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Arkansas Activities Association releases football conferences for 2024-26 cycle

Four perennial private school powers are moving up for the second consecutive cycle

The Arkansas Activities Association Board of Directors met Thursday morning to approve football conferences for the 2024-26 cycle. 

In all, 22 teams will be in new classifications. 

Most notable of the moves was four private school powers elevating, which came as little surprise to anyone who has tallied the points over the past two seasons as it relates to the Competitive Equity Factor. 

Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy, who competed in the 6A-West the previous two seasons and Class 5A the cycle prior to that, will join the 7A-Central. With those two going up, Jonesboro will move down to Class 6A and Fort Smith Northside will shift from the 7A-Central to 7A-West, while Fort Smith Southside heads down to Class 6A. 

Harding Academy, which won the Class 4A state championship, elevates from the 4A-2 to the 5A-East while Searcy, which is three miles west of Harding Academy, will move down from the 6A-East to the 5A-Central. Harding Academy moved up from 3A to 4A in the previous cycle. 

Just like Harding Academy, Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy, Shiloh Christian will be in its third class in the past three cycles following three consecutive appearances in the 4A state final, as well as the previous two years in the 5A final. The Saints will go from the 5A-West to the 6A-West. 

Episcopal is the only other private school bumping up as it will go from 2A to 3A, but that is due to enrollment, not the Competitive Equity Factor. 

Other notable moves for the larger classifications are Greenbrier, Greene County Tech and Jacksonville all joining Searcy in going down from 6A to 5A. 

Class 4A added Dardanelle, Forrest City, Mills University Studies, Prairie Grove and Southside (Batesville) from Class 5A, while Mayflower, Harrisburg, McGehee and Rivercrest all head to 3A from 4A. 

Gurdon and Junction City – one of the dominant small-school programs of the 21st Century – labored in Class 3A over the past two years, but both are on the way back down to Class 2A.

Speaking of 2A, it will be at an even 32 teams with eight in each of the four conferences. There are 29 teams in the current cycle as all conferences have seven squads, with the exception of the 2A-2's eight.

8-Man football will look drastically different as the club division will have only four teams, while eight sanctioned squads are returning to 11-man, headlined by two-time defending club state champion Mountain View and 2022 sanctioned state champion Izard County Consolidated. Guy-Perkins and South Side Bee Branch are also expected to field varsity sanctioned teams.

You can view all of the conferences here

-- Kyle Sutherland | @k_sutherlandAR