The New Mexico Activities Association announced realignment for sports last week that will be in effect between 2022 and 2024.
For the three county schools, the realignment has some changes in store for football.
Each division in every sport is determined by enrollment average. The only sport that has more than five divisions is football with seven divisions.
The reason for seven divisions in football, according to the NMAA, is that “football requires many more student-athletes than any other sport.” NMAA feels that “enrollment directly impacts the number of students participating at each school.”
The reason for the move in classifications in football is due to a higher average enrollment, according to NMAA rule 4.1.2 in which “average 80-day enrollment count for the second and third years prior to the start of the new block and 40-day enrollment count just prior to the start of the new block.”
The threshold for a move up in classifications in football depends on the enrollment.
Those numbers are:
- 6, 8, or 11-man an enrollment between 0-99 students is required.
- 8 or 11-man requires an average enrollment of 100-129 students.
- 2A 11-man requires an average enrollment of 130-234 students.
- 3A requires an average enrollment of 235-549 students.
- 4A requires an average enrollment of 550-999 students.
- 5A requires an average enrollment of 1,000-1,449 students.
- 6A an average enrollment of 1,450 or more students.
Any school that exceeds the amount of average enrollment is moved up a class on the next block. In this case, the block is between 2022 and 2024.
The opposite occurs when a school drops below a threshold and is moved down a class.
The recently-crowned 5A football champions will be moving up a class to 6A beginning next season.
Los Lunas’ average enrollment during the time was more than the 1,450-plus threshold to stay in 5A, hence the move to 6A.
The new football district for Los Lunas will be District 5-6A, which includes Albuquerque High, Capital, Clovis and Santa Fe.
“Honestly, I am a little bummed we won’t get a chance to defend our 5A title,” Los Lunas head football coach Greg Henington said of the move. “I believe in our players and coaches, so there is no doubt we will get after it. However, it will be significantly more difficult.”
The district for the other sports that Los Lunas competes in will remain unchanged as they are now with members Albuquerque High, Capital, Rio Grande, Santa Fe and Manzano.
The Jaguars’ football team will stay in the same classification for this upcoming block. The difference will be district opponents.
The new district for the Jags will be District 3/5-4A, and will be with St. Pius, Silver City and Grants.
The Jaguars are coming off a season in which they went 7-5 and made the quarterfinals in the state playoffs.
All other sports at Valencia will also remain in their current district.
“The new districts for Valencia and classification for Los Lunas provides ours schools with new challenges,” Los Lunas Schools athletic director Wilson Holland said about the changes. “We believe we are up to all challenges and will continue to compete at the highest levels.
The Belen Eagles will be moving districts in football as well, but staying at the 5A classification.
Belen’s new district is 1/5-5A with other members being Highland, Miyamura and Piedra Vista.
Belen is coming off a 7-4 season that saw them reach the quarterfinals in the 5A state playoffs.
“Our new football district will bring two new teams and challenges for us,” Belen athletic director Joshua Grine said of the new district plans. “Overall, we look for to the opportunity and challenge.”
Adam Evarts is a graduate of the University of New Mexico where he studied journalism and history. He has lived in Valencia County most of his life. Adam covers sports for the Valencia County News-Bulletin, including prep competitions for the three local high schools, Senior Olympics, rodeo, Little League and more.