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The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)

One year into a massive overhaul that scrambled the state's 315 public high schools, local coaches and administrators learned this week that more changes are likely coming.

The Virginia High School League's initial conference alignment plan for 2015-16 sends 10 South Hampton Roads high schools to new conferences or classifications.

The plan, using enrollment figures from March 31 of this year, reunites some old rivals: Kellam joins six other former Beach District members in Group 6A as part of the Coastal Conference (Conference 1).

But the plan also sends some local schools into lower classifications. Great Bridge moves to Group 4A, while Booker T. Washington, Norcom and Lakeland are headed to Group 3A.

"It is a very drastic change for a number of schools," said David Rhodes, coordinator of student activities for Virginia Beach Schools. "This is one committee's proposal, so nothing is guaranteed until they vote on it. But it is a drastic change from what we've done the past few years."

In its biggest overhaul in more than 40 years, the VHSL for the 2013-14 school year scrapped its three-classification system and divided the state's public schools for postseason according to enrollment into six classes: from the smallest schools in Group 1A to the largest in Group 6A.

South Hampton Roads schools - all previously members of Group AAA - were spread over Group 6A, Group 5A and Group 4A.

The 2015-16 plan further spreads area teams, moving some to Group 3A.

The VHSL had announced previously that enrollment figures would be used to tweak high school alignment every two years.

The league's alignment committee will hear appeals on the 2015-16 plan Aug. 11 and then present its final recommendation to the league's executive committee for approval Sept. 17. The new plan would go into effect in the fall of 2015.

If the new plan is approved, Great Bridge and King's Fork would be in Conference 17 with Churchland, Deep Creek, Lake Taylor and Wilson.

For the current two-year cycle Great Bridge is in Group 5A, and its conference rivals include schools on the Peninsula and far-flung Gloucester. The 2015 plan keeps Great Bridge in South Hampton Roads for conference play.

"It looks like for us the travel times would be less," Great Bridge baseball coach Sean Townsend said. "But it would be disappointing if we don't maintain the natural rivalries with schools like Hickory and Western Branch. I don't see having the same rivalries we have now."

The 2015-16 plan also would move Granby to a new conference. The Comets would remain in Group 6A, but join the Monitor-Merrimac Conference (Conference 2) with Grassfield, Oscar Smith, Woodside and Western Branch.

Along with Kellam joining its former Beach rivals, some Peninsula schools would be reunited. The PenSouth (Conference 10) would include Bethel, Gloucester, Hampton, Kecoughtan, Menchville and Warwick. Also joining them: Nansemond River.

In Group 3A, Conference 27 would feature Booker T. Washington, Norcom, Lakeland, Phoebus, Tabb and York.

Jami Frankenberry, 757-446-2376,

Twitter @JamiVP

July 2, 2014
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