Pike is an A school by the DOE, the only in Marion County. There are smart kids walking the hallways. Most students walking the hallways at Pike are eligible to play sports. The biggest factors (having walked these hallways for a 3-year period in the late 00’s) are lack of interest and a number of athletes moving out of the district. Over 80% of the football program as a whole were on free/reduced lunch. In my 23 years of being around football as a coach, what a student pays for their lunch has never mattered in the overall health of a football program. Pike btw is actually getting smaller and is projected to be under 2,800 in the next decade.
Ben Davis and Warren Central for that matter come from two of the poorest communities in the State of Indiana, yet have thriving athletic programs. Why? They have hard working student athletes, money invested into their programs and great coaches (two of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country). I don’t know about BD, but I know a LARGE LARGE majority of players in the WC football program are on free/reduced lunch.
Where you all should be looking is money spent and resources available at the best programs. Lake Central, Pike, Noblesville, Crown Point (has improved some in money spent), Tech, all of these programs don’t spend near the amount of money toward their program as the others are spending.
None of those are the true point though as it is this is a “Big 4 Problem.” It’s not an issue for all of 6A. It’s mainly the Big 4 of the MIC (at least to this point in the tournament.) Carmel went south in 11 and 12, so if we look at 2013-2019, out of those 7 years, these 4 teams have dominated the semi-state rounds:
Carmel - 7 appearances
Center Grove - 6 appearances
Ben Davis - 4 appearances
Warren Central - 2 appearances
(19 of 28, 7 is by the north regional winner, and the other 2 are by Avon)
If we split the 6A tournament into 2 divisions (by the way, currently 12 Indy area teams and 4 northern Indiana meaning travel would be an absolute disaster) we would eventually get to the point of having 4 teams dominate the top division. My point is going into 2 divisions only solves the issue for schools 17-32. Over the last decade, it’s safe to say they would have had somewhere between 6-8 different winners. In the top division, it’s a proven fact that over the last 10 years the top division would have been won by Carmel 3 times, Ben Davis 2 times, Warren 2 times, CG 1 time (if we assume they’d be on top division based on success) and the others 2 times (2010 & 2012.) 2012 was a state finals by 2 6A-2 schools and CG just happened to be the next best team, so we could technically say that CG would’ve won in 2012 as well. This just comes back to the point that the issue is the Big 4. They’re dominating everyone else, and if given the opportunity, 8 out of 10 times, these teams would dominate the semi-state round.
I don’t know there is a solution that is fair. If we allow teams 17-32 (oh, and if you thought travel was bad for 6A-1, you should see it for 6A-2 — that’s certainly not going to help attendance) to have their own tournament, suddenly you’re going to have multiple winners in that division and the same winners in the big division. Yes, I understand that other schools are getting better, but we can only use current data for this, and the current data shows that only 4 schools have dominated.
If CG were in Division 2 all along, CG would have 9 titles, LC 1 (both MIC teams) and D1 would have 7 MIC titles, 1 by Penn (2015 loss to CG), 1 by Fishers and based on the way the tournament went in 2012, 1 by Merrillville. Again, this doesn’t support the theory that the tournament should be split into 16 teams each.
At some point you have to draw the line.