Smithfield: Sports

Five Johnston schools in one conference in proposed 2017 NCHSAA realignment

A record five Johnston County high schools will be in the same conference if the first draft of the N.C. High School Association’s realignment plan holds through the spring.

Garner and Corinth Holders will get entirely new conference lineups. North Johnston will get a couple of somewhat closer rivals in the 2A ranks. Meanwhile, the 1A conference including Princeton and Neuse Charter will look pretty much like the Carolina 1A Conference.

Clayton and West Johnston will drop into the 3A ranks along with fellow Johnston County schools Cleveland, South Johnston and Smithfield-Selma. Those five schools are projected to be in a six-team conference with East Wake, which also drops from 4A to 3A. That conference is called Conference Q under the NCHSAA plan. Conferences determine their own names once they are set.

The 3A Harnett County schools, previously mostly with the Johnston schools, move into a league with Lee County Schools (Lee and Southern Lee) and Union Pines.

There will be an opportunity for schools and conferences to present new possibilities, but any changes would have to be approved by the NCHSAA. The final plan will be released next spring. The changes will be enacted in the fall of 2017.

Garner is projected for Conference C in the 4A ranks with five current Southwestern Wake Athletic Conference members: Middle Creek, Holly Springs, Apex, Fuquay-Varina and the recently opened Friendship High in Apex.

Although Middle Creek and Garner are fierce rivals, they’ve never been conference rivals.

Corinth Holders, as many expected, is projected for a northern Highway 540 corridor conference with four other schools that have all opened in the past couple of decades — Heritage, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wakefield — and Wake Forest.

Old Carolina 1A Conference members Princeton, Neuse Charter, Hobbton, Lakewood, North Duplin and Rosewood are joined with Union of Sampson County in what is Conference L right now.

Current Eastern Plains 2A members North Johnston, Wilson Beddingfield, North Pitt and Southwest Edgecombe will be in a league with Bunn and Nash Central under the proposed plan.

For the first time there are four projected conferences containing 4A schools from Wake County. Conference B has Broughton, Cardinal Gibbons, Enloe, Leesville Road, Millbrook, Sanderson and Southeast Raleigh. Conference D has Wake schools Athens Drive, Cary, Green Hope and Panther Creek with Durham schools, Jordan and Riverside.

D. Clay Best: 919-524-8895, @dclaybest

NCHSAA 2017-21: The First Draft

3A Conference Q: Clayton, Cleveland, East Wake, Smithfield-Selma, South Johnston, West Johnston

4A Conference A: Corinth Holders, Heritage, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wakefield

4A Conference C: Apex, Apex Friendship, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Middle Creek

2A Conference J: Wilson Beddingfield, Bunn, Nash Central, North Johnston, North Pitt, Southwest Edgecombe

1A Conference L: Hobbton, Lakewood, Neuse Charter, North Duplin, Princeton, Rosewood, Clinton Union