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NCHSAA Board of Directors finalize realignment

CHAPEL HILL – Bertie High School is now officially a member of a yet-to-be-named conference that includes perennial state powerhouse Tarboro along with local rival Riverside-Martin (Williamston).

That’s according to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Board of Directors who concluded a special called meeting on Wednesday for the purpose of finalizing the 2021-2025 Realignment Plan and implementing the 2021-2022 Sports Calendar.

The Board also altered playoff qualification and seeding procedures, implementing an RPI formula for seeding in all team sports beginning in 2021-2022.

The Board of Directors heard four procedural appeals from member schools before finalizing the Realignment Plan as submitted by the Realignment Committee. The final plan is posted on the Association’s website.

The NCHSAA Board’s final decision puts Bertie, who went down to Class 1A in the realignment, in the same conference with several programs that have enjoyed recent success on the gridiron, including Tarboro High School who won two of the last five state Class 1AA titles. The Vikings also won state titles in 2009 and 2010 as a Class 2A school and in 1984 at the 3A level.

Bertie’s new proposed conference also includes Washington County (formerly Plymouth High School, state football champions in 2012 and 2015), along with Gates County, North East Carolina Prep, Perquimans, Riverside-Martin (Williamston), and South Creek (Robersonville).

Williamston High captured state 1A football titles in 1995 and 1999. Bertie also has a pair of state football championship trophies earned at the 3A level in 1995 and 2000.

There was no change in the final realignment package for Hertford County, who remains a Class 2A school. The Bears will be in the same conference (2A/3A split) with 2A members Camden County, Edenton-Holmes, Manteo, Northeastern, and Pasquotank, along with Class 3A members Currituck County and First Flight.

Camden, Edenton-Holmes, and Manteo are currently Class 1A schools who are moving up in size to 2A. Meanwhile, Currituck and First Flight are currently Class 2A schools whose growing student enrollment will move them up to Class 3A for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

The finalized realignment document keeps Northampton High School as a Class 1A school and in the same conference with KIPP Pride Charter School, Northwest Halifax, Rocky Mount Prep, Southeast Halifax, Warren County and Weldon. In their final decision, the NCHSAA Board added two schools to that conference, North Edgecombe and Wilson Prep. The latter won this year’s Class 1A championship in boys basketball.

Other regional conferences include:

Class 3A/4A spilt: Havelock, Jacksonville, J.H. Rose Northside-Jacksonville, South Central, D.H. Conley (4A), and New Bern (4A).

Class 3A: C.B. Aycock, East Wake, Fike, Hunt, Smithfield-Selma, South Johnston, Southern Wayne, and West Johnston.

Class 3A/2A split: Franklinton, Northern Nash, Rocky Mount, Southern Nash, Bunn (2A), Louisburg (2A), Nash Central (2A), and Roanoke Rapids (2A).

Class 2A: Ayden-Grifton, Farmville Central, Greene Central, North Pitt, SouthWest Edgecombe, Washington, and West Craven.

“We are thankful to have the difficult task of realigning the membership behind us thanks to the outstanding work of the Realignment Committee and the leadership of the Board of Directors,” stated NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker. “This year’s committee and board was willing to think outside of the traditional mold for realignment and have delivered a product that we all believe moves the Association forward on very critical issues relating to fair competition, equity and leveling the playing field across our state.”

The Board also implemented a new playoff qualification process and seeding procedure. The Association will now use an RPI formula to determine qualification and seeding. The RPI formula will be used for all team bracketed playoffs and will consist of 30% of a team’s winning percentage, 40% of that team’s opponent’s winning percentage, and 30% of the winning percentage of the opponents of a team’s opponents. In all calculations of opponent winning percentages, games involving the team whose RPI is being calculated are ignored.

The east and west regions are pre-determined and will be seeded independently of one another utilizing the RPI rating of each school. Conference champions will still be seeded prior to any other qualifying teams, based on their RPI rating. All other teams will be seeded after the conference champions by RPI rating regardless of conference finish.

A full listing of the newly approved playoff qualification and seeding procedure has been posted on the NCHSAA calendar web page, as well as an FAQ document to answer questions about the RPI formula.

The NCHSAA Board also implemented new season limitations for the total number of allowable games for any team. In football, teams will be limited to 10 regular season contests per year. In men’s and women’s lacrosse, teams will be limited to 20 regular season contests, which is an increase of four contests per year from the current season limitations in these sports. In wrestling, there were no changes to the current season limitation. In all other sports, teams will be limited to 22 contests per sport season.

The Board also suspended the Endowment Game concept indefinitely.

Except for football and wrestling, all sports will be permitted one in-season tournament with a three-game maximum which would only count as one game or match. Any game beyond the third game of an in-season tournament would count as an individual game towards the season limitation.

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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