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Starting with the 2013-14 school year, the high school sports landscape will look dramatically different.
The Virginia High School League (VHSL) has adopted a new structure, moving away from its current A, AA, AAA set-up.
Regions are gone and districts mean little in the new look, which is predicated on conferences. Said conferences are built based on school sizes and locations.
For example, today's AA Region III is made up of three districts (Seminole, Blue Ridge, Valley).
The 20 schools that make up Region III advance to State-level playoffs. They do so by claiming the Region III title (or, in some cases, runner-up status).
Those 20 schools now find themselves spread among 2A, 3A or 4A classifications. Additionally, they are now in six different conferences within those classifications. See box at end of this article.
The six levels are split, into either East/West or North/South.
For example, Liberty is now in Conference 30, which is in 3A-West, along with Conferences 29, 31 and 32.
Conference 30 consists of Heritage, Brookville, Rustburg, Liberty and Tunstall.
Conference 31 includes all of the Blue Ridge District teams (including Staunton River) plus Magna Vista, a member of the Piedmont District.
Jefferson Forest is in Conference 24, part of the larger-school 4A North. Conference 24 numbers JF, Glass, Pulaski County, Salem, GW-Danville, Carroll County, Bassett and William Fleming.
“The League membership has been studying and discussing this specific change since December,” said VHSL executive director Ken Tilley. “Considerable progress has already been made in developing details regarding future organization, playoffs, finances and other aspects. These efforts will continue over the coming months in preparation for the 2013-14 school year.”
While there is still much to be sorted out, two things are clear:
1. There will now be more state championship opportunities in non-football sports. Gone are the A, AA, AAA titles. New will be the 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A titles. (Football currently has Div. 1 through Div. 6 championships.)
2. Travel should be more onerous for our local teams, come playoff time. For example, district and regional tournaments involve reasonable travel. Now, JF, for example, could go to Carroll County or Danville for a first-round game.