INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana high school football season kicks off this year with big changes at the top.
The five-class system that has been in place since 1985 has been revised to include a sixth class.
The state's 32 biggest schools will be in Class 6A. Eighteen of those schools are in central Indiana.
The revised system has 34 teams in Class 5A, with 64 teams each in 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A.
Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox said the change was all about the numbers.
"The reality of the 5A class initially was that we had schools with 4,800 students competing with schools with just under 1,500 students," Cox said. "Football being the game it is and numbers being very important, it simply was a mismatch."
Twenty-four of the 28 previous Class 5A champions will now be in 6A.
The change opens the door for schools that will be in 5A. Decatur Central will be the second-largest school in the newly aligned class system.
"Playing schools a lot more our size and enrollment, I think, is going to make for a good tournament," said Decatur Central coach Justin Dixson. "It's going to be ultra-competitive, some great, great football teams, great coaches in 5A."
Indiana's best teams are affected in another sweeping overhaul. A newly added success factor moves teams up a class if they make the state finals in back-to-back years. That is being used in all sports, but it will have the biggest effect on football.
Bishop Chatard, Cathedral and Scecina are all moving up a class because of that change. This year will be Cathedral's first in 5A.
"When we get to week seven or eight, then we'll start thinking more about what teams are doing well in the tournament, who might we face in the sectionals," said Cathedral coach Rick Streiff.
Scecina moves to 2A after losing the 1A championship game the last two years.
Scecina coach Ott Hurrle would like to see one change to the success system, which now makes class adjustments on a two-year rotation.
"I think a four-year program would have been better," Hurrle said. "I think a two-year isn't really a success factor. That's just a one class deal, and we got caught in it, but that's OK."
"I think we've got to give it some time. I don't think one year can really tell us if this is a successful adventure or it's not," Cox said.