Greg Evans, sports editor
By Greg Evans
Last week, the top news in sports was Piedmont’s move up to Class 5A. This would have been a wildly surprising to some communities around the state, but residents of this community have been long awaiting the jump.
Coaches, administrators and fans around the community have been talking about the move for, at least, as long as I’ve been a part of the community. With that long of a lead up time, coaches are prepared for the move.
The odd position Piedmont has been in for the past few years has been that many of their sports were already a part of Class 5A.
Despite the jump for many programs, some individual sports, like track, know the 5A all too well.
Piedmont’s luxury in this situation is that coaches knew the move was coming and could prepare. By joining a conference like the Suburban Conference in basketball, softball (before Classes 5A and 6A transitioned to districts) and other sports, players have long been getting tuned for the class jump.
The enrollment numbers from the largest Class 5A school to the smallest school in the class vary by over 300 students a day. Compare that to the about 150 or so disparity in 4A and the wealth of talent at the largest schools in 5A can be a challenge. This is also the part where I bring up the fact that the enrollment between Broken Arrow, largest school in the state, and Booker T. Washington, smallest Class 6A school, is over 3,000 students a day.
The depth of the larger Class 5A teams might be the most difficult adjustment the Wildcats have to make in the next few years.
The odds of finding an Adrian Peterson or Brandon Weeden, for example, in a pool of 1,200 students would be much higher than finding such a player in a pool of 600. Even if we don’t look at All NCAA level players, the more students you have at a school, the better the odds are you can put together a complete team.
At smaller schools, coaches have to game plan to hide their weaknesses. In basketball for example; if you don’t have a tall man, you center your offense around the perimeter. The larger schools, in theory, should be more able to make a complete team.
Of course, if it was all about numbers then Broken Arrow would win 6A everything every year, right?
You can’t win with 100 untrained players and you can’t win with a hall of fame coach who can’t field a full roster. Once you strike that perfect balance, special things will happen.
The jump will mean different things for every sport at Piedmont, which I plan to talk about in due course. For now, let’s acknowledge that the years of preparation for this move has Piedmont in a situation where most of its sports have maneuvered in such a way where they should be ready to compete at the 5A level.