The football and soccer teams from St. Mary Catholic Central and Summerfield's boys and girls basketball teams will compete in smaller divisions for the state tournaments next year.

Goran Cepo was pretty excited when the Michigan High School Athletic Association released its 2020-21 school classification list.

Among the changes announced by the state is that the St. Mary Catholic Central boys soccer team that Cepo coaches will compete in Division 4 next year.

“We are excited for that,” Cepo said. “I think it is a good fit for our program, based on the size of our school and the numbers we have. I feel if we would have been in Division 4 this past season, we could have made a deep tournament run.”

All sports’ tournaments are conducted with schools assigned to equal or nearly equal divisions, with lines dependent on how many schools participate in those respective sports.

There were no changes among the classes for Monroe County Region schools, but there is movement among different sports. Besides SMCC dropping to Division 4 for soccer, there is also a significant change for Summerfield. The Bulldogs will compete in Division 4 in boys and girls basketball next season.

“I have mixed feelings about the change,” Summerfield coach David Raymond said. “We’ve really developed some good, strong rivalries in our district in the past few years. It’s been an incredibly tough district, especially the last few years as there have been so many quality teams. We’ve always enjoyed the challenge, even if we haven’t been able to quite get over the hump.”

Summerfield’s enrollment, according to MHSAA data, will drop from 210 this year to 188 next year. The cutoff for Division 4 basketball is 190 students, meaning the Bulldogs will be among the biggest Division 4 schools in the state. They are also on somewhat of an island. Other than Britton Deerfield, there are no other Division 4 schools in either Monroe or Lenawee Counties.

“I think in the long run it will be good for our Summerfield programs,” Raymond said. “Other than basketball and volleyball, every other sport at Summerfield was already playing in Division 4, or D8 in football. I think D4 is probably a better indicator of our school size and we're looking forward to taking on a new challenge.”

For the last several years, Summerfield was in a basketball District that included Erie Mason, SMCC, Whiteford and Blissfield. That District is likely to see some shuffling because Blissfield will compete in Division 2 for basketball next year. That leaves Whiteford, SMCC and Erie Mason as the Division 3 schools in Monroe County for basketball, which isn’t enough for a district.

Effective with the 2020-21 school year, schools with 831 or more students are in Class A. The enrollment limits for Class B are 392-830, Class C is 182-391, and schools with enrollments of 181 and fewer are Class D. The break between Classes A and B decreased 32 students from 2019-20, the break between Classes B and C decreased three students, and the break between Classes C and D is seven students fewer than the 2019-20 school year.

Football will undergo a significant classification change for the 2020 season, with teams in both 11 and 8-player assigned their divisions before the season for the first time since 1998; from 1999-2019, divisions for the 256-team 11-player field (and later the 8-player tournament) were determined after the regular season.

Two 11-player football state champions will play in different divisions in 2020 than those they won a year ago. Grand Rapids Catholic Central will move to Division 5 after winning the Division 4 championship last season, while reigning Division 6 champion SMCC is locked in to Division 7 this upcoming season.

Falcon coach Adam Kipf said being Division 6 or Division 7 doesn’t change anything about the approach to the season.

“Our focus is Almont in Week 1,” Kipf said. “We have been in Division 7 before. We know the quality teams out there in that division. Playing quality competition in the playoffs is expected, no matter what the division. We also know that we have to play well and take care of business in our league before we can worry about any possible playoff opponents.”

As for the SMCC soccer team, Cepo feels the same. The Falcons already compete in the rugged Huron League, with such powerhouses as Riverview, New Boston Huron and Grosse Ile. And, Cepo said the Falcons typically schedule much bigger schools to get ready for the state tournament.

“Last year we won 19 games and 11 of those wins came against teams with winning records,” he said. “Of our four losses, three were to Grosse Ile. We played four Division 1 schools. We schedule strong to get us ready for the tournament.”