Thursday, December 1, 2011

First draft at realignment could impact Eastern Plains Conference

The N.C. High School Athletic Association has unveiled its first attempt at conference realignment for the four-year period beginning in the fall of 2013.

Before I comment further on this scenario, let me say that the process usually involves several steps and won't be finalized until May, 2012. Let's hope that changes are made because the first draft means big changes for the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference. The EPC currently has Beddingfield, Greene Central, Farmville Central, Kinston, North Pitt, SouthWest Edgecombe and Tarboro as members. But Tarboro is destined for the 1-A ranks so the Vikings will likely join what is now the 1-A Tar-Roanoke Conference and be North Edgecombe's main rival.

The biggest change, however, involves sending Greene Central and Kinston to a new conference with Ayden-Grifton, Goldsboro, Midway, North Lenoir and South Lenoir. The four remaining EPC schools — Beddingfield, North Pitt, Farmville Central and SW Edgecombe — would be joined by Cleveland, North Johnston and Washington. However, now it appears that Cleveland will remain a 3-A school, per an announcement by the NCHSAA on Friday, so that would probably mean North Johnston wouldn't be shunted off to the EPC without a nearby rival.

If that happens, I don't see Greene Central leaving the EPC. My guess is that there will be a lot of lobbying from Snow Hill to keep the Rams in the conference they've belonged since anyone can remember.

The 3-A Big East Conference will not be broken up but will likely add Corinth Holders. Given that Corinth Holders is about 17 miles from Southern Nash, that seems like it will stick. I've been told by sources close to Corinth Holders that would be preferable to joining the 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference, which will look mostly the same with Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne, Southern Wayne, South Johnston and Triton being joined by Smithfield-Selma. Cleveland would be likely to go either back to the ECC or the Big East.

The NCHSAA is trying to do away with split conferences and, as far as eastern North Carolina goes, the classification changes of some schools will help. Bertie and Hertford County will be legitimate 2-A schools and the Northeastern Coastal Conference will no longer be a 2-A/3-A league and just a 2-A one. In Pitt County, South Central and D.H. Conley will move up to the 4-A ranks and join Rose and New Bern. However, the first draft shows Clayton and West Johnston in that league which would mean a lot of travel, especially the grueling Clayton-to-New Bern trek.

There's sure to be lots more discussion on realignment as the game of musical chairs begins. Please add your perspective below because there's no end to the possibilities.