Game changer: PHS moves up to a 5A classification


Story by Kaley Mussa, Reporter

Next year, football will be moving up from the 4A to the 5A division due to an increase in enrollment. Every year in the state of Kansas, a count is taken on Sept. 20 to determine the official enrollment count. 

“Every two years, [the school] does a count of how many kids you have in each grade. For football, you just count the number of freshmen, sophomores and juniors that you have. For other sports, [the school] does the count every year,” athletic director Jeff Staley said.

The reason behind this is scheduling.

“It just takes more to schedule football games, so they do a reclassification every two years instead of every year,” Staley said. “So, you can set a home and away with a school. We do a two-year contract. One game is away, and the other game is at home.”

You are going to run into good teams eventually at whatever classification you are at. Good football is played at every level

— Tom Nickelson

For the 2020 – 2021 school year, football will make the transition from 4A back to 5A.

“When we [counted] this past September, our classes [were] large enough again to be moved back over that threshold.”

When asked what the competition is like at the different classifications, golf coach Mary Packard said 6A is the most competitive.

“[6A schools] have the largest pool of players to choose from,” Packard said. “They get to pick who they choose, and who they turn away. Private schools are able to ‘cherry pick’ the best athletes from the area, even from schools that are way out of their district.”

According to Packard, public schools do not have the luxury of hand picking athletes.

“5A has the issue of private schools choosing how many students they want to keep for the year, keeping them out of the 6A classification,” Packard said. “Public schools take nearly everyone who asks to attend our schools.”

According to head football coach Tom Nickelson, despite the division change, the football team will continue to play similar teams as the year before.

“Since we are independent, our schedule is mainly 5A and 6A [schools] anyways. So, the regular season will not change. Postseason we will just be playing schools that we have been playing for the past 10 years. So, there is really not a lot that will change our schedule,” Nickelson said.

This will not change how the football team prepares for upcoming seasons.

“Good 4As can beat good 5As and vice versa. We aren’t going to look at it any differently,” Nickelson said. “You are going to run into good teams eventually at whatever classification you are at. Good football is played at every level.”