Realignment will cause change

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, December 8, 2011

CHAPEL HILL – Change is coming.

Preliminary numbers for the Average Daily Membership of public schools in North Carolina have been released and at least one local school will be changing affiliations.

In addition, a computer model has been put together that would establish conferences throughout North Carolina. Among the proposals in the conference is the elimination of all split leagues in the state.

The change will not affect the current Northeastern Coastal Conference, however, as the league will remain intact if the current plan is adopted, but as a 2-A only group.

Four years ago Bertie High School dropped from the 3-A ranks to 2-A and numbers indicate Hertford County High School and Currituck County High School will follow suit when realignment occurs in 2013.

HCHS dropped from just under 1,100 students four years ago to 889 in the current ADM, just five students above Bertie. Currituck’s numbers are now indicated to be 980, making them by far the largest school in the league, but still keeping them 2-A.

“Once upon a time, I would have had a problem with us being 2-A,” HCHS Athletic Director Charles Simmons said. “Now, I’ve come to realize the numbers are what they are. We’re a 2-A size school and I think it’s important that we compete at that level.”

As for the conference remaining unchanged, Simmons said he is pleased to see the league in its future form.

“Our complaint has always been about the split league,” he said. “Now that we’re all 2-A, I think we will be one of the stronger 2-A conferences in the state. I think you’ll see times when every school goes deep into the playoffs.”

Bertie High School Athletic Director Marvin Rankins said he is also pleased to see what is currently the Northeastern Coastal Conference become a 2-A league.

“I’ve never been a fan of the split conference and I’m glad to see that its going away,” Rankins said. “Now we will all be competing together for the same playoff berths. We’ll go after it and may the best team win.

“I feel like Bertie has been on an even keel with the rest of the league anyway, but this certainly makes the playing field level for everyone,” he added.

Gates County High School will remain in the 1-A ranks according to the proposal, but likely will be moved into a different conference. The Red Barons are currently in the Tar-Roanoke Conference with Northampton-East, Northampton-West, Southeast Halifax, North Edgecombe and KIPP-Pride.

The proposal places Gates County in what is referred to as Conference 10 with an entirely new slate of foes. The league would also include Camden, Columbia, Creswell, Manteo, Perquimans and Plymouth.

GCHS Athletic Director Lulu Eure said her school is looking forward to the change.

“I am pretty excited,” she said. It puts us much closer to our conference opponents. I’ve always thought we should be playing in the league with Camden, Perquimans and Plymouth. I’m very pleased with the way it is right now.”

The preliminary draft put Northampton County High School – East and Northampton County High School – West into two different conferences. The Rams were placed in Conference 9 with North Edgecombe, Riverside, Rocky Mount Prep, South Creek, Southeast Halifax and Tarboro. The Hurricanes were to be in Conference 8 with Granville Central, KIPP Pride, Louisburg, Northwest Halifax, Roxboro Community and Weldon.

That all changed earlier this week, however, when the Northampton County Board of Education voted to consolidate the two schools.

Rick Strunk, Associate Commissioner of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, said the association was aware of the decision made by the Northampton school board, but had not addressed it as of yet.

Northampton County Schools Athletic Director Dexter Harris said the school district had not yet discussed the two leagues or decided if they would ask the association to place them in one conference or the other.

Details as to the placement of the school will likely come out next week.