By Laurence Hilliard

Kemper County Messenger

The head football coaches at Nanih Waiya and Noxapater are in agreement that a proposal to change Mississippi High School Activities Association 1A football from four to eight regions is not a good idea.

“I don't see it being very good for 1A football," said Nanih Waiya coach Ryan Keeton.

Noxapater coach Casey Orr said “I'm not a proponent of it.”

The proposal will be considered by the 41-member MHSAA executive council in February. If approved, it will go to the MHSAA executive committee for final action.

Currently, there are 34 schools divided into four 1A regions. Three regions include nine schools and the fourth, Region 4 in South Mississippi, has seven schools, with the top four teams from each region advancing to the playoffs. The proposed change would result in eight regions of four or five teams, but only the top two would make the 16-team playoffs.

Keeton and Orr both expressed concern that the change could result in strong teams being left out of the playoffs and said scheduling would be a problem.

“You are gong to have districts with four or five teams and they get two teams in the playoffs that probably don't deserve it,” Orr said. “And you have another district like ours that would likely be Noxapater, Nanih Waiya, French Camp and Sebastopol. You have four teams that annually are playoff teams and two of them will be left at the house.”

Keeton said, “You might have two good teams not making the playoffs. It wasn't too long ago (2013) that French Camp as a three-seed won the state championship. With two, they don't even make the playoffs.”

Nanih Waiya and Noxapater competed in the nine-team Region 3 this year. With eight region games, only two or three non-region games need to be scheduled.

Keeton said  the under the proposed change “scheduling could be a nightmare. If you have a four-team region, you only have three division games. Coming off the kind of success we have had the last couple of years, not many people are lining up to play us. We might have to play much larger schools.”

The Warriors are 28-3 the last two years, losing in the South State final in 2016 and the 1A championship game this year — both losses by two points.

“1A schools like us and Nanih Waiya would have to find six or seven non-district games," Orr said. "If teams you could compete with don't want to play you because they do not want to lose to a 1A school,  you will have to go out and find a 3A school or top tier 2A schools. You do not want to play four or five physical games before district play starts. The guys will be physically and mentally beat up before you get into district play.”

Cutting down on travel is the main reason for the proposal.

Classes 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A have eight regions, but the top four from each region make the playoffs. 6A, like 1A, has four regions with four from each advancing to post season play.