By Nate Olson | Photos of Jimmy Jones
The Arkansas Activities Association board met by Zoom call on Tuesday morning to approve football conferences for the 2022-24 football cycle.
The board revealed the new classification cycle entries at the summer workshop in June, so many programs knew they would be competing in different classifications, but not which leagues. The AAA also revealed the Competitive Equity Factor, which reclassified private schools based on their performance. The formula is calculated from the previous four years and can cause a school to move up or down in a ranking.
The new rule sent out reigning state champion Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Christian, who qualified for state championship game three of the past four years, 5A through 6A and reigning champion Harding Academy from 3A. to 4A. Defending runner-up Shiloh Christian drops from 4A to 5A. The rule worked the other way around for Little Rock Catholic and Baptist Prep, which weren’t as competitive, and they fell into classes 6A and 2A, respectively.
Little Rock Christian and PA will join their new member 6A Greenbrier in 6A-West with Greenwood, Lake Hamilton, Mountain Home, Russellville, Siloam Springs and Van Buren.
Benton moves from 6A West to the East and joins the new members of 6A Catholic, Jacksonville and Greene County Tech. The other members are all titular, including reigning 6A State Champion El Dorado, Marion, Searcy, Sheridan, Sylvan Hills and West Memphis.
In 7A, the only reshuffle was former 6A Class member Jonesboro who moved to the ultra-competitive 7A-Central. This now gives the league six members who are / were ranked in the SBLive Arkansas Top 25 rankings this fall.
Shiloh Christian has previously appeared in 5A and is moving again in 5A-West to join Alma, Clarksville, Farmington, Pea Ridge and Harrison. Dardanelle drops from 4-4A to join the league, and Shiloh’s former 1-4A rival Prairie Grove is also moving up.
Current members of 5A-Central are probably happy to be stripped of PA and Little Rock Christian powers, but the league won’t be easy with the addition of Vilonia and Morrilton of West and 6A’s Pine Bluff, as well as the champion of ‘State in title. Joe T. Robinson and Mills of 4A. Class 5A finalists White Hall and Beebe return with Maumelle. Winless Watson Chapel and new coach Maurice Moody come from the South.
Little Rock Parkview, which had eight players receiving NCAA Division I offers this season and landed the SBLive Arkansas Top 10, goes from 6A to 5A and takes over Watson Chapel in the South.
Harding Academy moves up to 2-4A to fight conference heavyweight Stuttgart with Lonoke.
1-4A is now wide open with the departure of Shiloh and Prairie Grove, who finished atop the league this season. Members of Class 3A Lincoln and Ozark enter the league.
The 7-4A, so powerful in recent years, plunges with the departure of Robinson. Waldron and Mena leave 4-4A and former 3A member Genoa Central goes up.
Former 7-4A members Haskell Harmony Grove and Bauxite are now in 4-4A. Little Rock Hall, who has played 8-a-side football this season, is also in that league along with Clinton, Dover, Lamar, Mayflower and Pottsville.
Fordyce has qualified for the Class 2A State Championship game for the past three seasons, but will now move up to Class 3A and face traditional rival Rison in the 6-3A.
Traditional power Booneville goes from 4-3A to 1-3A and will aim to challenge Charleston and Cedarville for supremacy there.
Baptist Prep goes from 3A to 2A and Episcopal Collegiate goes from 8 to 11 and will face the Eagles in 2-4A. Hazen, Bearden, Carlisle, England and Hampton round out this league.
You can see all the conferences here.