NMAA shakeup: Scorpion football team reclassified as 6A squad starting next season

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — There are some major changes coming to your local prep football scene for the next couple seasons.

The New Mexico Activities Association this week unveiled its realignment and classification plan for the school years 2022-2024, which will include some significant changes to several of the state’s football classes.

Farmington High, which saw its bid for a Class 5A state title fall short last month after losing to Artesia in the semifinals, has been moved into Class 6A. Meantime, Los Lunas, winners of the Class 5A state title after defeating Artesia, will also enter Class 6A.

The change for Farmington is massive, as they will face home and away series against the likes of Eldorado, La Cueva, Sandia and West Mesa in the next couple seasons. 

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La Cueva was a Class 6A semifinalist this past season, losing to Rio Rancho by a final of 35-34. Sandia was eliminated by Cibola in the first round of the Class 6A football playoffs last month.

Farmington Scorpions linebacker Landon Pettyjohn flushes Los Alamos quarterback Jakob Green is out of the pocket during the first quarter of their football game, Friday, Oct. 1., 2021 at Sullivan Field in Los Alamos. Next year's lineup will be a bit different as the Scorpions move to Class 6A from Class 5A.

The NMAA uses a criteria to determine enrollment. That criteria considers an average of enrollment count over the course of 80 days for the second and third years prior to the start of a new block and the 40-day enrollment count numbers just prior to the start of a new block. The figures are then utilized to determine the enrollment figure for each school. All member schools are then placed in a classification by their enrollment average.

The NMAA’s enrollment threshold, based on an average of students at a school from 2019-20, 2020-21 and this year, is different for football than any other sport. Class 6A is 1,450-plus students based on that metric. In other sports, to be in the largest class, it is 1,300-plus.

The NMAA’s board of directors voted unanimously to approve the latest realignment plan. Schools may appeal their placement and have a week before another board meeting is scheduled to hear those appeals.

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Farmington head football coach Jeff Dalton, who is in Roswell this weekend preparing to coach in the New Mexico High School Coaches Association All-Star Football Game, was unavailable for comment.

The changes for Farmington will not affect basketball or baseball or most other sports in the coming years, which still utilize a top-tier of Class 5A among New Mexico schools.

The changes for the upcoming football season go well beyond Farmington High School.

With the Scorpions moving up to Class 6A, District 1/5-5A will now be comprised of four teams, with Piedra Vista joining Belen, Highland and Miyamura. Los Alamos, which had been in the same district with Farmington and Piedra Vista, will now be in District 2/6-5A with the likes of Del Norte, Manzano and Valley. Manzano won the Class 6A title just four years ago.

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In addition to Farmington and Los Lunas, two other previous 5A schools in football are moving up into Class 6A. Capital and Alamogordo also are getting a bump due to their enrollment figures exceeding the threshold to remain in 5A.

Locally, District 1-4A will see very few changes. Aztec, Kirtland Central, Gallup and district champion Bloomfield all remain in place, while Shiprock's status as a Class 4A school changes to independent.

Ironically, Ruidoso, who eliminated Bloomfield from the Class 4A football playoffs two weeks ago, will be reclassified into Class 3A, joining District 4 with Dexter, Hope Christian, New Mexico Military Institute and Tucumcari.

Alignment to District 1-3A football also will not change, with Navajo Prep remaining in the same district with Zuni, Tohatchi and Newcomb.

For a closer look at enrollment numbers as well as classification assignments, check out the NMAA's website.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.