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Central, Stonewall projected to move up in VHSL classification

Justin Broughman

Central and Stonewall Jackson will likely be moving up a classification starting with the 2019-20 school year.

The Virginia High School League released the most recent average daily membership numbers on Friday and the VHSL staff separated the schools into what will likely be the new classifications. On June 19, the VHSL redistricting and reclassification committee will meet and make the new six classifications official as well as separate all the teams into districts.

The ADM numbers are the average daily attendance from the first day of school to March 31. Central’s ADM number is 770. They would be the fourth-smallest school in Class 3. Robert E. Lee’s ADM number is 732, they are projected to be the largest Class 2 school.

“It’s always better to be the big fish in the small pond than the small fish in the big pond,” Central’s Assistant Athletic Director Justin Broughman said in a phone interview Friday. “But we’ll make it through.”

Broughman will become the Central athletic director on July 1, taking the place of Kenny Rinker who is retiring.

Mike Lenox

Over the years Central has constantly gone back and forth between classifications. The Falcons have been in Class 2 for the last three years.

The Falcons are in the Bull Run District now, but Broughman said that could change if Central moves up. The Bull Run District doesn’t have any Class 3 schools in it.

“If we do go to 3A, we haven’t looked that far into the future, but if we do we’re going to have to eventually play schools that are our size,” Broughman said. “In the Bull Run if they’re all a bunch of 2A schools and (Rappahannock County) is 1A that’s not doing us much good in sports. You might pick up some extra wins, but in the long run, is it really supporting what you need?”

While the Falcons could be moving out of the Bull Run District another Shenandoah County school is headed into the district – Stonewall Jackson. The school has asked to be moved from the Shenandoah District to the Bull Run District and will find out for sure if that’s been approved in late June after the redistricting and reclassification committee meets.

Stonewall Jackson’s ADM number is 499, which is projected to make it the fifth smallest school in Class 2. Any school with a number of 475 or less is automatically a Class 1 school. The rest of the schools in the state are divided by five to separate them into six total classifications.

Stonewall Jackson Athletic Director Mike Lenox said on Friday that he wasn’t surprised at all when he saw the numbers for his school. In Class 1, Region B, they use an all-in system for the playoffs, where every team automatically advances to regionals. In Class 2, Region B, teams have to win in the district tournaments to advance to regionals, and Lenox said he likes that better.

“It’s kind of what we thought was going to happen,” Lenox said. “That’s not going to change anything we do. I think it’s going to make things a little more competitive when it comes to when we go to playoffs. You will have to earn it. Because now it’s kind of all-in and it kind of takes away the specialness of it and hopefully that will kind of bring it back.”

The four other local schools are projected to stay safely in the same classifications they are in right now. Strasburg has an ADM number of 599 and will stay in Class 2, Warren County (814) and Skyline (874) will stay in Class 3 and Sherando (1,476) will stay in Class 4.

Typically the VHSL reclassifies teams every two years, but starting with the next cycle they will only reclassify every four years. So the new classifications will stay in place until the 2023-24 school year.

Broughman said if Central does move to Class 3 and switches districts they will be traveling farther than they are now.

“If we do move to 3A, which I’m highly assuming we will, if we do, our travel distances are going to increase no matter which way we go,” he said. “If we go to (Shenandoah District with) Wilson Memorial, who is moving up or (Valley District with) Fort Defiance, Turner Ashby those are long distances compared to what we do now. And if we go to the Northwestern District then we have to go play schools in Loudoun County and that’s a long distance, too. It’s a lot of issues with it, but it is what it is.”