Seeing triple

Published 10:57 pm Thursday, August 27, 2015

A complicated play

A complicated play

Sizing up the playoff picture in previous years for Suffolk’s public schools may not have always been simple, but the schools were still part of one big picture. Now each will be part of separate, unrelated pictures.

The Virginia High School League’s realignment in 2013 shook things up, but King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond River high schools all had the same classification — Group 4A — and they all were in the same conference — the Ironclad Conference.

Two years later, the time came for the VHSL to re-evaluate this change, and now Nansemond River is moving up to 5A, Lakeland is moving down to 3A and King’s Fork is staying put in 4A. None of the schools will share a conference anymore, and none of them will be in the same conference they were in last year.

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“It is what it is,” King’s Fork activities director Randy Jessee said. “We don’t have any say in what goes on with it. It’s based strictly on numbers.”

The VHSL’s member schools used to be organized into three group classifications based on enrollment: A, AA and AAA. Schools with the largest enrollments were in Group AAA, and those with the smallest enrollments were in Group A.

Starting in 2013, in part to give more schools a shot at state championships, the organization decided to break its member schools into six groups based on enrollment.

Suffolk’s three public schools were around the same size in 2013, and so they were all 4A schools.

Conferences contain only teams with the same classification, so from 2013 to 2015, the Bulldogs, Cavaliers and Warriors could share a conference and continue their rivalries, with their games against each other carrying postseason implications.

Now, Nansemond River is too big for 4A and Lakeland is too small for it.

“We’ve gone from being one of the smallest 4A schools to one of the bigger 3A schools,” Lakeland activities director Gregory Rountree said.

Each Suffolk public school now has its own conference it has to wade through in order to advance in the postseason, and there will be no possibility of Suffolk vs. Suffolk games in the postseason.

At least until 2017, Nansemond River is part of Conference 10 along with fellow 5A schools Bethel, Gloucester, Hampton, Kecoughtan, Menchville and Warwick.

NR is unique in what has been known as the PenSouth Conference.

“We’re the only school on this side of the river,” Nansemond River activities director Kristy Brett said.

Lakeland is part of Conference 27 along with fellow 3A schools I.C. Norcom, Phoebus, Tabb, Booker T. Washington and York high schools.

King’s Fork is part of Conference 17 along with fellow 4A schools Churchland, Deep Creek, Great Bridge, Lake Taylor and Woodrow Wilson high schools.

Suffolk public schools will still face off against each other during the regular season, but the postseason implications of such games will be limited in most cases.

Football will be a bit of an exception since it uses power points to determine which teams will make the playoffs.

For example, playing a team from a higher classification can mean a significant number of power points for the team from the lower classification, because the points system rewards teams taking on what is expected to be a challenging opponent.

This means there will be plenty to fuel the Cavaliers’ and Bulldogs’ fire when they meet the Warriors on the gridiron, and Nansemond River will not want to take the hit of losing to a 4A or 3A team.