Starting this fall, fans of Mountlake Terrace Hawks football will need to prepare themselves for road trips north to Skagit and Whatcom Counties in order to see their favorite team in action.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) released their 2016-2020 school enrollment and classification figures on Thursday showing that the sports team of Mountlake Terrace High School will be playing in the 2A classification beginning this fall, a change for the school that has been competing at the 3A level for many years.
With a school average attendance of 961.95 ninth through 11th graders, Mountlake Terrace was placed in the 2A classification for the next four years with 64 other WIAA member schools.
Although the 2016-2020 classifications won’t be made official until the WIAA Executive Board meets later this month, MTHS Athletic Director Kim Steward said on Thursday, “It’s set; it’s a done deal.”
The new 2A classification for the Hawks beginning this fall is for all school sports. All Hawk teams except football will still play in the Wesco League 3A/2A division against traditional rivals Edmonds-Woodway, Lynnwood, Meadowdale, Shorewood and Shorecrest, but will compete against area 2A schools in postseason district and state playoffs.
Shorecrest, which has been the Wesco League’s only 2A school, will return to 3A beginning this fall. Terrace will be losing Glacier Peak as a regular division opponent as the Grizzlies will be moving up to Wesco League 4A play. Snohomish will be added to the Wesco 3A ranks, but it is undetermined whether the Panthers will play in the 3A North or 3A/2A South Division.
For football, the Hawks will be playing in a yet-to-be-named league consisting of twelve 2A teams, with Mountlake Terrace being the farthest south of the schools. The 12 teams – MTHS, Anacortes, Archbishop Murphy, Bellingham, Blaine, Burlington-Edison, Cedarcrest, Granite Falls, Lakewood, Lynden, Sehome and Sedro-Woolley – will be placed in two six-team league divisions to be determined at a later date.
Terrace football Coach Kelly Dougan said the move to 2A won’t change the approach way he takes to running a program that has had success in recent years.
“It’s a big deal of nothing,” Dougan said of the new 2A classification for MTHS. “We still have to play football; we still have to play good teams.”
Dougan did point out two positives to the reclassification and the formation of a new 2A football league for the Hawks. “The biggest component I am looking forward to is being able to play schools of similar size,” he said. “You won’t be seeing sidelines of 35 (players) versus 80 (players).”
Regarding the longer road trips that the football team will face in the new league, Dougan not only wasn’t concerned but saw a positive in it. “Travel is not something that bothers me,” he admitted. “In fact, that’s ‘team time.’ Anytime you can spend time together as a team, it’s beneficial.”
For MTHS boys basketball coach Nalin Sood, playing at the 2A level beginning next year won’t affect the team’s regular season much. “Nothing is going to change until February of 2017 when you get into postseason play,” Sood said. “At that point you may get excited that you’re going to see new teams.”
“There’s some teams from up there (in Skagit and Whatcom Counties) that have tremendous programs, tremendous fan support,” he continued. “We’ve played those teams before in districts 20 years ago and the atmosphere is unbelievable. It’s our job to get good enough to go play those teams.”
“It’s going to be good; it’s going to be exciting. You’re going to create some new rivalries. We’ll try to get some 2A schools on the schedule in the preseason; that will be a neat thing for us to do,” Sood concluded.
Cedar Park Christian School – MLT, a private school in Mountlake Terrace that has teams competing in six sports – will remain in the 1B classification for 2016-2020.
You can view where all 384 WIAA schools have been classified for 2016-2020 here.
— By Doug Petrowski