A are going to change also, Nelson said. “It won’t always be Central versus South, as it was 10 years or so ago. Nor will it be like it had been, just a simple North and South region.”

He added, “What I can see happening in Class 1A in the first rounds of the playoffs, although I’m not sure it will, is that one year you could have the West play the East in a particular sport, and the South play the Central. But the next year, you might have the Northwest play the Central and the South play the Northeast.”

In the 1A playoff format published just last month, the first round will match East vs. West and Central vs. South. The semifinal games will be held at a neutral site, yet to be determined. The state finals will be in the South this year, unless it is between two teams from the North Division.