The year: 2037. The week after Thanksgiving. Early evening; it’s dark.
The scene: A farm house. 8 Publics are playing cards around a table; other Publics are drinking and talking. The mood is festive. Three P/P’s are crouched outside of the window watching the festivities.
Jimtown: What game are we playing?
Linton-Stockton: How about 5 card draw?
Northwood: Sounds good.
Reitz: Ok, I’ll deal.
Adams Central: It sure is fun around here this time of year.
New Palestine: Yep, another great state championship weekend for us.
Lowell: Sure beats the old days.
Heritage Hills: No kidding. Remember how we used to lose to all of the P/P’s?
NorthWood: Yeah. That was terrible.
Jimtown: Not anymore. This was 10 in a row for us.
Lowell: I know. 3 for us. And 9 straight finals appearances.
Reitz: Don’t remind me. You’ve beaten us three years in a row.
Lowell: Yeah, but you won the three prior to that.
Reitz: True. Oh well. You can beat us every year for all you did back in 2025.
Lowell: Ahh, the war of 2025. It’s too bad it cost so many lives.
Jimtown: Yep, programs lost, AD’s fired. The carnage was unbelievable.
Fishers: What are you guys talking about?
Western Boone: The war of 2025. Don’t you remember?
NorthWood: He was pretty young back then. Linton, you explain what happened.
Linton-Stockton: OK. Back before the IHSAA banned P/P’s from participating in football, they used to beat us constantly. For years and years, we were their punching bags. We tried everything. Success bumps, multipliers, economic adjustments, bumping them all up a class. Nothing worked. They kept winning. It didn’t matter what class we put them in.
Jimtown: Yep. 2025, that was the year everything came to a head. P/P's won the state championship in all six classes. Carmel was the only Public in the finals and Cathedral beat them 62 to 7.
Reitz: All of the Publics got together and mutinied. A huge demonstration took place at GID which turned into a mass riot. Publics and P/P’s viciously attacked each other. There was bloodshed, bruised egos, damaged expectations, and destroyed reputations. The IHSAA was finally forced to do something to avoid further injuries.
Linton-Stockton: The P/P’s weren’t allowed to play football anymore!
Jimtown: That’s right. There was some discussion of putting them all in the same class but we all thought that would cheapen our tournaments. So me, Lowell, Linton-Stockton, and most of the others here, led the coup which resulted in elimination of all football programs in P/P schools. It was a beautiful day when it happened.
Linton-Stockton: Yep, it was beautiful. We haven’t lost since.
Jimtown: Well, I have to give you credit, Lin. You have a great coach, a very good feeder program, and a really committed community supporting you. You deserve the success you’ve had.
Linton-Stockton: Thanks, Jim. See, Fishers? Look around the room at all of the success. We’ve won 11 straight state championships. NorthWood, 11 straight regionals, 8 semi-states and 5 state championships; Heritage Hills, 11 straight finals appearances, 6 state championships; Adams Central, 11 regionals, 6 semi-states. That is some serious success we’re talking about.
Reitz: Yeah. Look at Jimtown for example. Sure they won 4 state championships under the old system, but since we instituted the new system in 2026, they’ve won 7 out of the last 11. That wouldn’t have been possible if the P/P’s were still around.
Tri-West Hendricks: True. But you have to admit there are extenuating factors.
West Lafayette: What do you mean?
Tri-West Hendricks: I don’t mean to be bitter. But we’ve been to semi-state 9 times and have lost to Jimtown each time. They have a higher median income than we do. We have way more students in the federal lunch program than they do. Many of our students live on farms and are unable to play football. I respect what they have accomplished but it is hardly a level playing field.
Jimtown: Wait a minute. I don’t think YOU understand! We’ve spent decades developing our youth program. It is one of the best in the state. We’ve created a culture where all of the kids in the community want to play football and their parents, many of whom played at Jimtown when they were in high school, support the program. The kids get good instruction for 6 years prior to even getting to high school. It isn’t our problem that you haven’t made the same commitment to get where we are.
Tri-West Hendricks: That’s fine, but it is YOU who don’t understand! We can never get to the point you are at with our community. We don’t have the income; we don’t have the parental involvement; we don’t have the same pool of kids that you do.
Jimtown: Pool of kids? We have the same pool of kids. That is what the class system is for. We each have nearly the same number of kids so we are in the same class. I don’t know what “pool of kids” has to do with anything.
Tri-West Hendricks: You draw kids from a much larger area than we do. Kids are drawn to your program because of its success. The more success you have, the more kids want to play there, the better your kids get, the more success you have, the more kids want to play there, and on and on. We can’t compete with that. It isn’t about effort. No amount of effort can get us there. It’s not fair!
In the meantime, Western Boone was toasting to the Publics’ success. "Gentlemen," concluded Western Boone, "I will give you the same toast as before, but in a different form. Fill your glasses to the brim. Gentlemen, here is my toast: To the prosperity of The Publics!"
There was the same hearty cheering as before, and the mugs were emptied to the dregs. But as the P/P’s outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the Publics? Their eyes flitted from one face to another. Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three. But what was it that seemed to be melting and changing? Then, the applause having come to an end, the company took up their cards and continued the game that had been interrupted, and the P/P’s crept silently away.
But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Jimtown and Tri-West Hendricks had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the Publics. The P/P’s outside looked from Public to P/P, and from P/P to Public, and from Public to P/P again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.