NO MORE NEED for speculation.
Port Angeles High School is headed down to Class 2A. And that’s nothing but good for Roughrider athletics.
Having moved down two classifications in the last four years — Port Angeles was a 4A school as recently 2005 — it seems the Riders have finally found their rightful place.
No longer must it take on I-5 Corridor schools with over-developed AAU teams, massive youth programs and heavily funded athletic departments.
(OK, except for maybe the Northwest Conference and Seamount League teams.)
A great many of these schools hail from towns not much unlike Port Angeles; small and remote cities that don’t have the distinct advantage that comes with urban youth sports programs.
Since fellow Olympic League 3As North Kitsap and Olympic are dropping down with them — 3A Bremerton, unfortunately, gets the proverbial shaft — they also have an established league to play in that is almost exclusively 2A (1A Port Townsend is the exception).
That means less confusion come postseason time and, likely, more playoff spots to go around as well.
The Port Angeles football program will get an easier 2A Olympic League schedule, while the regular season competition stays the same.
Postseason play gets a heck of a lot easier as well.
Port Angeles teams need not go through a gauntlet of SPSL, WCC and Greater St. Helen’s League squads to reach state anymore.
While there will be some tough competition at the district level — Renton, Sumner and Franklin Pierce to name a few — it will not be nearly as tough as before.
With 20 schools in the 2A West Central District, there should be a lot of state berths to go around as well.
(Let’s make this one thing clear, however: the 2A is not a complete cakewalk. The Lyndens, Tumwaters and Prossers of the world are no pushovers.)
One of the more cynical fans I talked to lamented that no top level talents will stick with teams west of Port Orchard, since there are no Class 3A or 4A schools in the region.
Perhaps that might be true. After all, Chimacum’s Steven Gray (now at Gonzaga) bolted the Cowboys for Bainbridge not too long ago to seek better competition in the 3A Metro League.
But those sorts of players in Port Angeles — if indeed, they wanted to transfer in the first place — probably would have done so regardless.
And the idea of more Port Angeles teams visiting state has to supersede that by a long shot.
If there is one school on the North Olympic Peninsula that might be hurt the most by the latest round of reclassification, it is Sequim.
While the Wolves will benefit from competing in a bigger 2A district, they will now do so as one of the middle-of-the-pack institutions enrollment-wise.
Sequim used to be one of the big dogs in the 2A West Central District, with only Fife and Washington sporting larger enrollments.
Now, Sequim is the 13th largest among the 20 2A schools in the district.
No doubt, current 2A Olympic League schools Kingston, North Mason and Klahowya will feel it even more, especially in football.
But Sequim fans can look forward to one thing: facing Port Angeles in football with the playoffs on the line.
Given the Wolves’ recent record against the Riders (4-2 since the series was renewed in 2004), no doubt they would welcome the challenge.
• Chimacum will remain in an unchanged 1A Nisqually League.
• Bremerton, since it remained 3A, is now flirting with the idea of rejoining the 3A/4A Narrows League, according to the Kitsap Sun.
Port Angeles has had an off-and-on rivalry with Bremerton for years. Obviously, the Knights joining the Narrows — likely for only two years until its enrollment numbers drop even further — would put that on hold.
________Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected]