The Virginia High School League released its "Initial Region Alignment Plan", which covers the four-year period from 2019-2020 to 2022-2023 on Wednesday morning, an exercise normally dominated by schools changing classes due to enrollment/population changes.
This normally means a few schools would have changes, but, in this new proposal, there are numerous changes, some major. We break it down by class.
CLASS 6: Currently, Cosby, Clover Hill, Thomas Dale, James River and Manchester populated the majority of the eight-team Region 6B. The new plan completely belows that up, and moves Cosby, Thomas Dale and James River, along with Colonial Forge, Riverbend and Franklin County into what's being called currently "6A West", a sub-region of Class 6, Region A. They are joined by newcomer Massaponax of Spotsylvania County, moving up from Class 5. The other half (seven teams) that comprise the "6A East" sub-region are all from the Tidewater area.
CLASS 5: The region with the most Richmond-area schools, Region 5B, expands from 15 to 17 teams. The headlines here are that Lee-Davis drops down to Class 4, while Midlothian moves up from Class 4. Clover Hill and Manchester drop from Class 6 to Class 5. So, the new Region 5B would contain:
Atlee, LC Bird, Clover Hill, Deep Run, Douglas Freeman, Glen Allen, Mills Godwin, Henrico, Hermitage, Highland Springs, Manchester, Matoaca, Meadowbrook, Midlothian, Prince George, J.R. Tucker and Varina.
As a fifteen-team region in 2017-18, only eight teams were taken for the playoffs in most sports, mirroring the football formula. If there is no expansion, come Fall 2019, the road to the postseason will become even tougher. It could be worse, however, as Region 5A, downtown in Tidewater, moves to 18 teams. Meanwhile, with Region C proposed to have just ten teams and Region D eight, trying to keep the regions geographically sound may be sacrificing opportunity for some quality teams to make the playoffs, while, in other Class 5 regions, the postseason would be more easily made.
CLASS 4: Region B, now at 13 schools, moves up to 15, as Midlothian leaves, replaced by Lee-Davis, while Orange County moves down from Class 5 and Spotsylvania moves up from Class 3. The new Region 4B would contain a land mass from Orange and Culpeper (Eastern View) to the northwest, east to King George, down Route 301 with Caroline and Hanover, down I-95, then I-85 to Dinwiddie, with Powhatan and Louisa to the west. Three of Hanover County's four schools would be in the same region, as Lee-Davis would join Hanover, a longtime member of Class 4 (formerly know as Group 4A) and Patrick Henry, who dropped down to Class 4 a year ago. Of note in other regions, Hampton and Menchville would drop from Class 5 to Class 4 in Region A, while Tuscarora, who played Highland Springs in the 2015 and 2016 Class 5 State Football Championship games, drops down to Class 4 in Region C.
CLASS 3: In Region A, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, New Kent and Petersburg would be joined by Lafayette near Williamsburg for a 13-team group. Also at 13 teams would be Region 3B, with Goochland and Maggie Walker Governors School moving up from Class 2 to join Armstrong and George Wythe. They, however, would be four teams with nine far away neighbors, as Central of Woodstock, Independence, a new school scheduled to open in Fall, 2019 in Loudoun County, and George Mason of Falls Church would be added to holdovers like Brentsville District, James Monroe, William Monroe, Skyline, Manassas Park and Warren County.
CLASS 2: The big news here is John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson dropping to Class 2 in Region A, joining Amelia, King William and Nottoway.
A few changes are also brewing in the realigned district proposal. Districts haven't been used for playoff purposes in the Richmond area since May, 2013, but are still used as guidelines for regular seasons scheduling. The highlight would be Powhatan moving from the Jefferson to the Dominion District, making it a ten-team district. If all current Dominion teams are forced to add Powhatan to their football schedules, it would allow for just one non-district game for each team, down from the current two, unless teams petition to not play district opponents two or more classes above/below team for competitive reasons. Powhatan's football schedule would be completely different.
Petitions for changes to the proposed plans must be received by the VHSL by July 11. An appeals hearing is scheduled for August 21 in Charlottesville. We don't expect a final decision until Fall.