Let the discussion begin

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 12, 2004

RALEIGH – Let the games – or discussions – begin.

Friday afternoon, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association released numbers that designate which of four classifications high schools will play in during the 2005-2009 realignment.

Locally none of the five public high schools in the Roanoke-Chowan area will be changing divisions.

Bertie, who along with Hertford County, will stay in the 3-A ranks, came the closest to moving, as they were just 10 students in the Average Daily Membership (ADM) away from dropping to 2-A.

Gates County, projected by many to move up to 2-A during the realignment process, easily stayed in the 1-A classification as 17 schools in the 1-A ranks had higher ADM’s.

Northampton County High School-East and Northampton County High School – West will also stay at the 1-A level.

While none of those teams moved, a plethora of classification shifts could have far-reaching impacts on the league’s they play in after 2004.

The Northeastern Coastal Conference, in which both the Bears and the Falcons currently compete, will lose Manteo from the 3-A division, but current 2-A member Currituck will move to the 3-A ranks.

While losing the Knights from 2-A, the new Dare County school, First Flight, will make its debut in the 2-A division during the coming year.

Also, the Tar-Roanoke 1-A Conference will look somewhat different, as the league will lose both Franklinton and the Durham School of the Arts to the 2-A classification.

An option for replacing the lost teams will look very familiar, however, as Southeast Halifax will drop from the 2-A Northern Carolina Conference to the 1-A ranks.

The entire Four Rivers Conference, of which Gates County is a member, will remain intact as far as the numbers are concerned, as all seven teams remain 1-A.

&uot;We were close to dropping,&uot; Bertie Athletic Director Marvin Rankins said. &uot;We’re going to look at these numbers very closely and then I’ll probably be in touch with (HCHS AD) Charles Simmons to discuss our options.&uot;

Those options may include a return to a 3-A conference, something both schools have coveted since being forced into the current 2-A/3-A split.

The current Big Eight Conference will definitely be reshaped if it is to survive, as four of the 11 schools will no longer be 3-A. Smithfield-Selma and Clayton have been realigned 4-A while South Johnston and Beddingfield will move down to the 2-A classification.

Also, D.H. Conley, Rocky Mount and Northern Nash, will all drop from the 4-A Big East to play at the 3-A level.

In addition, Northern Vance and South Granville, both currently members of the 2-A Northern Carolina Conference will be 3-A in the next realignment.

The Falcons and Bears hopes may have already taken a hit, however as the Rocky Mount Telegram is reporting that a preliminary conference has been discussed already.

The Telegram reports that SouthWest Edgecombe Athletic Director Sandra Langley said that talks had begun to form a seven-team conference that would include SouthWest, Wilson Hunt, Wilson Fike, Nash Central, Northern Nash, Southern Nash and Rocky Mount.

The next phase of realignment is a preliminary plan put together by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. This plan is due to be released this month.

The next phase will take place in March of this year when schools gather to react to the preliminary plan.