Rifle clears hurdle for 2A move
Colorado High School Activities Association’s football committee, meeting in Denver Thursday, agreed to allow the Rifle Bears’ football program to drop down to Class 2A from 3A for the 2018-19 scheduling cycle.
However, the Bears have to clear one more official hurdle to nail down the move to 2A with CHSAA’s legislative committee meeting in February, according to CHSAA bylaws.
By dropping to 2A, the Bears will go from being on of the smallest football schools in 3A since 2012-13 to one of the largest 2A schools in terms of enrollment for the 2018-19 cycle.
As of now, enrollment projections put the Bears as the fifth-largest school in 2A for football with 579 students.
Since the 2012-13 scheduling cycle, Rifle has consistently been one of the three smallest 3A schools in the state. That hasn’t stopped Rifle from being successful overall, going 62-8 in that span under head coach Damon Wells, and reaching the state championship in 2014.
In 2017 Rifle finished second in the 3A Western Slope League behind Palisade before making a run to the 3A quarterfinals, losing to eventual state-champion Palmer Ridge, 49-7, at home.
The move to 2A will put Rifle in the same football league with nearby Coal Ridge, Basalt and Aspen high schools. Roaring Fork High in Carbondale, which also would play in the 2A ranks, is suspending its varsity football program for two years due to few junior and senior students going out for the sport.
“We anticipate the 2A Western Slope League to be just as tough as 3A,” Wells said via text Thursday evening. “We have played Basalt the past two seasons. We are fully aware of how good they are. We know how tough Delta is to play. Before we played Palisade this season, Delta was the last team to beat us in Rifle [on our home field.] Aspen made the playoffs this season; the 2A Western Slope League will be very difficult for us.”