Warren County, Skyline, Sherando may be part of 13-team district

Warren County High School may leave the Bull Run District after the 2016-2017 high school season.

Warren County, along with Skyline and Sherando high schools, will be joining with 10 other schools to form a new district – the biggest in Virginia – if it receives approval from the Virginia High School League.

Warren County athletic director Ed Dike said the Fauquier County schools wanted to go with the Northwestern District to ease things up for the 4A schools.

“Well it was a no-brainer for us just to go along with it,” Dike said. “That way the (Group) 4A’s play the 4A’s. The 3A’s play the 3A’s, and we can cross if we want to. It just seems like a no-brainer.”

Warren County and William Monroe high schools would both leave the Bull Run District to join the new district. All five of the Northwestern District schools — Skyline, Sherando, James Wood, Millbrook and Handley — would be part of the new district. The other six schools would be Brentsville, Culpeper County, Fauquier, Kettle Run, Liberty and Manassas Park, all of which are in the Evergreen District.

There would be seven Group 4A schools and six 3A schools. In most sports the Group 3A schools would play each other twice and the 4A schools would play each other twice. Then each team can play some of the other teams in the district, not in their classification, once if they want to, which would make scheduling games easier.

Dike said that the idea has been discussed for a couple of months and the athletic directors have received approval from their schools to do it. He said that letters from each school were sent together to the VHSL last week to request that the new district be formed. Dike said he thinks it goes to the redistricting and reclassification committee in June, and then would be voted on in July.

“Hopefully the VHSL will allow us to do this,” Dike said. “I think it’s beneficial to all 13 schools involved.”

The current district alignment for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 years calls for no changes among area schools.

Warren County and William Monroe are the only two Group 3A schools in the Bull Run District, with the rest being all 2A schools. Skyline is the only 3A school in the five-team Northwestern District with four 4A schools.

Dike said the new district would make things much easier when it comes to seeding for regionals. Starting with the 2017-18 season there will be no more conferences and every team will advance to regionals in every sport, except for football where the format will stay the same.

“We were just trying to figure out how to get rid of some headaches,” Dike said. “I think this is a step in the right direction, in all honesty.”

If the new district is approved, the Bull Run District will be down to six teams, and only five for football since Rappahannock County does not play football in any district.

Strasburg athletic director Matt Hiserman said the district is already making plans in case the district is approved. He said the toughest obstacle would be for football. Most teams have already figured out their football schedules for the 2017-18 football season.

“If they aren’t there, we’ve done some things to try to find some football games,” Hiserman said. “All of us are trying to make back-up plans if they’re not there – who we’re going to have and how we’re going to fit in some football games. We’re all going to have to find six football games. I think most of us have found at least four or five, and that way if something happens and they end up back (in the Bull Run) then we’re OK and we’re set up.”

If Warren County and William Monroe leave, the Bull Run District would consist of Strasburg, Central, Clarke County, Madison County, George Mason and Rappahannock County high schools. All but Rappahannock County (1A) are 2A schools.

Hiserman said that six is a good number to have, but they would probably try to go back to eight schools at some point down the road in the Bull Run.

“We’d like to have eight where you got enough schools to play football, and you don’t have to find as many football games,” Hiserman said. “That would be nice, but if you start pulling teams from the Shenandoah District you’re going to have George Mason whose kind of the outlier down there as far as districting. You start pulling Page, Luray, Stonewall, East Rock, somebody like that, it’s a long travel for them to make.”

If approved, the new district would be the biggest one in the state. The Virginia Beach schools did something similar and now have an 11-team district made up of 5A and 6A schools.

Dike said it only took a few meetings to get an agreement on the district ironed out by the 13 athletic directors.

“Believe it or not, the 13 of us seem to get along pretty good,” Dike said. “When we got all 13 of us together, we thought there was probably going to be some tough times, but it all just kind of fell into place. … Hopefully it will work out great. Everybody seems real happy with it.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com