Virginia High School League eliminates conferences

Published 10:36 am Friday, February 19, 2016

The Virginia High School League’s executive committee voted on Wednesday to approve a new alignment plan that would eliminate conferences and return schools across the state to their former districts.

The new plan, which the committee unanimously approved, will start with the 2017-18 school year.

Most schools will remain in the current 6A through 1A classifications with the new plan, but are expected to be grouped in districts closer together to cut travel costs and give rivals the ability to play each other in postseason play.

For decades, local teams like Franklin, Southampton and Windsor played in the same district.

However, the Virginia High School League in 2013 opted to create conferences and eliminate districts. With new conferences, these teams were no longer rivals despite their proximity.

Southampton is expected to be assigned to a yet-to-be-named division against the likes of Colonial Heights, Park View (South Hill), Phoebus, Poquoson, Tabb and York, among others.

Franklin and Windsor should fall back into the TriRivers District with Charles City, Greensville County, Surry County and Sussex Central.

“We won’t know what division the schools are in until March’s [average daily membership] numbers are given to us,” VHSL administrative assistant Lora Vickley said. “At that time, we’ll do the reclassification.”

Southampton athletic director Tim Mason was unavailable for comment on Thursday, but Franklin Athletic Director Dave Lease and Windsor athletic director and football coach Chuck Parrish said that the redistricting was a good thing, but it also wouldn’t change much outside of the postseason.

“We were losing money in the conference [play],” Lease said. “The farthest we [will] have to travel is like an hour and a half.”

Parrish said, “It’ll be something exciting.”

There will be 24 total regions for postseason play, with four in each of Group 6A-1A.

“[When it comes to number of students], we’ll always float that line,” Parrish said, referring to his school’s 1A stature.

“We’ll still have to travel two to three hours for some games.”