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MHSA action: Plains set to move to Class B; Butte Central, Forsyth appeal reclassifications

Fairview awaits Oct. 5 OPI enrollment count
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Posted at 2:58 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 17:08:45-04

HELENA -- The Montana High School Association executive board held its annual May meetings in a virtual format this week, taking action on numerous topics across the Treasure State.

Among those actions taken, the MHSA executive board reclassified Plains High School from Class C to Class B beginning in the 2021-22 school year. Butte Central and Forsyth were each recommended to reclassify down -- Butte Central from Class A to Class B, Forsyth from Class B to Class C -- but each school appealed to remain in their respective classes, receiving approval from the board.

Fairview High School was also reclassified from Class C to Class B but was given approval to delay that reclassification pending an official Office of Public Instruction (OPI) enrollment count on Oct. 5, 2020. The MHSA executive board will re-examine Fairview's classification at that time.

The MHSA board also waived the current 10 hours per week bricks and mortar attendance requirement for the 2020-21 school year only. Previously, student-athletes were only eligible if they had at least 10 hours of attendance of in-person learning. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, districts across Montana have discussed the possibility of mixing in-person and online learning next school year.

Changes are also coming to the 8-Man and 6-Man football playoff brackets. Last season, the 6-Man brackets included five teams from the 6-Man North, four each from the East and South, but only three from the 6-Man West. This fall, 6-Man will have a fifth division -- the 6-Man Central -- changing the number of qualifiers from each league. The 6-Man East will receive four berths in the postseason, while the other four leagues will only receive three.

The fourth-berth division will rotate among the five leagues each year -- in 2021 the 6-Man West receives four playoff invites, in 2022 the Central will qualify four, the North will receive four berths in 2023 and the 6-Man South is scheduled for its place in the rotation in 2024. Those brackets can be viewed here.

The 8-Man football playoffs saw a similar bracket last fall, with the 8-Man North sending five teams to the postseason. Beginning this fall, all four leagues will return to four playoff qualifiers. The 2020-24 8-Man playoff brackets can be seen here.

Back in November, the MHSA executive board shuffled its 8-Man and 6-Man alignments, with Westby-Grenora and Sheridan moved from 6- to 8-Man. Those changes, along with the teams competing in the 6-Man Central, can be found here.

Other changes this week include the combining of Districts 11C and 12C, with the combined conference set to go by District 12C. The Western C division will be made of three districts -- District 12C, 13C and 14C. The approved seeding for the Western C divisional volleyball and basketball tournaments can be found here.

The MHSA board also approved changes for its music and speech and drama activities.

Forsyth superintendent Dinny Bennett was elected as the new MHSA executive board president, while Missoula Hellgate's superintendent Doug Reisig will be vice president. Class A's rep will be Jim Hawbaker of Billings Central, while Bridger's Jim Goltz is the new Class C representative.