Still the same: ASAA solidifies football's NLC

Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Northern Lights Conference will remain a six-school league in football well into the future thanks to a recent vote by the state activities association.

The Alaska School Activities Association Board of Directors voted 8-0 this week to change the maximum enrollment for small-schools football programs from 400 to 325, a move that solidifies the standing of Skyview and Homer as NLC teams.

Under the new alignment, the only league in small-schools football will be the Great Land Conference. Nikiski, with a projected enrollment of 262 for 2011-12, will remain in the Great Land. The Southeast Conference -- made up of Thunder Mountain, Sitka and Ketchikan -- and the NLC will make up a new division of medium-sized schools.

Gary Matthews, the association's executive director, said preliminary enrollment numbers from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development for the 2011-12 school year put Homer's enrollment at 399 and Skyview's at 347 -- below the previous requirement for NLC squads. Schools are given the chance to opt up if they fall below the classification requirements for football, meaning Skyview and Homer could have remained in the NLC without the vote.

"We know we can be competitive and give ourselves a chance to be super successful," Pomerleau said, adding Skyview is content to stay put. "We're not in a 'poor-me' position after last year when we made the playoffs."

Small-schools football now includes programs with 325 students or fewer. A newly created medium-range classification includes programs between 326 and 800. Large-schools football encompasses schools with 801 students or more.

The NLC will remain a six-team conference, with Homer and Skyview being joined by Soldotna, Kenai Central, Kodiak and Houston.

Houston is projected to have an enrollment of 388 in 2011-12 and won't move conferences, Matthews said.

If Skyview or Homer were to move to the Great Land, both schools would face increased travel. The Great Land includes Seward and Nikiski, but the remaining schools aren't on the Kenai Peninsula.

"Instead of having to play Delta, Valdez and Eielson, they will be able to stay on the Peninsula," said Dan Michael, an ASAA board member who represents Region III, of Homer and Skyview.

Sitka's enrollment for 2011-12 is projected to be 373, Matthews said, while Thunder Mountain (643) and Ketchikan (541) are much larger.

The board has yet to determine a location for the state playoffs. That decision is expected to be made by April, Michaels said.

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