The New Mexico Activities Association voted unanimously to approve the classifications and districts for the 2020-2022 block last Wednesday, which will bring with it some major changes to Valencia County Preps.
Beginning next fall, Los Lunas High School will compete in 5A in every sport.
The Tiger football team will remain in 5A, where it has competed during the current cycle, while all other sports will move up from 4A.
The Tigers will compete in District 5/5A in every sport except for football along with Albuquerque High, Capital, Manzano, Rio Grande and Santa Fe.
In football, the district will be similar to what it has been during the current cycle as the three holdovers, LLHS, Belen and Valley will be joined by Del Norte and Highland to create a five team district.
Valencia will move down in football to 4A due to enrollment dropping below an average of 1,000 students during this cycle.
The size of the Jaguar football program should fit better at the 4A level, as the team often was overmatched and undersized against 5A opponents this season.
The Jaguars will compete in a district with St. Pius X, Albuquerque Academy, Bernalillo and Grants.
VHS played a pair of games against 4A programs this season, going 0-2 with losses to Bloomfield and Moriarty.
Academy is also new to the district after competing as an independent in the last cycle, so the Chargers and Jaguars take the place of Espanola Valley, Pojoquae, and Taos.
Those three schools will compete with Moriarity in District 2.
All of the Jaguars other athletic teams will remain in 4A as well and continue to compete in District 5/4A with Belen, Grants, St. Pius and now Highland as well, as the Hornets take the place of Los Lunas.
HHS is a familiar opponent for all of the VC schools and one that has been a frequent face on non-district schedules in all sports.
Belen is the only area school that won’t see any changes to its status, as it will remain 5A for football and 4A for everything else.
The NMAA realigns the classifications and districts every two years based on average enrollment numbers from a school’s 80 day count for the second and third years as well as the 40 day count for the current school year.
Schools are able to file petitions to have their district or class changed, which is typically done on the basis of travel, but none of the Valencia County schools filed protests, which were heard on Wednesday.
In the past, county schools had protested after being put in a district with schools in the southern half of the state.
The Tigers new district sets up particularly intriguing matchups in boys soccer, as now the defending 4A and 5A state champions, Los Lunas and Albuquerque High, will meet twice a year.
The Bulldogs went undefeated last year en route to their title and were ranked among the top 25 teams in the Rocky Mountain region by USA Today.
The changes present a more challenging schedule for LLHS in all of the sports that are moving up, though many of the Tiger programs have been scheduling 5A schools during non-district play anyway.