Rifle will drop to Class 3A for soccer | PostIndependent.com

Rifle will drop to Class 3A for soccer

Jon Mitchell

RIFLE — Rich Carter was ecstatic when he heard the news on Tuesday.

“Yea!” said Carter, who serves as the boys and girls soccer coach at Rifle High School. “This will give us a chance to be more competitive.”

Carter was speaking of the decision made by Classification and League Organizing Committee, a branch of the Colorado High School Activities Association, to allow the Bears to play down a classification in boys and girls soccer. The decision was made based on the Bears’ performance at the Class 4A level for the past two years, and the move down allows them a chance to, like Carter said, be more competitive.

“We don’t have the advantage of having a club program like a lot of teams do,” Carter said. “There’s a lot of our girls who don’t touch a soccer ball until the season starts. If we would have kept continuing down this road, there’s a good chance we’d lose what little base for a program we have.”

The move down for Rifle’s boys and girls soccer teams is one of many moves made by the CLOC on Tuesday to prepare for CHSAA’s upcoming two-year classification cycle. CHSAA announced the approvals by the CLOC on its Web site, CHSAAnow.com, Tuesday night.

Also gaining approval were a gamut of petitions for football teams to play down a classification. Among them was Grand Junction Central, which petitioned to drop from the Class 5A/4A Southwestern League into the Class 3A Western Slope League, and Montezuma-Cortez’s petition to drop from the 3A WSL to Class 2A. Both petitions were accepted since the programs have less than a 25 percent winning percentage over the past four years.

Changes in classification could force the reorganization of football leagues. Ryan Casey, the director of Web services for CHSAA, said decisions on new football league alignments will be made later this month.

In the past two years, Rifle’s boys soccer team has posted a 3-27-0 overall record, including a 1-14-0 season this year. Rifle’s girls soccer team has also struggled, going 3-25-1 in two seasons.

Dropping down a class doesn’t guarantee instant success. The 3A version of the WSL — officially known as Class 3A Region 3 — qualified four teams for the Class 3A boys soccer state playoffs this past fall. One of them, Coal Ridge, reached the 3A quarterfinals this year and, in 2012, advanced to the 3A semis. On the girls side, Coal Ridge, Basalt, Roaring Fork and Grand Valley each reached the 3A state playoffs last season.

Still, Carter feels the Bears haver a better chance to be successful at 3A, but the switch won’t happen until fall of 2014. Rifle’s girls will remain in the 4A WSL for the upcoming 2014 spring season.

“When we were in 3A, we were in the process of at least building something,” Carter said. “It’s still going to be hard, but I know that we can at least be more competitive in 3A.”

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