Smithfield: Sports

August 29, 2014

Attendance numbers help show the future

Using the early attendance numbers from area high schools, we get a look at what the high school sports landscape will look like for the 2017-18 school year. And things are about to get big for Corinth Holders, which seems destined for the 4A ranks.

Numbers are important in sports, obviously. And early season number trends often times tell a lot about what the future holds for a team.

The same can be said for another first week of school string of numbers — the daily membership releases from school systems which chart how many students are enrolled at each school.

In the high school ranks, those numbers become even more important when you look at how big each school at a given classification is.

As a background, the N.C. High School Athletic Association divides its member schools into four separate classifications based on the average daily membership every four years. The bottom 25 percent is 1A, the top 25 percent becomes 4A and so on. It’s done to make sure each school is competing on as even of a playing field as possible, i.e. playing against similarly sized schools in the state playoffs and for state championships.

With three new high schools built in the past 15 years and a wild amount of growth in general, Johnston County has seen all kinds of change in who goes where for school and what classification schools are.

Based on the numbers we’ve seen this week, expect more of the same come the next realignment in the spring of 2017. (The realignment takes affect for the 2017-18 school year.)

If the numbers we’re seeing now stay the same, this is what is likely to happen.

Corinth Holders — now the largest high school in Johnston County — will join the 4A ranks. Clayton could stay in the 4A ranks or drop back to the 3A ranks.

(The last realignment saw the 4A/3A break at 1,411 (4A) and 1,410 (3A) students.)

West Johnston will probably drop to the 3A ranks where Cleveland, Smithfield-Selma and South Johnston are all likely to remain in the next realignment. North Johnston will stay in the 2A ranks and Princeton does the same in the 1A ranks.

Now just because the last breaks were at a certain student number, be it 4A/3A (1,411 vs. 1,410), 3A/2A (999 vs. 996) or 2A/1A (668 vs. 668), doesn’t mean they’ll be in the same position then as they are now.

In fact, they’re all likely to shift upward since North Carolina’s population continues to grow each year. Right now, that shift will impact Clayton — a school that was in the 2A ranks not more than two decades ago — the most of any other Johnston County School.

Garner, meanwhile, which had just more than 2,700 students enrolled as of Wednesday, will be in a transition mode of its own during the next alignment cycle.

The plan is for South Garner High to open for the 2017-18 school year with only freshman and sophomore classes, splitting much of that enrollment. But both of those schools will likely be 4A schools. Remember, there’s not a public high school in Wake County that isn’t in the 4A ranks.

What we do know for sure is that the future landscape of high school sports will be a little different, and those in Pirateland (Corinth Holders) should get ready to do battle in a 4A conference with a lot of Wake County schools.

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