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NCHSAA releases first draft of conference realignment

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has released the first draft of its proposed Conference Realignment Plan, which becomes effective with the start of the 2021-22 school year.

The four-year plan (2021-2025) proposes a few major impacts on high schools in eastern and northeastern North Carolina, to include all in the Roanoke-Chowan area. The major “shake-up” comes with Bertie falling from Class 2A to Class 1A. Meanwhile, Camden County, Edenton-Holmes and Manteo High School will move up a notch (from Class 1A to Class 2A) while First Flight High School and Currituck County High School advancing in size from Class 2A to Class 3A.

Bertie is currently a member of the Class 2A Northeastern Coastal Conference along with Hertford County, Currituck, Elizabeth City Northeastern, First Flight, and Pasquotank County. Hertford County, Northeastern, and Pasquotank County will maintain their 2-A classification under the realignment plan.

Gates County will remain a Class 1-A school, as will Northampton County High School.

Gates is currently a member of the 1-A Albemarle Conference, along with Camden County, Edenton-Holmes, Manteo, Perquimans County, and Washington County (Plymouth).

The first draft of the proposed realignment plan, as it impacts local high schools, is as follows:

Class 1-A (Conference #2): Bertie, Gates County, Perquimans, Riverside-Martin (Williamston), South Creek (Robersonville), and Washington County.

Class 1-A (Conference #9): KIPP Pride, Northampton County, NW Halifax, Rocky Mount Prep, SE Halifax, Warren County, and Weldon.

Class 2-A/3-A Split (Conference #15): Camden County, Edenton-Holmes, Elizabeth City Northeastern, Hertford County, Manteo, Pasquotank County, Currituck County (3-A), and First Flight (3-A).

Another split league (2-A/1-A) with a local impact is Conference #6: Beddingfield, Roanoke Rapids, SW Edgecombe, North East Carolina Prep (1-A), Tarboro (1-A), North Edgecombe (1-A), and Wilson Prep (1-A).

Meanwhile, Conference #17 is also a split league (2-A/3-A) with Bunn, Louisburg, and Nash Central as the 2-A members along with Franklinton, Northern Nash, Rocky Mount, Southern Nash and Vance County as the 3-A members.

“The number of split conferences in this alignment draft represents the Realignment Committee’s desire not to limit those,” said NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker. “It also takes into consideration the protection of natural rivalries and strongly considers geography and travel time. Of course, this means the way of getting into the playoffs must be reviewed and updated. That will come later.”

Member schools may submit those concerns or suggestions to the NCHSAA through an online form by Jan. 8, 2021. The Realignment Committee will reconvene five days later (Jan. 13) to review submissions from schools and make adjustments as appropriate to the first draft.

The second draft of conference alignments will be sent to the membership on Jan. 14. Once the second draft has been posted, schools will have the opportunity to submit an appeal in writing by Jan. 21. All appeals will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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