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Looking at the ‘what-ifs?’ in NCHSAA realignment plan

As noted in today’s N&O, the new N.C. High School Athletic Association realignment plan could greatly change Triangle-area conferences.

The NCHSAA sent out different models with each proposed method, including the 20-30-30-20 alignment plan that was approved earlier this week to go into affect for the 2017-21 athletic seasons, to help schools visualize what each method would mean.

These are by no means final.

The realignment process is almost a year-long ordeal full of appeals, debate and multiple drafts and doesn’t really get going until after the upcoming 2015 football season. The last year of the current alignment is 2016-17, and by then schools will know if their conference will change in 2017-18.

The rough sketch that the NCHSAA sent out with this particular plan is below – but there were a few grains of salt to take. Remember, this is not a draft or a proposal as much as it is a “what-if?” or an outline.

▪ For one, no split conferences were listed in the model. Split conferences are often needed in the far corners of the state where there are not enough teams from one classification to have the minimum of six teams in a league.

▪ Secondly, the models didn’t always have the minimum of six teams in a league, which leaves the door open on what a real proposal might look like in those areas. Would another school switch conferences or would a split conference be needed?

▪ And lastly, no one can be sure about the schools near the cutoff lines of 4A, 3A and so on. The enrollment numbers used for this model were from this past year, and some schools may experience an increase or decrease next fall.

▪ The NCHSAA models also did not account for Apex Friendship High School, which opens next year, nor Rolesville not having a senior class yet. Rolesville was slated as a 3A in all models but it plans on having around 2,200 students.

▪ The 1A realignment sketch would need an overhaul so that teams with football programs can be grouped together more often to help with scheduling.

If done on the current teams in the NCHSAA, 100 would be 1A, 115 are 2A, 113 are 3A and 75 are 4A.

Keep all those things in mind as you look at a rough sketch the NCHSAA sent out. We’ve added notes with each conference in The N&O area.


“Cap-8” Conference: Heritage, Leesville Road, Millbrook Sanderson, Wake Forest, Wakefield. Note: Broughton could still join if Rolesville reaches 4A numbers. Every team in the present-day Cap-8 and present-day Southwest Wake will be 4A.

“Greater Neuse River” Conference: Broughton, Corinth Holders, Enloe, Garner, Knightdale, Southeast Raleigh. Note: Broughton could be dropped, Rolesville added if Rolesville reaches 4A numbers. Southeast Raleigh and Knightdale have stayed at around 1,650 students over the last few years, which puts both near the cutoff line for 3A. South Garner was not included because it opens in 2018.

“PAC-6” Conference: Jordan, Green Hope, Hillside, Panther Creek, Riverside. Note: Conference would need one more team for NCHSAA minimum of six.

“Southwest Wake” Conference: Apex, Athens Drive, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Middle Creek. Note: You can add Apex Friendship to this list because it opens in 2015. With the PAC-6 in need of teams, could this league get divided up between the Greater Neuse and PAC-6? Green Level was not included because it opens in 2018.


“Big 8” Conference: Cedar Ridge, Chapel Hill, East Chapel Hill, Northern Durham, Northwood, Orange, Southern Durham. Note: Could be a ripple effect if teams like Cardinal Gibbons, Franklinton, J.F. Webb and Person need some teams to pair up with because Rolesville ended up 4A and could not find a nearby replacement.

“Cape Fear Valley” Conference: Harnett Central, Lee County, Southern Lee, Triton, Union Pines, Western Harnett. Note: It looks solid, but can’t rule out a ripple effect if other conferences need more teams.

“Two Rivers” Conference: CB Aycock, Clayton, Cleveland, Smithfield-Selma, South Johnston, Southern Wayne, West Johnston. Note: Johnston County was ideally hoping to have a 3A/4A split with a few of its Harnett County neighbors, but the new alignment rules that out - only Corinth Holders would be 4A. A Johnston-Wayne version of the Two Rivers works well.

Untitled Conference: Cardinal Gibbons, East Wake, Franklinton, J.F. Webb, Person, Rolesville. Note: if Rolesville reaches 4A numbers, this league would have just five members - one short of the minimum. A conference like this would be where Southeast Raleigh or Knighdale would land if they were below the 3A line. East Wake is reorganizing its school, which should increase enrollment, but only time will tell if that’s enough to stay 4A.


“Northern Carolina” Conference: Bunn, Northern Vance, Roanoke Rapids, South Granville, Southern Vance, Warren County. Note: This would be a compact conference if it can stay at six teams. Warren County is a very small 2A, however. The only differences from this draft to the current NCC are having Northern Vance instead of Franklinton and not having Durham School of the Arts and N.C. Science & Math.

Eastern Plains” Conference: Beddingfield, Eastern Wayne, Goldsboro, Nash Central, North Johnston, SouthWest Edgecombe. Note: The new alignment increases the number of 2A teams, which increases the liklihood of a league like this, where North Johnston won’t have to travel to Greenville and beyond.

“Mid-State 2A” Conference: Bartlett-Yancey, Carrboro, Cummings, Durham School of Arts, Graham, N.C. Science & Math, Reidsville. Note: There’s a chance the Mid-State could simply stay the same with Jordan-Matthews as its sixth member and DSA and NCSSM remaining in the Northern Carolina. It doesn’t look like any of these teams are near the 3A or 1A cutoff lines.


“Carolina 1A” Conference: East Wake Academy, Eastern NC School for Deaf, Hobbton, Neuse Charter, North Duplin, Princeton, Rosewood, Spring Creek. Note: Only five of these schools play football and East Wake Academy might want to stay put in the North Central Athletic. Eastern NC School of the Deaf would likely stay independent. It’s a good bet Hobbton, Neuse Charter, North Duplin, Princeton, Rosewood and Princeton stay together.

“North Central Athletic” Conference: Franklin Academy, Granville Central, Kestrel Heights, Louisburg, Raleigh Charter, Research Triangle, Roxboro Community, Voyager Academy. Note: There’s almost no way the NCHSAA would try to make a league with only three football-playing members. Scheduling for those teams would be a nightmare. Granville Central and Louisburg would almost certainly be on the move.

Yadkin Valley East” Conference: Chatham Central, Chatham Charter, North Moore, River Mill Academy, Uwharrie Charter, Woods Charter. Note: Again, only two of those teams play football. The better indicator of what happens over here is what next year’s actual Yadkin Valley East division looks like once Uwharrie Charter and Chatham Charter join. Is there a chance to combine these teams with the proposed North Central Athletic to help these teams find enough games in all sports?