Now it appears to be a done deal.
The VHSL six-classification model was approved Wednesday morning when the full Executive Committee convened. The committee ruled on final appeals for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 cycle last week, another key step in a thorough, time-consuming process. That brought the six-class system to the floor in front of the executive committee today where it cleared its final hurdle.
Charlottesville principal Thomas Taylor, a member of the executive committee, posted on Twitter this morning that: The “VHSL is now a 6A Classification System – to take effect in the next cycle – CHS will now be in 4A North, Conference 23.” Taylor confirmed via reply to Scrimmage Play it was official, and a another email from an official confirmed that was indeed the case.
The new model tosses out some key elements that have been a part of prep competition for years in search of a more equitable process. The basics? Six classes based on school enrollment replace the old Group AAA/AA/A breakdown. District placement will be centered more around geography than school enrollment, which means teams will compete for district titles across classifications. That’s creating the new-look Jefferson District of Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna County, Louisa County, Monticello, Orange County, Powhatan and Western Albemarle. With those teams grouped together, there should be a direct increase in regular season gate revenue at local schools.
District play won’t determine postseason play, which seems poised to adopt an all-in approach for non-football sports, with conference play (which is focused on school enrollment) replacing regional tournaments. From there, teams will advance to Sectional play, with two sections splitting the state into North and South and/or East and West sections within each of the six classifications.
Here’s a look at where the local schools will fall within the new system when it’s adopted next year that we put together in August. It includes conference alignment, which will serve as the first level of postseason play in most instances.
Central Virginia doesn’t have any squads in the 6A classification.
The enrollment range in class 5A is 1,854 to 1,473, with a span of less than 400 students.
Albemarle is a middle of the road school as far as enrollment for 5A at 1737, a little more than 100 below the biggest school, Freedom in Prince William County, and a little less than 300 more students than the smallest school, Ashland’s Patrick Henry.
Orange County is near the bottom of 5A at 1,490 — the class’s third smallest school. But the Hornets did not pursue an appeal to move down and that appears to be a wise choice. For one, 4A is, arguably, just as challenging as 5A. With football powers like Amherst, Powhatan, Louisa, Phoebus and cross-sport powers like Loudoun County, Jefferson Forest and Salem in 4A, there’s little competitive advantage to a move down. Another reason is that with the tight range of enrollment, Orange County should be competitive at 5A.
Albemarle and Orange are in Conference 16 with Halifax County. OCHS and AHS will both play in the modified Jefferson District as well.
The enrollment range in 4A is 1,468 to 1,118
Powhatan and Louisa will sit comfortably right around the top 25 percent of the 51 4A schools with identical enrollments of 1368 each. On the other end of the spectrum, Fluvanna County at 1147 and Charlottesville at 1158 would be near the bottom of 4A, as the fourth and fifth smallest schools.
Charlottesville, Fluvanna and Louisa County would be a part of Conference 23 in the 4A North while Powhatan would be a part of Conference 19 in the 4A South. Harrisonburg, John Handley and Amherst are also in Conference 23. Powhatan’s conference foes would be Grafton, Smithfield, Jamestown, Tabb and Warhill.
All four 4A schools would be a part of the new-look Jefferson District. The new JD’s largest school would be Albemarle at 1,741 students while the smallest would be Western Albemarle with 1,034 students.
The enrollment range for 3A is 1,112 to 750 and Monticello sits near the top of 3A at 1,077 total enrollment. Western Albemarle is in the middle with 1,030 and William Monroe is nearer to the bottom with 811 students, 12th smallest in the class.
Western and Monticello will play in the Jefferson while Monroe competes in the Bull Run with Central Woodstock, Clarke County, Madison County, George Mason, Rappahannock, Strasburg and Warren County.
The Warriors and Mustangs will compete in Conference 29 in the 3A West (Monticello successfully appealed placement in Conference 30) with Spotswood, Stuarts Draft, Turner Ashby, Waynesboro, Fort Defiance and Broadway. Monroe will compete in Conference 28 in the 3A East.
In 2A, the enrollment range is 728 students to 494 students.
Goochland is at the top of the range, the fourth biggest school in 2A with a population of 716, just 12 off the largest school, R.E. Lee-Staunton
Madison County is at 587, near the midway point. Buckingham is at 603 in the same range and Nelson is at 592.
On the conference level, Madison County will compete in Conference 35 in the 2A East with Clarke, Mason, Strasburg, Stonewall Jackson (Quicksburg), Luray and Page County. Nelson County is slated for Conference 36 ] in the 2A East with R.E. Lee, Riverheads, Wilson Memorial, Buffalo Gap and East Rockingham. Goochland will compete in Conference 34 in the 2A East with Brunswick, Greensville, Bluestone, Nottoway, Prince Edward and Amelia County. Buckingham is slotted in Conference 37 in 2A West, joining Appomattox, Chatham, Dan River, Gretna and Randolph-Henry.
Madison will compete with William Monroe in the Bull Run, Buckingham and Goochland would stay in the James River while Nelson stays in the Dogwood. Both the James River and the Dogwood look largely as they have before, though Prince Edward, currently in Group AA, enters the James River.
There are no Central Virginia schools in the 1A grouping.