As the cards are dealt for a new season of high school athletics, the players might remain the same but the deck has certainly been shuffled.
Everyone connected with local prep sports – from players and coaches to friends, family and fans – will be adapting to new leagues, new travel schedules and a new set of conference foes.
The new age is due to the most recent reclassification by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The entity responsible for high school sports works to keep Washington’s six classifications roughly the same size; district administrators look to keep rivalries intact and make geographic sense of league rosters.
When everything shakes out, the top 17 percent of the Evergreen State’s schools find a home at the 4A level, with the same being true for 3A, 2A and 1A. The remaining 32 percent are split evenly between the 2B and 1B classifications.
Last year, three area teams – the Sumner High Spartans, Bonney Lake Panthers and Enumclaw Hornets – participated in the South Puget Sound League 3A. The neighboring White River Hornets are a bit smaller and competed in the SPSL 2A.
Things have changed dramatically. Here’s a look at how things will stand for at least the next two years.
Enumclaw joins the latest incarnation of the North Puget Sound League 4A. The Hornets will play in the Olympic Division, along with Auburn, Auburn Mountainview, Auburn Riverside, Decatur, Federal Way, Thomas Jefferson and Todd Beamer. Also added was an eight-team Cascade division.
Sumner moves to the South Puget Sound League 4A. The Spartans are one of nine teams and compete against Bellarmine Prep, Curtis, Emerald Ridge, Graham-Kapowsin, Olympia, Puyallup, Rogers and South Kitsap.
Bonney Lake is a member of the new Pierce County League 3A. Other league members are Bethel, Lakes, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, Spanaway Lake, Stadium and Wilson.
White River was part of perhaps the biggest shakeup, the transition of the South Puget Sound League 2A to a 16-team league with two divisions. The Hornets are in the Mountain Division along with Evergreen of Seattle, Fife, Foss, Foster, Franklin Pierce, Lindbergh and Washington.