South Kitsap will see revised Narrows next season

The enrollment figures are out.

Now it becomes a matter of logistics for high schools in the Narrows League.

The Narrows traditionally has been a Class 4A league, but will follow a state-wide trend this fall when it becomes a 3A/4A league. The Greater Spokane League, Wesco and Columbia Basin/Big Nine are all 3A/4A leagues.

Schools must have a minimum of 1,304 students to participate in 4A, but four that did not meet that criteria across the state, including Bellarmine Prep, elected to opt up.

South Kitsap athletic director Ed Santos said his school will be joined by Bellarmine and six others in the 4A Narrows: Central Kitsap, Gig Harbor, Mount Tahoma, Olympia, Shelton and Stadium.

For now, Santos said the 3A schools are Capital, Foss, Lincoln, Timberline, Wilson and Yelm. North Thurston was expected to join the league, but did not meet the 1,086-student enrollment criteria and likely will enter the 2A Evergreen Conference.

But Santos said the Narrows received a surprise. The 3A/2A Olympic League, which includes the majority of schools in Kitsap County, saw all of its schools with the exception of Bremerton fall to 2A. He said schools received enrollment figures from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 18 and “by 9:45, Bremerton was asking what it needed to do to apply for Narrows League entrance.”

Santos said North Thurston not joining the league along with the likely addition of Bremerton means splitting the Narrows into North and South divisions probably is not feasible. Only five schools — Capital, Olympia, Shelton, Timberline and Yelm — would fit naturally in the latter division. Initially, North Thurston and another Lacey school, River Ridge, were viewed as candidates for a seven-team division. The North would have featured nine teams.

The geographic divisions would have kept rivalries intact, but Santos does not expect too many of them to be disrupted with the 3A/4A setup. He said the annual “Spaghetti Bowl” between Capital and Olympia should continue, but Central Kitsap vs. Olympic in the “Battle for Bucklin Hill” might make less sense now that the latter is a 2A school.

But Santos said all of those issues will be determined in January when athletic directors and other officials in the West Central District meet. Football schedules generally are released in December for the upcoming season, but Santos said the WIAA requested that schools wait to schedule nonleague games until the classifications were determined.

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