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2022 division changes: Which division now has the most playoff teams?
Taking a look at the impact of teams changing divisions in 2022
With the conclusion of our “Where are the Wins” series, we will be moving on to a new series of off-season style posts over the next few weeks.
This new series will be focused on players & recruiting, with the theme of the posts attempting to answer the age old question: Does Talent Matter?
We’re still in the process of developing this content, so bear with us as we prep the first post in this series for release later this month.
In the meantime, we’re taking a quick pit-stop with this post: the MHSAA just dropped the 2022 division listings a few weeks ago, and there are many schools changing divisions in 2022 (84 to be exact). Who are these teams? Which divisions are they headed to? Are there any competitive imbalances post realignment?
We will attempt to answer all of these questions below …. but before we continue, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter. That way you won’t miss out on any of the content to come!
Before we get into the specific teams, it’s helpful to have some context on the total number of teams that we’re covering: the MHSAA’s division listing for 2022 has 500 teams scheduled to play 11 man football in 2022. That number is down 13 from the number shown on the same list in 2021.
I expect that this number will go down further as we approach the season - as was the case in 2021, only 508 of the 513 actually scheduled games; a smaller subset of this number (507) made it onto the field and played a game (see here for this listing)
So who are the teams that are leaving? Shown below is the list of those teams that scheduled 11-man games last year but are not signed up to play 11-man in 2022:
Harper Woods Chandler Park (D4)
Wyoming Lee (D5)
Dearborn Heights Star International (D6)
Flint New Standard (D7)
Blanchard Montabella (D8)
You you will note that this list is longer (11) than the actual drop in teams that we discussed above (8). This is because there are 3 new teams this year. These teams did not play 11-man football last year, but are currently scheduled to do so in 2022:
Detroit Lincoln King Academy (D5)
Burton Madison (D7)
Center Line Prep (D7)
Now for a look at the divisions themselves: with 500 total teams, the divisions are roughly equal - Divisions 1-4 have 62 teams each, and Divisions 5-8 have 63 each.
As 32 teams will qualify for the playoffs in each division, every team will start the season with a greater than 50% chance of making the playoffs. For reference, this metric (% of total division making the playoffs) is up substantially over the last few years, due exclusively to the drop in the number of teams playing 11-man football (see our post, Where are the Wins?, for more detail on the decline here).
While the divisions were constructed to form ones with an equal number of teams in them (I am assuming that the almost-perfectly even divisions of 62/63 teams is not mere coincidence), it is always interesting too look at how this realignment changed where the enrollment cutoffs are for each division. The below is year-over-year change in the maximum enrollment for each division - you will note that Division 3 is the largest mover here, with their maximum and minimum enrollment declining by 25 and 9, respectively.
Losing only 13 or 8 teams from 2021 (depending how you count - see above) might not seem like much, but if you peer into the makeup of each division, you will see quite substantial change.
For instance, 84 teams in total will change divisions in 2022. That’s roughly 17% of the entire field, and this includes some of the premier teams in the state. Two state champions (Detroit MLK and Hudson) will change divisions in 2022, along with 5 other regional finalists (Caledonia, Cadillac, Detroit Country Day, Ishpeming Westwood, and Muskegon Catholic Central).
So where are these teams going? On net, of the 84 teams total that are changing divisions, most are headed down a division (59 total). Two teams, Maple City Glen Lake and Detroit Communication Media Arts, are actually headed down 2 divisions. The remaining 27 teams are headed up a division (none are heading up more than 1 division).
When you overlay playoff qualification status onto these changes, things get even more interesting - for instance, Division 8 will enter the year with 35 playoff teams, the most of any division. This guarantees that at least 3 teams who made the playoffs last year will not being do so in 2022.
These teams all came from Division 7 - with only 28 teams, D7 has the lowest number of 2021 playoff teams of any division. A portion of this is attributable to the addition of new teams (Burton Madison and Center Line Prep_, but can also be tied back to the large number of 2021 D8 dropouts (there were 6).
Curious to see the specific teams moving into or out of your team’s division? Scroll below for the full listing of division changes:
Division 2 to Division 1
Caledonia (Regional Finalist)
Division 1 to Division 2
Fraser (Playoff Qualifier)
Division 3 to Division 2
Battle Creek Central
Harper Woods (Playoff Qualifier)
Mattawan (Playoff Qualifier)
South Lyon East (Playoff Qualifier)
Division 2 to Division 3
Grosse Pointe North
Warren Woods Tower
Jackson (Playoff Qualifier)
Walled Lake Western (District Finalist)
Division 4 to Division 3
Detroit Henry Ford
Sault Ste Marie
New Boston Huron (Playoff Qualifier)
Plainwell (Playoff Qualifier)
Sparta (Playoff Qualifier)
Cadillac (Regional Finalist)
Division 3 to Division 4
Dearborn Divine Child
Detroit East English
Ionia (Playoff Qualifier)
Pinckney (Playoff Qualifier)
Riverview (Playoff Qualifier)
Orchard Lake St Mary’s (District Finalist)
Detroit Martin Luther King (State Champion)
Division 5 to Division 4
Big Rapids (Playoff Qualifier)
Division 4 to Division 5
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (Playoff Qualifier)
Romulus Summit Academy North (Playoff Qualifier)
Detroit Country Day (Regional Finalist)
Division 6 to Division 5
Detroit Southeastern (District Finalist)
Division 5 to Division 6
Remus Chippewa Hills
Parchment (Playoff Qualifier)
Clare (District Finalist)
Grand Rapids West Catholic (District Finalist)
Division 7 to Division 6
Lutheran Westland (Playoff Qualifier)
Ishpeming Westwood (Regional Finalist)
Muskegon Catholic Central (Region Finalist)
Division 5 to Division 7
Detroit Communication Media Arts
Division 6 to Division 7
Erie Mason (Playoff Qualifier)
Jonesville (Playoff Qualifier)
Division 8 to Division 7
Cass City (Playoff Qualifier)
Cassopolis (Playoff Qualifier)
Saugatuck (District Finalist)
Hudson (State Champion)
Division 6 to Division 8
Maple City Glen Lake (Playoff Qualifier)
Division 7 to Division 8
Detroit Community (Playoff Qualifier)
Detroit Leadership Academy (Playoff Qualifier)
East Jordan (Playoff Qualifier)
Evart (Playoff Qualifier)
Mancelona (Playoff Qualifier)
Reese (Playoff Qualifier)
McBain (District Finalist)
That’s all we got for today! Thanks for reading our post! See you soon for our next series, where we hope to answer the question - does talent matter?
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