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Posted August 20, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Many changes for local teams this season

By Tommy Keeler Jr. - tkeeler@nvdaily.com

Damien Caison is happy Warren County is in the newly-formed Evergreen District.

The Warren County athlete spent his early years in Fauquier County and knows some of the athletes in its schools.

"The last couple years some of them have been saying 'you guys just got lucky that you don't have to play Liberty or Fauquier,'" Caison said. "We want to show people that we can play with them."

The Wildcats will get that chance this season with the move from the Northwestern District. Warren County will no longer be playing in the same district as Handley, Sherando, James Wood or Millbrook. More importantly, the Wildcats won't be playing in the same district as town-rival Skyline.

Warren County athletics director Jim Grooms considers that to be a good thing.

"With Skyline in the Northwestern and us in the Evergreen it gives us each an opportunity to chase after a different district title in the same sports," Grooms said.

The Evergreen District will consist of Brentsville, Fauquier, Kettle Run, Liberty and Warren County. The Northwestern District will now be Handley, James Wood, Millbrook, Sherando and Skyline.

Warren County's move to the Evergreen District is just one of many changes in the area this season.

Central is also making a big move this year as the Falcons go back down to Group A. They will play in the Shenandoah District along with Stonewall Jackson. The Falcons last played in the district in 2004, before moving to the Northwestern District the last four years.

"We're excited to be going back down," Central athletics director Susan Fleming said. "I think we'll be more competitive. We'll be playing schools that are closer in size to us. I think the kids are really encouraged by this."

Central will be replacing Wilson Memorial, which moved up to Group AA, in the Shenandoah District, while the rest of the teams remain the same.

Another change in football this season is a six-team playoff format in Region II. The playoffs will start a week earlier with the top two teams in each division earning a bye.

In the past there have been quality teams that have missed out on the playoffs with the four-team format.

Briar Woods has moved up to Division 4 this season and with Liberty, a Group AAA state semifinalist last year, dropping back down to Group AA, six playoff teams from last year will be in that region.

"I think it's a good opportunity to get more teams in the playoffs," James Wood coach Mike Bolin said. "I think Division 4 is still going to be really competitive. There's a lot of good teams in the region."

With only five teams in the Northwestern and Evergreen districts, schools will have to play more non-district games.

Many of the Frederick County schools are playing more of the West Virginia area schools, while Grooms said Warren County will be playing more Group A schools.

"I think it gives us a lot of flexibility with our scheduling," Grooms said.

Most of the athletic directors in the area said they had no problems with scheduling and are happy with the changes.

The small districts may not last long. With two new schools -- Woodgrove and Tuscarora -- coming into Loudoun County next year, Grooms said it's possible in two years that more teams will be added to the Northwestern and Evergreen districts.

For the next two years the Northwestern District will feature four Frederick County-Winchester schools, which could make the rivalries even bigger in all sports.

"It gets us more excited to play those games," Handley running back Jeremiah Wilson said of the Northwestern rivalries. "Rivalries are always good, always close games. If we do what we have to do we can come out with a win."

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