Final vote Oct. 16 for realigning VHSL

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Franklin High School’s Marcus Stephens runs with the ball during a game earlier this season. Proposed changes in the Virginia High School League could result in Franklin, Southampton and Windsor high schools being in the same district. -- FRANK A. DAVIS/TIDEWATER NEWS


FRANKLIN—A proposed realignment from three to six classifications for Virginia High School League schools looks to renew old rivalries in Western Tidewater.

“I think we will have one of the toughest districts competitive-wise,” said Dave Lease, athletic director for Franklin High School. “I think the fans will like it. The competition will be there for everybody. It will be just like it was when we had the Peanut District.”

Southside District teams Southampton, Greensville, Brunswick and Park View would join Tri-Rivers District teams Franklin, Windsor, Surry, Sussex Central and Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, while Tri-Rivers member Charles City would leave for the Tidewater District.

The VHSL Executive Committee approved the proposed realignment on Sept. 19. The VHSL Membership, which includes representatives from each school, will vote at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16. Two-thirds of the membership must approve it to take effect.

Lease and Southampton High School Athletic Director Littleton Parker favor the realignment. Windsor Athletic Director Chuck Parrish did not return telephone call.

“With the district realignment, and us going into the Tri-Rivers District, everybody in this area feels that it’s an excellent idea because we are so close,” Parker said. “We can develop some of those rivalries back that we used to have.”

According to Lora Bickley, office manager with the VHSL, the goal is to ensure that schools with similar enrollment are grouped together for post-season tournaments, while being more economical during regular season district play.

“Monetarily, it will be good for the schools because people will travel to see those games, and we wont have to travel over an hour to get to a game, which is a big change,” Parker said.

Lease likes the way things are proposed for post-season play.

The state’s 316 schools would be split into six classes with two geographical regions for each class. There would be 24 to 27 teams in each region, while each region will consist of four conferences and 16 teams would qualify for the playoffs per region. A definitive playoff bracket will be voted on and established at the Oct. 16 meeting.

“I’ve always been for playing people your size,” said Parker. “For years we have played schools that were larger than us, and it is my understanding that we will not be penalized for playing schools that are two levels (divisions) below ours.”

The Tri-Rivers District teams would play each other during the regular season, but be split amongst four different conferences for the playoffs.

“When we move to conference play, it will renew rivalries from our days in the Bay Rivers District,” said Parker. “Playing those schools is not a big change for us.”