The Suburban Conference went ahead and anticipated Park Hill’s shift up and split the Trojans away from their biggest rival during its most recent two-year realignment. Announced last month, Park Hill will be shifted up to the Gold Division, the largest of the league’s four tiers, starting in 2016-17. The move comes with the expectation that the Trojans will join the other six current members of the division as a Class 6 team in football.
This marks the first change to the 25-team conference’s four division setup since moving to that format in 2008. Previously, the two largest divisions were six teams each with the seven-team division in one of the two smallest.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association will not release its enrollment breaks for football and basketball until early April. However, preliminary numbers put Park Hill as the 22nd largest high school in the state, and Class 6 contains the 32 largest football playing schools.
Other members of the Gold Division are Raymore-Peculiar, Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Lee’s Summit, Lee’s Summit West and Lee’s Summit North. Park Hill South remains in the Red Division with Liberty, Truman and St. Joseph Central with Raytown and Liberty North slated to move up to the second-largest tier for the next two years.
The Blue Division — the smallest of the four — remains unchanged with Platte County, Kearney, Winnetonka, Raytown South, Grandview and Belton.
Despite the change, Park Hill athletic director Bill Erneste said the district plans to keep rivalry games alive with Park Hill South in all sports, although this would nix the home-and-home series in sports like baseball, basketball, softball and soccer. The teams would likely play one guaranteed game in each sport.
That includes football, which already has a schedule for the next two years.
Park Hill and Park Hill South will play Week 3 on Friday, Sept. 2 this year, part of both teams’ revamped slate. Park Hill adds a date with Lawrence Free State (Kan.) as part of the Suburban-Sunflower Showdown, which features 10 high profile games pitting teams from the Suburban Conference against teams from the Sunflower League — the Kansas City metro area’s two most prominent leagues.
Park Hill and Free State will play Sept. 16 at Park Hill District Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
In the opener, Park Hill travels to Lee’s Summit North, and the Trojans also have road dates at Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit West and Liberty North. Home games also include Raymore-Peculiar and Blue Springs South.
Park Hill South opens at home on Friday, Aug. 19 against Winnetonka, and other games at Park Hill District Stadium include Grandview St. Joseph Central, Liberty North and Lee’s Summit North. The Panthers play on the road against Raytown, Liberty, and Truman in addition to the neutral site game with Park Hill.
Platte County opens at home against Grandview, and the home slate includes the renewal of an on-again-off-again rivalry Week 4 against Harrisonville in Platte City. The two teams last played in the 2012 Class 4 quarterfinals — a 28-7 win for Harrisonville — and the Wildcats will be the first non-Suburban Conference team on the Pirates’ regular season schedule since leaving the Midland Empire Conference following the 2007 season.
Other home games for Platte County include Raytown South and Kearney (Friday, Oct. 14). Road games for the Pirates will be Oak Park, Staley, Belton, Liberty and Winnetonka.
Park Hill currently competes in Missouri’s largest classification for all sports except football, so the Trojans will have no other changes.
Platte County could see adjustment in some sports, most likely to move down in volleyball (currently Class 4, the largest) and cross country (currently Class 4, the largest). West Platte and North Platte are unlikely to see much movement with North Platte having potential to go down in baseball and softball to Class 1.
All sports except football and baseball will have enrollment breaks released late in the summer.