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Bertie is now 2-A

WINDSOR – The Falcons are moving.

No, there hasn’t been a new high school built in Windsor, but the Bertie High School athletic program is moving.

Last week the North Carolina High School Athletic Association released ADM (Average Daily Membership) numbers and the Falcons were placed in the 2-A division. Realignment is set to take effect in 2009.

The move wasn’t surprising to Bertie High School Athletic Director Marvin Rankins. What he was taken aback about was how far down the 2-A list Bertie found itself.

“It’s not a really big surprise,” Rankins said. “We kind of already knew that’s where we were. We’ve been playing undersized for quite a while.

“What did surprise me was that we were so far down numerically,” he continued. “I knew we would be 2-A, but I had no idea we would be that small.”

Bertie’s final ADM was 873, which was 168 students less than North Lincoln High School, the largest 2-A school in North Carolina. North Johnston is the smallest at 732 students.

Rankins said the biggest change coming for Falcon fans was when Bertie made the playoffs.

“The playoff situation will be different,” he said. “We’ve been playing in a 2-A conference already. The biggest difference will be when we start playing different teams in the playoffs.”

Rankins said another change would be the non-conference schedule the Falcons play.

“I think getting games could be a problem for us,” he said. “We’re still going to be a quality team but being a smaller size, some people may not be willing to play us.”

Two football rivalries that could be at issue are the non-conference games with New Bern and J.H. Rose, both large 4-A schools.

“I have a feeling it could affect those rivalries,” Rankins said. “I’m hoping it doesn’t, but I think it almost certainly will.”

Looking locally for replacements may not be an option for the Falcons either. Rankins said there had been difficulty in the past scheduling smaller schools and he didn’t think that would change.

“All indications I’ve received are that’s not going to change,” he said. “We’ve dropped in size, so you would hope it would, but we still have a quality program. I think it will remain difficult for us to schedule some people that we all know we should be playing. I’ll make the calls, but I’m not optimistic.”

The Bertie AD reminded fans that the school had been through a similar transition when it dropped from the 4-A ranks to 3-A.

“We’ve seen this before and it didn’t change the quality of our programs,” Rankins said. “We’re still going to field a quality football team. We’re still going to play a lot of the same people.

“Some of the faces on the opposing sideline may change, but I don’t think the quality of what we field athletically will be any different.”

Rankins also said no sports would be eliminated because of the drop to 2-A. He said while track was not as popular at the 2-A level as the 3-A, it would remain a key sport for the Falcons.

As for conference affiliation, Rankins said he believed Bertie would remain aligned with Edenton, First Flight, Pasquotank and Northeastern.

He said he was not overly concerned about the possibility of Hertford County and Currituck staying in the league as 3-A members.

“Playing in a split conference was a bigger concern for us as a 3-A,” he said. “We’re not terribly concerned about it as a 2-A member of the conference.”

Rankins said if the Bears were to leave the league, it would have no bearing on the two teams continuing to play each other.

“That will not affect the rivalry at all,” he said. “That’s something that is going to be there regardless. We will continue to play Hertford County whether or not we’re in the same conference.”