High school sports across the board is a numbers game. In order for teams to compete, they need players in numbers.
There are certainly trends to take into account when numbers are trending in the right direction and participation numbers in high school sports are increasing.
Look no further than the addition of Class 2A boys soccer as an example.
The new classification began play this fall with 25 teams who were split out based on enrollment numbers.
The result is teams of comparable size now competing against each other for a chance to enter their own postseason bracket. It makes the appeal of playing a little bit better for kids at those schools.
"I expect that having a 2A class will draw more kids out who will play for their high school teams," Dawson coach Dave Criswell said. "There were teams last year who had a hard time competing who maybe now can compete with schools their own size and have a little more success."
That has certainly been seen since the addition of 2A in girls soccer back in 2015.
Schools such as Dawson, the Colorado Springs School and Clear Creek suffered blowout losses when they played in the 3A state tournament in 2014.
Each advanced at least one round in the new 2A bracket the following year.
In 2017, only three teams that now play in 2A made the playoffs as 3A teams last year. Ridgway and Fountain Valley both lost in the first round. Dawson edged Manitou Springs in the first round before falling to Colorado Springs Chrisitan, the same team that beat Fountain Valley.
"Last year when we were in that 3A bracket, we were happy to make the first round and then whatever happened after that happened," Fountain Valley coach Kevin Ray said. "Now our schedule seems a little more competitive and now there’s more at stake because we’re considered one of the top 2A teams.
And it allows kids to play at a more even level of competition. As with each class in each sport, the bigger schools tend to have higher numbers of participants and ultimately a bigger talent pool to pick from.
But when the playing field is leveled, the 2A schools are capable of putting up numbers that are just as impressive.
Crested Butte's Dagan Schwartz is currently averaging five points per game, good enough to rank 16th in the state. Dolores Huerta Prep sophomore Enrique Flores is also right up there with 4.7 points per game which puts him in the top 20.
"Last year when we were playing some of the better 3A schools, we were able to compete, they had just a little bit more than we were able to give," Ray said. "Now you're not coming up against a program where every kid isn't a club soccer player outside of high school. You're going against teams that have athletes that will play a number of different sports."
That's not to say anything about the level of competition. With the increased numbers of kids participating, the quality of play will also see a rise. Ray noted that kids playing high school soccer is important to youth soccer in America, even if there are those who say it's not.
With more kids playing and more kids having an incentive to play, it will make the overall game better state wide.
“The great thing about soccer in Colorado across the board is that more kids are participating in the offseason," Criswell said. "We’re seeing the level of play rise overall because of that.”