Every two years, for many years, the League makes subtle adjustments to the lineups of regions due to both changes in enrollment numbers for schools as well as the addition of new schools opening. The biggest change to the 2013 reset took place in 2017 when, after four years, all conferences, which were ostensibly created to replace the long-time "districts", were disbanded.
Since the 2017-18 school year, playoffs have consisted of two levels: region and state. Now, as we hope to begin a "normal" school academic and athletic session in 2021-22, it's time for the shift which occurs once every two years.
But this season, that shift is bigger than usual.
We will now walk you through all the changes, and how they may affect football in the fall, and other sports as well. Read carefully to see if your school has made a change, and, if you are still in Class 5, get ready for a whole new region.
REGION A: Cosby, Franklin County, Grassfield, James River, Kellam, Landstown, Manchester, Ocean Lakes, Oscar Smith, Thomas Dale, Western Branch
Changes: After a two-year stint in Class 5, Region B, Manchester returns to Class 6, giving RVA five teams in the League's biggest classification. Tallwood moved down to Class 5, so the region stays at eleven teams.
Football: This, sadly, takes some of the luster off the September 3rd showdown between Manchester and Highland Springs. While a win for either will help in their respective playoff race, it won't directly affect each other now that they aren't in the same class/region anymore.
Elsewhere: A rebuilding Manchester softball team returns to Cosby's domain as the Titans celebrate their first state championship since 2012. Boys basketball, should they continue their upswing, could certainly benefit here.
REGION C: Clover Hill, Deep Run, Douglas Freeman, Glen Allen, Hermitage, Highland Springs, J.R. Tucker, L.C. Bird, Meadowbrook, Midlothian, Mills Godwin, Prince George
Changes: We begin with the name. Yes, these twelve teams are now in Class 5, Region C, not Region B, as there were so many schools in Tidewater in the classification (19), they were split into two regions, taking over Region B. It also means that Region D is, by far, the biggest of the four regions in Class 5 with sixteen teams, including the recently (2019) opened Independence, which leaps from Class 3, and includes the likes of Massaponax, Patrick Henry-Roanoke, Riverside, and Stone Bridge. None of the twelve teams are new to Class 5; all are holdovers.
Football: Highland Springs sees their two biggest recent rivals for regional supremacy in Manchester and Varina leave, as the Lancers return to Class 6 and the Blue Devils move down to Class 4 (more on that shortly). With a surprise coaching change at Hermitage, who will step up to compete with the Springers? Can Prince George, who plays Highland Springs in September, keep their upward trajectory? Can Midlothian? And when will L.C. Bird return to their once-powerful status? Keep an eye on Glen Allen, as well as to coaching changes at both Deep Run and Mills Godwin.
Elsewhere: First, L.C. Bird sees Varina boys basketball leave, as well as Henrico, who is undergoing a coaching transition. It will be interesting to see who can climb up the ranks and challenge the Skyhawks, as well as intrigue in girls hoops to see who will challenge both the Skyhawks and perennial power Highland Springs. In softball, Atlee departs for Class 4, while Glen Allen has to replace Emerson Aiken. In baseball, can a Midlothian or Prince George threaten the West End juggernaut currently experienced by Mills Godwin and Glen Allen, and can Deep Run and Douglas Freeman rebound next spring? In lacrosse, Douglas Freeman sees their most competitive rival, Atlee, disappear.
Region B: Atlee, Chancellor, Courtland, Dinwiddie, Eastern View, George Wythe, Hanover, Henrico, Huguenot, King George, Matoaca, Mechanicsville, Monacan, Patrick Henry, Powhatan, Spotsylvania, Varina
Changes: There's a lot to digest here. Four area schools truly change the dynamic of this region, as Atlee, Henrico, Matoaca and Varina arrive. The proposal for this region had a preposterous twenty schools here, after Caroline petitioned, and was granted, a move down to Class 3. Later, Louisa, Orange and Western Albemarle agreed to spend the next two seasons in Region D rather than B. So, come playoff time, the Lions will look to the west and south, where they may face the likes of E.C. Glass, GW-Danville, Halifax, or even Pulaski.
