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Keeler: New classes working out well

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Tommy Keeler (Buy photo)


I'm just going to admit it.

When the new six-classification system was introduced I thought it was going to be big trouble for the local teams. The local teams would have to face teams such as Phoebus, Lake Taylor and G.W. Danville in 4A, Richmond-area schools Hopewell and Petersburg in 3A and Brunswick and Bruton in 2A.

This is a small community that suddenly was forced to play schools in much bigger areas, and on paper that could be big trouble for the local teams. Of course, sports aren't played on paper and that was proven this year.

This area has had plenty of success this season and is doing just fine in the new six-classification system.

The season is almost over and Strasburg will play Randolph-Henry in the Group 2A baseball state semifinals. If they win that game the Rams could face Virginia High School, which won three Group AA state titles in the 1990s. Sherando will face Hanover in the Group 4A state semifinals at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Hanover, the defending Group AAA state champions, has three Division I players on its team, but I think it's safe to say the Warriors, the defending Group AA state champions, won't be intimidated.

"They're a quality team. We're going to show up on Friday at three o'clock and we're going to believe in ourselves," Sherando coach Pepper Martin said. "We're going to trust our teammates, and we're going to give it the best shot we can give it. An analogy on paper might be like David and Goliath, but everybody knows what happened to Goliath."

Sherando senior Reid Entsminger said the Warriors look forward to the challenge of playing last year's Group AAA state champs.

"It just shows that divisions don't really matter, if we win," Entsminger said. "It would be nice for the double A [champ] to beat the triple A [champ] from last year."

Sherando went all the way to the state finals in football, and although they lost to a strong Dinwiddie squad they still made a game of it for quite a while. The Warriors had a very good team. At the end of the day if you have a good team you have a chance to go far no matter what class you play in.

Central's girls basketball team also made it to the state semifinals. They lost to traditional powerhouse Spotswood, which basically stayed in the same class that they were in. Along the way to the semifinals, the Falcons knocked off John Marshall, a Richmond-area school, and lost a close game in the regional championship to Huguenot, another Richmond-area school.

All in all, it's been a pretty successful season, and I am liking the new six-classification system.

There are certainly a few kinks to work out, one of them might be what to do with the track and field meets. I heard complaints at last weekend's Group 3A and 4A meets in Harrisonburg about both classes having a meet at the same place. I think it's OK to have the meets at the same place, but the schedule needs to be adjusted. It probably wouldn't hurt to have more events scheduled on Friday so that everything wasn't so crammed together on Saturday.

It made for a very long day for everyone. However, this is just a minor thing that can easily be tweaked. I expect more tweaks to come.

I also think eventually districts, and especially district tournaments may be completely eliminated. It just seems like a waste. The tournaments are only for a trophy, and the regular-season games only really mean something if you're playing a conference opponent. So, why not play all of your conference opponents and make that the new districts?

It's taken a while to get used to some of the new terms such as conferences, Region 3A East, Region 4A North, but I think the new system works.

One of the big things that I was worried about was having dynasties in some of the sports where big city schools might dominate. While it's a little early to tell about that, I think for the most part that won't happen very often. Football in 4A is an example of that. Everyone thought mighty Phoebus would win it all, but they lost in the early rounds of the playoffs.

I think there will be enough balance to keep things interesting. Maybe more importantly, I think that the area teams will have plenty of opportunities to have lots of success even at the state tournament level.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd




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