South Bend & Raymond considering combining football programs

In a message from South bend Superintendent Jon Tienhaara, leaders in both districts met recently to discuss upcoming Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) rule changes and some of the challenges associated with declining turnout for football.

The districts are considering having a “combine”, or a “cooperative” high school football program, beginning in the 2020 season.

The WIAA recently decided to allow districts bigger than the 2B classification to use their free and reduced lunch percentages to justify competing with smaller schools. They say this potentially puts 2B school districts (such as South Bend and Raymond) against much larger rivals.

If the two districts request to play as a combine, they could remain much more competitive at the 2B level.

South Bend’s Athletic Director, Tom Sanchez, highlighted some of the safety reasons for forming a combine:

“Entering into a combine could provide the opportunity for our younger players to play at a more appropriate level, allowing them to develop their skills earlier instead of potentially playing in an unsafe setting too early. The possibility of playing larger schools might make this a necessity.”

Raymond Athletic Director Mike Tully spoke about the competitive advantage a combine would bring.

“Football is a numbers game. Combining our programs would allow us to have better depth and be more competitive at the varsity level. It would also allow us to play more JV games which would give our younger kids more opportunities to develop at the appropriate level.”