Football: First, Louisa departs. They've been a powerhouse, and will continue to be a force in Class 4, just in a different region. Meanwhile, the Varina Blue Devils arrive, and they figure to take Louisa's place in the mix at the top of the region. Henrico's arrival comes with a big question mark as the Warriors seemed to have peaked a few years ago and need a bounce back this fall. Matoaca is usually a mystery, while Atlee doesn't have the numbers they used to. The great news here is that all four Hanover County schools are in the region, the first time that they won't split apart in some form or fashion come playoff time in nearly a decade, so Friday nights in Hanover will mean even more. Is King George a one-year wonder? Will Powhatan or Hanover take the next step and get to the top eight as we return to a full complement of playoff teams this fall? Still, only eight of seventeen make the cut. Look for Class 4 to be just as talked about as Class 5 this season.
Elsewhere: The defending Class 4 state girls basketball champions, Louisa, moves to Region D. Good news for Monacan, as well as Patrick Henry, who both look to have strong seasons upcoming. In boys basketball, Varina and Henrico will make immediate impacts, while Atlee and Matoaca look to make their presence count. Field hockey will be quite interesting this fall with Atlee and Matoaca now in the mix. Even with a new coach, Atlee girls volleyball should be a region favorite, while we could finally see the first boys volleyball playoff match between rivals Atlee and Patrick Henry in five years. Who can dethrone the now five-time state champion Patriots? In softball, Hanover sees their region final opponent in 2021, Orange, head for Region D, but sees their biggest 2021 rival, Atlee, arrive. Add in the usuals (Powhatan, Dinwiddie, Patrick Henry), and it should be another fun spring. Also, can Atlee lacrosse and track and field finally get over the hump now that they are in Class 4? Of note, Lake Taylor departs Class 4 for Class 3. That's big down the line for football, then basketball.
REGION A: Booker T. Washington, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, I.C. Norcom, Lafayette, Lakeland, Lake Taylor, New Kent, Park View-South Hill, Petersburg, Phoebus, Southampton, Tabb, York
REGION B: Armstrong, Brentsville District, Caroline, Culpeper, Goochland, James Monroe, Maggie Walker GS, Manassas Park, Meridian (formerly George Mason), Skyline, Warren County, William Monroe
Changes: In Region 3A, here comes Lake Taylor, an immediate threat to Lafayette, Hopewell, and others this fall in football. In Region 3B, Caroline and Culpeper arrive, with some squads from each school capable of making waves. 3A has 14 schools, 3B has 12, while 3C is the biggest with 16 schools, including Charlottesville, Fluvanna, and Liberty Christian.
Football: The Titans arrive and will impact Region 3A greatly. But Hopewell, Lafayette, Phoebus, et al will accept the challenge without a sweat. In Region 3B, where 11 of the 12 teams play (Maggie Walker doesn't have a team), it still looks good for Goochland to play near or at the top of the region.
Elsewhere: Lake Taylor will certainly affect basketball, too, and Caroline may have an easier time of making and possibly advancing in boys basketball as well.
REGION A: Amelia, Arcadia, Bluestone, Bruton, Brunswick, Greensville, John Marshall, King William, Nandua, Nottoway, Poquoson, Prince Edward, Thomas Jefferson, Windsor
Football: The return to play of Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall is welcomed, as King William looks to ascend again to the top of the region. Amelia and Poquoson were competitive in the spring as well. This will be a fun region to follow this fall.
Elsewhere: With no changes here (one of the few regions to enjoy such a status), look for business as usual in 2021-22, including John Marshall boys basketball looking to return to a state championship they won in 2020, but couldn't defend in 2021 due to COVID-19.
REGION A: Colonial Beach, Charles City, Chincoteague, Essex, King & Queen Central, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northampton, Northumberland, Rappahannock, Washington & Lee, West Point
Football: Onward and upward as King & Queen Central looks to take the top spot with Essex looking to do the same. We're really hoping Charles City has the numbers to return to full play this fall.
Elsewhere: One of only six regions in the Commonwealth to experience no changes in the mid-cycle, we pick up where we left off last season.