Sports

Prep football | Braden River appeals FHSAA district classification in Class 7A

The Braden River football team is seeking a new roster of district opponents, even after marching undefeated through nearly the same field last season.

The school appealed its assignment in the proposed Florida High School Athletic Association district classification, beating Thursday's deadline.

The Pirates are the only school in the Bradenton Herald coverage area to appeal its classification for the years 2015-18, according to Justin Harrison, the FHSAA's associate executive director for athletic services.

In December, the FHSAA tentatively placed Braden River in Class 7A-District 11 with Lakewood Ranch, North Port, Palmetto, Sarasota and Venice.

Last year, Braden River won the first district football championship in school history in 7A-10, which included the same schools with the exception of Venice, which would move up from Class 6A under the proposal.

Braden River athletic director Matt Nesser was unavailable for comment.

Schools may only appeal to move up or down in class if they are "geographically isolated" from other schools in the district or if their enrollment is "within 10 percent of the dividing line between the classification to which it would be assigned and the next lower classification," according to the FHSAA Handbook.

Because all of the schools in the proposed Class 7A-District 11 are in Manatee and Sarasota counties, it is likely Braden River is appealing based on its student population. In the fall of 2014, Braden River reported 1,993 students, just 54 more than the lower limit for Class 7A.

The FHSAA increased its reclassification cycle to four years instead of two last fall. That makes it more important for schools to be satisfied with where they are placed.

Manatee did not appeal its classification, which is in Class 8A-District 7 with Tampa Alonso, Hillsborough County's Riverview, Sarasota Riverview, Tampa Steinbrenner, Lithia Newsome and Palm Harbor University.

But the school did offer a suggestion about the region playoff bracket. Under the proposed classification, the Hurricanes would face teams from District 8 -- Port St. Lucie Centennial, Fort Pierce Central, Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast and Vero Beach -- in the region quarterfinal and possibly the region semifinal. Because those teams are on the state's east coast, Manatee suggested it be paired with teams in the central part of the state, near Orlando, to save travel.

"We are going to stay put but we had a suggestion on the bracket," Manatee's submission said. "We have been, and are again, paired with the Ft. Peirce (sic), Vero district causing teams in those districts to go coast to coast for the first 2 rounds of the playoff. Looking at the bracket if you simply flip flopped district 7 with either district 5 or 6 -- teams would all be going to the middle of the state for those rounds with pairing districts 5 and 8, 6 and 7 causing the least travel. Let me know if that is something that can be looked at ... ."

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