Evansville Courier & Press reports
It appears the final few dominos have fallen.
Four more high schools will be on the move after another round of conference realignment. Current Big Eight members Boonville, Mount Vernon, Princeton and Washington were accepted Tuesday night to join the Pocket Athletic Conference. This latest shakeup likely spells the end of the Big Eight after the 2019-20 school year.
Jasper and Vincennes Lincoln recently were accepted to join the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference.
"Obviously with the conference shakeups going on, we have paid close attention and explored options that we feel would be beneficial for Gibson Southern," said Jon Adams, the Titans' athletics director. "In the end, we feel adding these four area schools is a strong move for us across the board."
In football, it creates a 12-team PAC, which is expected to consist of two divisions based on enrollment.
A logical representation of the large-school division on the gridiron is Boonville, Washington, Gibson Southern, Princeton, Mount Vernon and Heritage Hills. Realistically forming the small-school division would be Pike Central, Southridge, North Posey, Tell City, South Spencer and Forest Park.
Adams said he anticipates the ability to still schedule three non-conference football games.
Boonville is the only Class 4A football team in the large-school division; the rest compete in 3A. Due to the IHSAA "success factor," Southridge was bumped up and is the lone 3A team in the small-school division while the others are 2A.
Tecumseh remains independent in football but stays in the PAC in other sports.
“We are elated by our inclusion in the Pocket Athletic Conference,” said Princeton athletics director Jason Engelbrecht in an email. “The PAC has a rich tradition of excellence with outstanding member schools and administrative leadership. We have enjoyed a previous working relationship with all PAC schools, which will lend to a seamless transition.
"Additionally, we are able to maintain the relationship of several former Big Eight brethren. It is a great fit for the future of our athletic programs.”
This continues a domino effect started in early March when Mount Carmel withdrew from the Big Eight in order to play enough district games to qualify for the Illinois High School Athletic Association football tournament. Down to just six schools, Jasper and Vincennes then joined the SIAC – also starting in 2020-21.
Unlike the expanded SIAC, the PAC is adding four teams that are for the most part located in its geographical footprint. The Pocket already spans seven counties: Dubois, Gibson, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, and Warrick. It will add one more with Washington joining from Daviess County.
The Big Eight was established in 1980 and boasted a couple of dynasties over the years.
Washington boys’ basketball won four state championships in 3A from 2005-11, led by brothers Luke, Tyler and Cody Zeller. Jasper baseball posted four state titles in five years from 1996-2000.
Overall, the Big Eight produced 17 state championships.
The PAC, founded in 1939, has enjoyed 29 of its teams represent their school and the conference in state championship games.
Conference realignment for 2020-21
Southern Indiana Athletic Conference: Bosse, Castle, Central, Harrison, Jasper, Mater Dei, Memorial, North, Reitz, Vincennes Lincoln
Pocket Athletic Conference: Boonville, Forest Park, Gibson Southern, Heritage Hills, Mount Vernon, North Posey, Pike Central, Princeton, Southridge, South Spencer, Tecumseh (excluding football), Tell City, Washington