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Prep sports: Successful schools speak out Wednesday against realignment proposal

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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Duchesne's Daniel Hanberg runs the ball as Layton Christian hosts Duchesne, high school football in Layton Thursday August 21, 2014.

By Tom Wharton

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Aug 27 2014 11:27PM
Updated Aug 27, 2014 11:28PM

Midvale • Administrators from Provo and Duchesne, whose football teams could be moved up a classification under a proposed success-based high school realignment formula, spoke out against it in a public hearing Wednesday night.

The Utah High School Activities Association Board of Trustees will vote Thursday on the formula, which could add or subtract up to 15 percent of student enrollment figures that will determine which of six football classifications a school will be placed into.

Of the small group who addressed the board at the UHSAA headquarters Wednesday night, all but two spoke against the proposal.

"We support the association’s efforts to level the playing field," said Timpview High principal Todd McKee, whose highly successful 4A football team might be classified 5A under the formula. "But the current path is the wrong path. …It took two years to come with a change in the wrestling tournament over the format. But, over the summer, this was a substantial classification change…Slow the process."

McKee said the program did not address the true factors of football success that include open enrollment, socioeconomics, successful youth programs, and athletic specializations.

He said that changing to 5A would increase his school’s travel costs, eliminate natural cross-town rivalries and result in student-athletes having more time out of class.

Timpview parent Evan Schmutz, Provo School District Board member McKay Jensen and Provo School District superintendent Keith Rittel offered similar arguments.

Duchesne principal Stan Young, whose school has won four straight state football titles and has a state record 48-game winning streak, said his program could be punished for being successful.

"There is no question we would be moved up in this formula," he said. "It would kill our sophomore and freshmen programs."

Parowan High principal Roy Matthews and athletic director Alana Benson did not feel strongly about the football-only success formula. Matthews lobbied to be moved from 2A, where it is one of the smallest schools, into 1A, where it would be among the largest.

"We cannot compete where we are," said Benson. "But I don’t think schools that have a great program should be forced into another realm. But if they they are, they shouldn’t be afraid. At the bottom end, you can can still have a lot of success."

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