AISA announces reclassifications for 2016-2018

Published 4:59 pm Friday, April 8, 2016

Montgomery, Ala. – Two new athletic programs will compete in the Alabama Independent School Association for the first time in 2016-17 and are part of the new classification system released by the organization.

Emmanuel Christian School and North River Christian Academy will join the AISA athletic ranks as inaugural members during the 2016-18 classification period, giving the association 41 schools. They replace two schools that were classified in 2014-16 but were not under the new classification. One school closed and another elected not to compete in the AISA ranks in the upcoming two-year period.

The new classification will include 37 schools in football, 33 in volleyball and 41 in basketball, baseball and softball. Football includes three classifications based on the average daily membership (ADM) of boys in grades 8-11 during the 2015-16 school year, while volleyball has two classifications based on the ADM of girls in grades 8-11. All other sports are divided among three classifications for total ADM of grades 8-11 in 2015-16.

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Among the noteworthy football changes in 2016-18 are three schools that moved up from Class AA to AAA (Northside, Edgewood and Springwood) and three that moved down from AAA to AA (Kingwood, Autauga and Escambia). In addition, Marengo Academy went from AA to A and Jackson Academy and Cornerstone Christian moved up to AA from Class A.

The swap of Marengo and Jackson is by the slimmest of margins, with the 12 largest schools competing in AAA, the next 12 in AA and the remaining 13 in A. Those schools are then divided into Regions 1 and 2 in each classification in an attempt to reduce travel among the division competitors.

“Schools are assigned to their regions based on geographical location,” AISA athletic director Roddie Beck said. “We determine the mileage between each school within a region and schools are assigned based on the best possible overall scenario for each region to reduce travel as much as possible.”

The volleyball schools are divided into two classifications, with the largest 16 competing in AA and the remaining 17 in A. The biggest change in volleyball was Autauga and Kingwood dropping from AA to A.

In other sports, the top 13 are in AAA, the next 13 are in AA and the remaining 15 are in A. Lakeside, a AA program in football and volleyball, is AAA in everything else. Wilcox and Lowndes are Class A participants in football but AA in everything else.

The increased enrollment at Northside, which is now the second largest school in the organization, forced some schools down in classification, while the addition of Class A North River (and AA Emmanuel in everything other than football), forced some schools up.

The addition of the two schools also shuffled some regions as Sparta and Lowndes were in Region 2 and are now in Class A Region 1 because Marengo and Wilcox dropped from AA to A and North River joined the organization.

Emmanuel Christian of Dothan was founded in 1967 and was formerly in the Panhandle Christian Conference. The Warriors did not field a football program in 2015-16 and will not compete in football in 2016-17 but will be a Class AA program in the other AISA sports.

North River Christian of Tuscaloosa began as a ministry of Open Door Baptist Church and was formerly known as Open Door Christian before changing its name in 2009. The Chargers had competed in eight-man football in the past but will join the AISA as a Class A football program in 2016-17.

“They’re very familiar with a lot of our programs,” Beck said. “Not in football, but they’ve been playing Tuscaloosa Academy and some other (AISA) schools in other sports. We are excited to have both Emmanuel Christian and North River Christian join our athletic programs and we look forward to seeing them compete and continue to strengthen their athletic programs.”