Juneau to join medium-schools division

The Soldotna football team cleaned up at the medium-schools all-state awards at the Alaska Football Coaches Association meeting Sunday.

The Stars also learned that similar dominance will be more difficult in the future.

Juneau-Douglas announced that it is joining the medium-schools division next season, according to SoHi coach Galen Brantley Jr.

The Crimson Bears won the large-schools title in 2005 and 2007, but the school has since been split in half due to the opening of Thunder Mountain.

Still, Juneau has 728 students, according to the Alaska School Activities Association, meaning it will be the second-largest school in the medium-schools division. Kodiak tops the division, which has an enrollment limit of 800, with 758.

Enrollments for Peninsula medium schools are SoHi at 521, Kenai at 542, Skyview at 375 and Homer at 429.

Juneau will join the Southeast Conference, allowing it to save money by playing Sitka, Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain.

Brantley Jr. also said that North Pole, with an enrollment of 730, may also be joining the Southeast Conference. He said that decision should be made in the next couple of weeks.

If the Patriots drop down, that gives the medium schools another program loaded with tradition. North Pole won the large-schools title in 2004.

“They want to be here, and I think it adds more legitimacy to our level to have a couple more quality teams to play,” Brantley Jr. said. “I think it will be good for football.”

The medium-schools division currently has nine teams, but six play in the Northern Lights Conference. A Southeast Conference team has yet to reach the title game in two years, meaning the medium-schools title so far has basically been like winning an NLC postseason tournament. Three of the four medium-schools playoff berths currently go to NLC schools.

With the arrival of Juneau and North Pole, all that would change.

“We’re just waiting until all the chips fall, then we’ll figure out the playoff system,” Brantley Jr. said.

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