The Virginia High School League's plan to expand to six classifications may be the best idea they have had in many years.
I'll admit when I first heard that they may be expanding to six classes, I was a little skeptical. It seems like a lot.
A lot of champions, a lot of complications, a lot of travel and a lot of money.
However, after looking at a breakdown of how things would work, I think this six-class idea might be a good thing.
Teams would play in districts and play their schedules just like they always have. Each district can elect to have a district tournament if they want, but they don't have to.
I hope that the districts in our area would continue to have their tournaments. I think most players, coaches and fans enjoy the district tournaments, and I'd hate to see them come to an end.
The districts in the area would stay mostly the same as they have been.
Stonewall Jackson would still be in the Shenandoah District with Buffalo Gap, East Rockingham, Luray, Page County, Riverheads, Stuarts Draft and Wilson Memorial. Warren County would join the Bull Run District and be there along with Strasburg, Central, Clarke County, Madison County, George Mason, William Monroe and Rappahannock County. Skyline and Sherando would still be in the Northwestern District with Handley, Millbrook and James Wood.
After a possible district tournament, each team would advance to conference tournaments. A conference champion will be crowned and the champion and runner-up move on to regionals.
Strasburg and Stonewall Jackson would be in a 2A conference with Clarke County, Madison County, George Mason, Luray, Page County and John Champe (a new Loudoun County school). Central, Skyline and Warren County would be in a 3A conference with Manassas Park, Loudoun Valley, William Monroe and Brentsville. Sherando would be in a 4A conference with Woodgrove, Millbrook, James Wood, Handley, Loudoun County, Dominion, Heritage and Park View.
Each class would have two regionals, and teams would play it out until a regional champion is crowned. Then the regional champions and runners-up advance to a state tournament, where the final four teams would battle it out for the state title.
For most sports, the VHSL has come up with a rating system which could help determine seedings in the postseason. Each team would get seven points for every win, and one point for every loss to a school one level above their classification. Two points would be awarded for every loss to a school two levels above their classification, three points for every loss to a school three levels above their classification, and four or five points for every loss to a team four or five classifications above their classification.
The total number of points would then be divided by the total number of contests played to give the school its power rating average.
The ratings for football would be handled differently. Teams would get 26 points for every win over a 6A team and 14 for a loss. They would get 25 points for a win over a 5A team and 13 for a loss. They would get 22 for beating a 4A team and 10 for a loss. They would get 21 points for a win over a 3A team and 9 for a loss. They would get 18 points for a win over a 2A team and 6 for a loss. They would get 17 points for a win over a 1A team and 5 for a loss. They would also still get two points for every win a team you beat gets, and one point for every win a team you lose to gets.
The VHSL still needs to figure out how to handle the postseason for individual sports, but they still have some time to do that.
I know as you're reading this you're probably thinking that this sounds complicated, but it's a little easier to look at on paper than it is to explain. It appears more and more athletic directors and coaches are warming up to the idea of six classes, and it's looking like there's a good chance this will happen.
The most important thing is that with six classes, the enrollment number for each class are much closer together than they were before. That means that more teams will have a chance to be successful in every sport. At the end of the day, that should be the most important thing, because it should always be about the athletes.
Certainly, there's things that will need to be tweaked with the six-class system and I'm sure that will happen down the road. However, I think moving to six classes is a step in the right direction.