Area schools bracing for the worst with the first draft of N.C. High School Athletic Association conference realignmet can breathe easy. There were many winners and few losers in the model released Thursday morning.
The conferences are not final, and schools will have three chances to appeal to the NCHSAA’s realignment committee. The conferences will be finalized some time in the spring and go into effect in the fall of 2017. Proposals are often approved so long as they do not cause one conference to have less than the suggested minimum of six teams per league.
Some 4A leagues only have five teams in this model, which means the NCHSAA made a few exceptions to its suggested minimum. Those conferences were harder to form because there are fewer 4A schools than the other three classifications.
This is the first realignment where the NCHSAA is not splitting its classifications into equal-sized quadrants.
Instead, it is using the 20-30-30-20 model. Non-football teams are not counted when the NCHSAA divides 20 percent of the most populated schools into 4A, the next 30 into 3A, the next 30 into 2A and the last 20 into 1A. Non-football schools are added back in after the other teams are placed.
There are 77 4A schools statewide, 113 in 3A, 114 in 2A and 103 in 1A.
Conferences do not have names yet. Each league makes its own name after conferences are finalized. They spend the next year (2016-17) drawing up with the 2017-18 athletic schedule for their respective leagues.
▪ Wake County avoided the worst-case scenario and will preserve many intraconference rivalries. The exception is Cary-Apex, but both schools saw this coming and will likely play nonconference in every sport.
▪ South Garner and Green Level open in 2018 and will likely join Conference C and Conference D, respectively.
▪ Among the new potential rivalries in 4A: Southeast Raleigh joining a league with Enloe; Cardinal Gibbons playing Broughton, Millbrook and Leesville Road; Garner joining Middle Creek and Fuquay-Varina; Rolesville joining Wake Forest, Heritage and Wakefield.
▪ If there is one 3A school unhappy with the realignment, it’s Person. The Rockets may request to stay in Conference J, which includes current Big 8 3A and PAC-6 4A teams. It’s a long drive from Person to Northwood, but there are more trips just like that if Person has to drive to Guilford and Rockingham counties.
▪ East Wake joining the Johnston County schools and Franklinton joining the Nash County and Wilson County schools sets off a chain reaction keeping other eastern 3A leagues, such as Conferences K and L, compact.
▪ There are only four 2A football teams in Conference Q and five in the 1A football-only league.
▪ The area’s charter schools get split into two different 1A leagues that should shorten travel. It is a surprise to see Raleigh Charter split apart from Franklin Academy and East Wake Academy.
▪ Conference M in 2A might be the toughest football conference in the state – Clinton, James Kenan and Wallace-Rose Hill are powerhouses, and Midway and East Bladen have strong programs.
Conference A: Corinth Holders, Heritage, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wakefield.
Conference B: Broughton, Cardinal Gibbons, Enloe, Leesville Road, Millbrook, Sanderson, Southeast Raleigh.
Conference C: Apex, Apex Friendship, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Middle Creek.
Conference D: Athens Drive, Cary, Green Hope, Jordan, Panther Creek, Riverside.
Conference G: Hoke County, Lumberton, Pinecrest, Purnell Swett, Richmond County, Scotland County.
Conference H: Jack Britt, Overhills, Pine Forest, Seventy-First South View.
Conference E: (4A) New Bern, South Central; (3A) C.B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne, J.H. Rose, Southern Wayne.
Conference F: (4A) Ashley, Hoggard, Laney; (3A) New Hanover, North Brunswick, South Brunswick, Topsail, West Brunswick.
Conference I: Eastern Alamance, McMichael, Morehead, Northeast Guilford, Northern Guilford, Person, Rockingham County, Western Alamance.
Conference J: Cedar Ridge, Chapel Hill, East Chapel Hill, Hillside, Northern Durham, Northwood, Orange, Southern Durham.
Conference K: Harnett Central, Lee County, Southern Lee, Triton, Union Pines, Western Harnett.
Conference L: Cape Fear, Douglas Byrd, E.E. Smith, Gray’s Creek, Terry Sanford, Westover.
Conference O: Havelock, Jacksonville, Northside (Jacksonville), Swansboro, West Carteret, White Oak
Conference P: Franklinton, Northern Nash, Rocky Mount, Southern Nash, Fike, Hunt.
Conference Q: East Wake, Clayton, Cleveland, West Johnston, South Johnston, Smithfield-Selma.
Conference I: Bertie, Currituck County, First Flight, Hertford County, Northeastern, Pasquotank County.
Conference J: Beddingfield, Bunn, Nash Central, North Johnston, North Pitt, SouthWest Edgecombe.
Conference K: Ayden-Grifton, Farmville Central, Greene Central, Kinston, North Lenoir, South Lenoir, Washington, West Craven.
Conference M: Clinton, East Bladen, East Duplin, Goldsboro, James Kenan, Midway, Spring Creek, Wallace-Rose Hill, West Bladen.
Conference P: Eastern Randolph, Jordan-Matthews, Providence Grove, Randleman, Thomasville, Trinity, T.W. Andrews, Wheatmore.
Conference Q: Bartlett Yancey, Carrboro, Cummings, Durham School of the Arts, Graham, N.C. School of Science & Math, Reidsville.
Conference R: J.F. Webb, Northern Vance, Roanoke Rapids, South Granville, Southern Vance, Warren County.
Conference H: (2A) Fairmont, Red Springs, South Columbus, St. Pauls, Whiteville; (1A) East Columbus, South Robeson, West Columbus.
Conference L: (2A) Croatan, Dixon, Richlands, Trask; (1A) Lejeune, Pender, Southwest Onslow.
Conference G: Cape Hatteras, Columbia, Creswell, Mattamuskeet, Ocracoke.
Conference H: Manteo, Camden County, Edenton Holmes, Gates County, Perquimans, Plymouth.
Conference I: Bear Grass Charter, Jones County, Northside (Pinetown), Pamlico County, Riverside (Williamston), South Creek, Southside.
Conference J: KIPP Pride, North Edgecombe, Northampton County, Northwest Halifax, Rocky Mount Prep, Southeast Halifax, Tarboro, Weldon.
Conference L: Hobbton, Lakewood, Neuse Charter, North Duplin, Princeton, Rosewood, Union.
Conference N: Chatham Central, Chatham Charter, Kestrel Heights, North Moore, Raleigh Charter, Research Triangle, River Mill Academy, Woods Charter.
Conference O: East Wake Academy, Falls Lake Academy, Granville Central, Louisburg, Oxford Prep, Roxboro Community, Voyager Academy.
Football only: Chatham Central, Granville Central, Kestrel Heights, Louisburg, North Moore.