Saturday, February 9, 2008

North Johnston gets its realignment wish

It looks like North Johnston will get its wish but Hertford County and Goldsboro will not as the N.C. High School Athletic Association prepares for realignment.

In the first stab at realignment in November, the NCHSAA moved North Johnston from the 1-A Carolina Conference to the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference. Officials at North Johnston realized there was little they could do about the growing school's move to the 2-A ranks but preferred to join the league with Bunn, Louisburg, Warren County, Franklinton, Northwest Halifax and Roanoke Rapids.

This week the NCHSAA released its next round of proposals, which will stay in place while schools appeal the decision. The final conferences will be announced in March but there will be an April 1 deadline for appeals based on procedural errors. In May, the NCHSAA Board of Directors will convene to consider those appeals and make the final decision.

North Johnston was switched to the 2-A Conference No. 4 (yet to be named) with Bunn, Louisburg, Warren County, Franklinton, Northwest Halifax and Roanoke Rapids. The 2-A Conference No. 3, which looks very much like the Eastern Plains Conference, has existing EPC members Farmville Central, Greene Central, North Pitt and Tarboro along with former EPC affiliate SouthWest Edgecombe, which will move back to the 2-A ranks out of the 3-A NEW 6. Finally, 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference refugees Beddingfield and Kinston will complete the new seven-team EPC.

It really was six of one and half dozen of the other for North Johnston. It would be the seventh member of either conference (seven is an odd number for conference membership) and the travel distance probably is a wash, too. Maybe it came down to North Johnston not being eager ton make the move to 2-A by joining a conference with recent 3-A schools like Beddingfield and SouthWest.

Goldsboro is out of the EPC, along with North Lenoir. Goldsboro protested its move to the 1-A ranks, taking North Johnston's place in the 1-A Carolina Conference, but it seems the NCHSAA isn't buying the notion that Goldsboro, once a mighty 4-A school, will increase its enrollment.

North Lenoir is headed to a new 3-A conference that will include former ECC members Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne along with Triton and South Johnston.

But what about Hertford County?

Hertford County's wishes to join what was basically the NEW 6, minus SouthWest Edgecombe, was rebuffed by the NCHSAA. Instead, Hertford County and Currituck County will remain with four other 2-A schools in the northeastern corner of the state in a mixed conference.

That completely makes sense given the high price of gas these days. Now Fike and Hunt will join Southern Nash, Northern Nash, Rocky Mount and Nash Central in the old NEW 6, which will probably need a new name like the Newer 6?

As far as I'm concerned, I would prefer to have all eight high schools in The Wilson Daily Times readership area — Fike, Hunt, Beddingfield, Southern Nash, SouthWest Edgecombe, Charles B. Aycock, North Johnston and Greene Central — in one conference. Now it looks like we'll be split up into four conferences with CBA and North Johnston off by themselves.

But the good news is that Fike and Hunt will be reunited with some nearby natural rivals like Southern Nash and Rocky Mount. And Beddingfield will join old friends Greene Central and SouthWest Edgecombe in the EPC.

Unless, of course, the NCHSAA changes its mind again — which it has been known to do.

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