Two years after adding Nampa and Columbia, the 5A Southern Idaho Conference undergoes more realigment as schools around the state adjust classifications based on enrollment.
Kuna joins the 5A level for the first time in school history, and the 5A SIC loses Vallivue as it splits into two 4A programs with the opening of Ridgevue in Nampa.
Nampa and Columbia struggled in their first two years in 5A, going a combined 7-29 and 2-13 in their pods. But Kuna has gone 5-1 vs. 5A teams the past two years, sweeping Meridian and Vallivue and splitting with Borah.
“Yeah, it’s a big transition. But we’re going to treat each week like any other week,” Kuna coach Ian Smart said. “So for our kids, they don’t see it as a big daunting task. I think it’s just another opportunity to go and prove to the state that we’re worthy of being in 5A.”
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The realignment also reshuffles the 5A SIC pods with a snake order. The largest school (Mountain View) resides in Pod A with the second (Rocky Mountain) and third largest (Borah) in Pod B, then the fourth largest (Boise) in Pod A, etc.
The changes last for the 2016-17 and ’17-18 school years. But before anyone gets too comfortable, Skyview Athletic Director Eric Bonds said the Hawks plan on joining 5A in 2018-19.
SIC GUARANTEED SIX PLAYOFF BERTHS
The top three teams in each of the 5A SIC’s pods qualify for the 12-team playoffs, and the pod champions receive byes into the quarterfinals.
A seventh SIC team can reach the postseason via the at-large berth. The fourth-place finisher in each SIC pod competes with the third-place team in northern Idaho and the fourth-place team in eastern Idaho for the last spot.
The team with the best record against Idaho 5As or teams with enrollments larger than 1,280 in other states earns the at-large berth.
MERIDIAN GETS NEW TURF, EAGLE RECEIVES FIXES
The aging synthetic turf fields at Meridian and Eagle high schools received facelifts over the summer.
Crews were putting the final touches on new turf at Meridian this week, which cost the West Ada School District $592,491.
Eagle will receive a new field in 2017. To ensure the safety of the school’s field this school year, Athletic Director Kimber Chrz said crews repaired seams and added fresh pellets over the summer.
5A SIC games to watch
Aug. 26: Eagle at Mountain View, 7 p.m.
The preseason favorites in their respective 5A SIC pods provide a season-opening barometer. Mountain View (Pod A) is coming off back-to-back state runner-up finishes, while Eagle (Pod B) has made the postseason eight years in a row.
The Mavericks have won five consecutive meetings against the Mustangs, winning 50-21 in 2015, 37-20 in 2014, 28-21 in 2013, 48-22 in 2012 and 37-16 in 2011.
Oct. 14: Rocky Mountain at Eagle, 7 p.m.
These natural rivals who are less than four miles apart return to the same pod, making their annual meeting more meaningful. This year’s Pod B regular-season champion is guaranteed a home game in the state quarterfinals.
Rocky Mountain beat Eagle 32-23 on its way to the program’s first state championship last season. But since 2011, the series is tied at three wins apiece.
Oct. 21: Mountain View at Capital (Dona Larsen Park), 7 p.m.
The 5A SIC’s Pod A title, which comes with homefield advantage for state quarterfinal and semifinal matchups, could come down to this regular-season finale.
Mountain View topped Capital twice last season, including a 42-14 defeat on Nov. 6 that ousted the Eagles in the state quarterfinals. The Mavericks had previously lost six in a row to Capital.