Reclassification shakes up Alaska high school football divisions

Football field.
Football field.(Associated Press)
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:48 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska high school football season is underway, and teams across the state have started practice with games next week. The 2021 prep football season will look different with the Alaska School Activities Association reclassifying schools and restructuring certain conferences.

The Cook Inlet Conference will be the lone Division I conference with eight teams, with every team qualifying for the single-elimination state tournament, according to a list of reorganized conferences from ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland. The conference added Juneau Unified and Colony High School to the existing six other Anchorage School District high schools in the conference.

For years, Soldotna High School dominated Division II, winning eight straight state championships. This season the Stars will have more competition with the addition of Chugiak High School and Wasilla High School to the Division II ranks. The two high schools were reclassified from Division I due to enrollment and competitiveness, according to ASAA.

The nine-team Division II classification will be split into the Northern Lights and Railbelt Conferences. Each conference will have two state tournament berths. Chugiak, Eagle River, Palmer, Soldotna and Wasilla make up the Northern Lights, while the Railbelt will feature Kodiak, Lathrop, North Pole and West Valley.

The state’s smallest group of schools saw a shakeup as well with Kenai Central High School moving from Division II to Division III due to enrollment size. Division III will be split into two conferences. The Denali Conference will receive one berth to the state tournament while the Mid Alaska Conference will receive three.

Teams in the Denali Conference include Ben Eielson, Monroe Catholic, Nikiski, Seward and Valdez. The Mid Alaska Conference has Barrow High School, Homer, Houston, Kenai Central and Redington.

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