You’d think Pioneer Junior-Senior High School’s Mike Johnson might favor the “success factor” rule announced last year by the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
At the time, Johnson’s football team had finished three straight seasons ranked No. 2 in Class A, and every time, the Panthers had been eliminated from the tournament during the sectional by eventual state champion Lafayette Central Catholic.
Under the new rule, because Central Catholic repeated as state champion last season, the school automatically moves up this fall to Class 2A, leaving the path to a state championship open to other Class A teams, such as Pioneer.
Johnson, though, says he doesn’t want some rule change to take Pioneer’s toughest opponent out of the way. He wants to knock off that opponent on the football field.
You have to admire that kind of determination. There’s something admirable about the desire to match up against the best.
It’s the same feeling that fed support for the single-class basketball tournament. We all love to cheer for the Milans of the world to knock off a powerhouse like Muncie Central.
The fact is, though, that single-class basketball is likely gone forever.
In response to prodding from the Legislature, the IHSAA held town meetings across the state last year to talk about bringing back the single-class tournament, but the organization later announced it would stick with the current alignment.
Honestly, that was probably the right decision.
The idea of establishing classes is to level the playing field, to give the small schools the same shot at winning a championship the big schools have.
And the success factor takes that a step farther. If a team shows that it can succeed at one level, the success factor gives that team a chance to show its stuff in another class while giving other schools in the lower class a chance for their day in the sun.
Saturday night, Western High School found out its baseball team will move up to 4A because of its recent success. It will play in the same sectional as Kokomo, Logansport, Marion, and Lafayette’s Jefferson, McCutcheon and Harrison.
A system that sees the same teams in the championship every year leads to a drop in fan interest. The crowds start to drop off as fans find more exciting things to do with their time.
The IHSAA is trying to change that. We applaud the organization for the effort, and we wish it success.