Conferences are aligned every few years in Arkansas but very few times are there significant changes.
When the new cycle begins in the fall of 2014, significant would be an understatement for the type of changes that are coming.
The biggest move will be the Alma Airedales shifting from the 5A-West to the 7A/6A-Central. Alma will be the smallest school in class 6A but will be reunited with rival Greenwood in the conference.
“It’s not something that really catches us by surprise,” Alma athletic director Mike McSpadden said. “It is something that we have thought was a possibility and to be real honest with you we’ve never shied away from playing great competition.”
Joining Greenwood and Alma in the 7A/6A-Central will likely be Van Buren, Siloam Springs, Russellville, Conway, Little Rock Hall and Little Rock Parkview.
“That’s just one of those deals, we just have to go play football,” Alma football coach Doug Loughridge said. “We’re going to enter that conference with open arms. It’s a chance for us to go play in some different cities, big stadium with great Arkansas high school football crowds.”
With Siloam Springs and Van Buren leaving the 7A/6A-West, that allows Northside and Southside to return to the conference against their long time rivals.
Changes are also coming to the smaller schools as Booneville drops down from 4A to become the largest school in class 3A.
“It’s just nice for all of our sports just to get a chance to be competitive not just on the local level but hopefully on the state level,” Booneville athletic director Michael Johnson said. “We’ll be hoping that’s going to be one of the major differences.”
Shiloh Christian and Huntsville will both drop from 5A down to 4A, which in turn forces Farmington to move up into a new look 5A-West.
“It is one of those things that you really can’t prepare for,” Farmington baseball coach Jay Harper said. “You just have to jump into it and do the best you can.”
The official conference alignments will be released at a later date by the Arkansas Activities Association.