Eckl: Nevada’s realignment system successful in first season

Scheduling, not so much

Douglas High’s Cole Smalley lunges to make a shoe-string tackle against North Valleys Friday night in the Class 5A Div. III North regional semifinals. Smalley ended the 47-0 win with a pair of sacks and a blocked punt.

Douglas High’s Cole Smalley lunges to make a shoe-string tackle against North Valleys Friday night in the Class 5A Div. III North regional semifinals. Smalley ended the 47-0 win with a pair of sacks and a blocked punt.
Photo by Ron Harpin.

I will touch on a few things in this column, but I have to start with the first season under the realignment format constructed by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

To put it simply, it worked. It worked really well.

Folks in Las Vegas may not see it the same way, but for competitive balance in the North it was outstanding.

Realignment worked

The NIAA has earned a lot of its criticism this fall, but one area it should revel in is the first year of its realignment system.

Sure, Bishop Gorman steamrolled its way to another football state championship, but the creation of Class 5A Divisions II and III allowed other schools to dream about a state title.

Bishop Manogue was crushed last year – by Gorman – in the Class 5A state title game, 70-6.

No one wanted or needed to see a rematch.

This season, coach Ernie Howren and the Miners were able to get a state title after taking down Faith Lutheran, 40-21.

Galena and Douglas both played for a spot in the Division III state title game before the Grizzlies fell, 21-14, to Legacy.

Competitive playoff games were desperately needed across the state and that was accomplished.

You can’t tell me Douglas wouldn’t have been competitive in the old nine-team Class 5A format, but they certainly wouldn’t have gone 10-2 and rejuvenated the entire program after back-to-back 1-9 seasons.

Galena likely feels the same way.

There were still plenty of blowouts in the regular season, but that wasn’t going to change overnight.

The first fix had to be for postseason contests and I have to commend the NIAA and Donnie Nelson for getting it right – even if the long process to find a solution for football was maddening.

Northern Nevada girls soccer moved down to Class 4A and McQueen took advantage, winning the program’s first state title in 20 years.

The Lancers shut out two Vegas programs to earn their hardware.

On the boys soccer side, Northern Nevada stayed in Class 5A and both state semifinalists – Sparks and Hug – were worked over by Las Vegas teams.

Coronado bested Sparks, 4-2, before winning the state title while Palo Verde routed Hug, 5-0.

Both games were played at Carson High School.

On its face, a move down to Class 4A may be in the North’s best interest for boys soccer moving forward.

In the north, girls golf moved its largest class to 4A where the top three teams at the state tournament were all from Northern Nevada.

Could they compete with Las Vegas’ 5A? Maybe, but not every solution was going to hit the nail on the head in year one.

There was no realignment for the largest cross country class, but the Carson High girls cross country team may be turning into Bishop Gorman at this rate.

The NIAA may have to consider moving the Senators into their own division much like the Gaels’ football team because nobody could hang with Carson this fall.

That’s just a dash of sarcasm, but in actuality Carson’s girls cross country team may be the most dominant team in any fall sport outside of Gorman football.

Scheduling snafus

While realignment was a rousing success for postseason competitive balance, we still have winter and spring sports to see how the rest of the landscape shakes out.

I, for one, hope that some of the scheduling issues from the fall get cleaned up.

It was incredibly inconvenient for schools to have games moved four or more times this fall, like what happened with Carson girls soccer and its final game against Bishop Manogue.

After being moved twice, the game was rescheduled a third time at the exact same time as Carson’s playoff football game against North Valleys, prompting the soccer game to be moved a fourth time.

That is absurd and totally avoidable.

There may be some information I’m not privy too in regard to postseason events, but not having dates and times of state title games announced until the week they are played is baffling.

How are schools supposed to schedule busing? We know there is a massive shortage already forcing teams to get to games hours in advance only to sit and wait.

How are parents supposed to plan to attend?

That’s a mess in my eyes and frankly should be a straightforward fix. No need to call together the realignment committee to solve this problem.

Here’s hoping the scheduling in the winter and spring is more put together.

We all know that winter storms will only cause more headaches so it’ll be best to avoid simple scheduling mistakes.

The snow will only force more.


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