AISA announces realignment

Published 3:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2016

Two new programs will compete in the ranks of AISA for the first time during the 2016-17 academic season, forcing the organization to one once again reclassify all three classes.

Emmanuel Christian and North River Christian Academy will compete in AISA athletics during the 2016-18 classification period, giving the association a total of 41 schools.

The addition will force teams to move up and down between the A and AAA ranks, including Pike Liberal Arts regional opponent Escambia. Pike and Escambia competed in football in Class AAA Region 2. This season Northside Methodist will make the move to class 3A, sending Escambia to Class AA Region 2.

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Pike football remains in AAA Region 2. Pike baseball, softball and basketball will also be affected with the alignment change. The Patriots will now compete in a three team Class AAA Area 1 that includes Lakeside and Northside Methodist. Pike volleyball will make up Class AA region 2, Area 1 with Emmanuel Christian Academy, The Lakeside School and Northside Methodist.

Schools are divided into their classes based on their location in efforts to reduce the amount of travel for schools.

“Schools are assigned to their regions based on geographical location,” AISA athletic director Roddie Beck said. “We determine the mileage between each school within a region and schools are assigned based on the best possible overall scenario for each region to reduce travel as much as possible.”

Patriots head coach Allen Ponder agrees the amount of travel will greatly be affected with the realignment.

“I think it will be good for travel,” Allen said. “We don’t have to make the trip to both Escambia and Monroe. Escambia has a good team dropping down to AA. You have teams moving up and down, but you’re still going to have a pretty tough area.”

Northside Methodist comes to AAA after formally playing in class AA region 2. During 2015 the Knights finished the year 7-4 and fell in the opening round of the playoffs to Clark Prep.

The Patriots and Knights have never met during the Allen era at Pike, but he is looking for an athletic team come next season.

“They are probably the second or third biggest school in AISA so they have had a big jump in attendance,” Ponder said. “They will present a challenge to all 3A schools. They have a lot of athletes that they pull from the Dothan area. I look for them to be a pretty competitive school.”