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NIAA realignment unifies Class 3A South football

Beatty High School’s move from the Class 1A Southern League into the Central League and Pahrump Valley High School football being in a new one-league Class 3A South are among the highlights of the realignment plan approved Jan. 15 by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Board of Control at its regular meeting in Reno.

Alignments for 1A, 2A and fall sports for 3A, 4A and the new 5A were approved, as were state tournament formats. Winter and spring alignments for the larger schools will be done later this year.

The biggest news, in addition to creating Class 5A, is that the NIAA is aligning schools by sport for 3A, 4A and 5A, which is why you will find some schools, such as Durango and Del Sol, seeing their teams compete in different classes. So, while Pahrump Valley will have Del Sol as a league rival in girls soccer, the Dragons will compete in Class 4A in football and boys soccer.

“I think that the current plan is a good one,” said Jason Odegard, the PVHS athletic administrator. “They are addressing sports on an individual basis to develop competitive balance for students in all sports.”

The creation of a Class 5A indirectly affects Pahrump Valley, as the new classification creates room in Class 4A for some current 3A schools to move up in specific sports. In football, 2019 Sunset League champion Cheyenne, Del Sol, Sunrise Mountain and Mojave are moving into 4A, while Eldorado drops into 3A.

But for many people at PVHS, the best part of the football realignment is that the school’s traditional rivals — Boulder City, Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley — will be in the same league as the Trojans, with an eight-game league schedule.

“In terms of our football alignment, I like the idea of one league,” Odegard said. “It creates a situation in which all but one of our games affects postseason opportunities.”

That would not apply to all fall sports. While tennis, girls golf and cross country also would see Class 3A combined into one league, soccer and girls volleyball would maintain two leagues within Class 3A South. But there will be changes for Pahrump Valley, as some league foes will be moved up into Class 4A under the proposed alignment.

In girls volleyball, 2019 Sunset League champion Mojave and Western, which took the league’s No. 2 seed into the postseason, would move to the Class 4A Mountain League along with Del Sol and Valley. Pahrump Valley would see a new-look Class 3A Mountain League with Boulder City, SLAM Academy, Equipo Academy and Somerset-Sky Pointe. The new 3A Desert League would include Moapa Valley, Virgin Valley, Somerset Losee, Cheyenne and Basic, which would move down from Class 4A.

The 2019 Sunset League champion Pahrump Valley girls soccer team would remain in Class 3A, but second-place Western and third-place Valley would move up to 4A. The Trojans, along with Equipo and Del Sol, would be in the new Class 3A Mountain League with Boulder City, SLAM Academy and Durango.

“We have Boulder City on our side of the lineup, which was great competition this past year,” Trojans girls soccer coach Julie Carrington said. “It will definitely be a challenging, competitive year with the new teams, but with half of our starting team seniors I believe they are ready for the challenge.”

Durango is an excellent example of the flexibility the NIAA can employ under its new guidelines. The Trailblazers competed in the 4A Desert League this season, going 1-9-2 in girls soccer and 5-6-1 in boys. The new alignment shifts the Durango boys up to Class 5A while the girls would slide into 3A.

“With more challenging teams this year, it will keep the ladies in shape for the end-of-year playoffs,” Carrington added.

For boys soccer, a similar exodus from 3A would occur, with Sunset League champion Western, Valley, Del Sol and Mojave moving to 4A. Boulder City, SLAM Academy, Equipo and Somerset Sky Pointe would join Pahrump Valley in the 3A Mountain League.

“I’m happy with the teams,” Pahrump Valley coach Chris Roberts said. “It should be competitive for the most part.”

Roberts indicated he will have to withhold a final opinion until the schedule is decided. Issues such as a full round-robin, mandated crossovers and the like have yet to be decided.

“There are four different versions they are voting on,” Roberts said.

Meanwhile, Beatty’s entire athletic program will see a dramatic change under the Class 1A alignment. The Hornets are moving from the Southern League to the Central, where they will be teamed with Nye County rivals Tonopah and Round Mountain. In several sports, Pahranagat Valley is also making the move, while Spring Mountain is staying in the Southern League.

“I’m not real happy about all the travel we will have to do again, but that’s part of it,” Beatty athletic director Leo Verzilli said. “It will be a tough league, and we still will schedule team from the south to fill our schedule.”

Making it a bit easier on the Hornets is that Coleville and Smith Valley, in the Central League this year, are moving to the West, cutting out two of the longer trips. And while no alignment plan could please everybody, Odegard thinks aligning each sport individually is a positive move.

“We will see in a couple of years if this new system has the desired effect, but I feel that we are moving in a good direction as a state,” he said.

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