Sherando could be moving to Group 5A in VHSL realignment

Sherando's Joseph Doleman eyes a loose ball in the first quarter of the Warriors' Group 4A playoff game against Woodgrove on Nov. 20. Sherando could be moving up to Group 5A starting in the fall of 2017. Rich Cooley/Daily file

The Virginia High School League’s newest realignment proposal has Sherando moving to Group 5A starting with the 2017-18 school year.

Sherando is a Group 4A school. The VHSL released the latest average daily membership numbers on Thursday, and Sherando would be the sixth smallest Group 5A school. Sherando had 1,533 students as of the March 31 numbers.

“I think there’s been tremendous growth in Frederick County over the years,” Sherando Coordinator of Student Activities Jason Barbe said. “The enrollment numbers have been going up. So I can’t say we’re totally surprised by what we saw. We have a lot of kids here.”

Sherando could appeal the decision to move up, but would have to do so by July 11. On Aug. 4, the VHSL alignment committee will meet to hear all appeals and then finalize the plan for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.

Barbe said he doesn’t know if they will appeal, but said they would only appeal if the school felt there was something iffy or inappropriate about the changes.

The VHSL did not place Sherando, William Fleming or Harrisonburg in a region, and Barbe said he was surprised by that and did not know why that decision hasn’t been made.

Sherando would be the only Frederick County-Winchester school in Group 5A. Millbrook has 1,331 students, James Wood has 1,277 and Handley has 1,227.

“When the final placement is made, wherever we end up, we will continue to do like we always do and play hard,” Barbe said.

It’s not the first time Sherando has moved up in classification. In 1999-2000 and 200-2001, Sherando and James Wood moved to Group AAA, back when there were only three classifications.

Sherando was also slated to move up in 2011, but were able to stay in Group AA due to moving some of its students to James Wood.

“We have been, what I call, a bubble school since the mid-90s,” Barbe said. “We’re always close to being over or under a classification.”

Barbe said that things have changed in the last few years, which will make it easier to move up in classification. Starting in fall 2017, the postseason will begin with regional play, so district play will only be used for regular season play, and have no real effect on the postseason. Currently the postseason starts at the conference level, but the VHSL voted last year to get rid of conferences starting with the fall of 2017.

Sherando will still be in the Northwestern District, which could be a 13-team district. Barbe said if Sherando moves to Group 5A it will still play in the Northwestern District, and will still be playing all of its Frederick County rivals. Barbe said the VHSL should decide on 13-team Northwestern District proposal by no later than Aug. 4.

There were no major changes for any of the other local schools. Skyline and Warren County will still be in Group 3A. They are slated to be in the 14-team Northeast Region along with Armstrong, Brentsville, Culpeper, Hopewell, Thomas Jefferson-Richmond, Manassas Park, John Marshall, James Monroe, William Monroe, Petersburg, Spotsylvania and George Wythe-Richmond.

Strasburg and Central will still be in Group 2A and are expected to be in the 2A North Region. Central, with 773 students, is the second-biggest school in Group 2A. Luray has been moved up to Group 2A, leaving the 2A North Region with 13 teams. The region would consists of Buffalo Gap, Central, Clarke County, East Rockingham, Robert E. Lee, Luray, Madison County, George Mason, Nelson County, Page County, Strasburg, Stuarts Draft and Wilson Memorial.

Stonewall Jackson would still be in Group 1A. The cutoff for Group 1A is 475 students, and Stonewall Jackson has 442. Stonewall Jackson has been placed in Region 1A Mid East along with Altavista, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, William Campbell, Carver College and Career Academy, Central-Lunenburg, Cumberland, Galileo, Rappahannock County and Riverheads.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or