Changes in Region D could shake up playoffs

HAYSI, Va. — Haysi and Honaker
have been playoff regulars the past couple of decades.
The new and bigger Region D could change that. In Honaker's case, it could
make it even tougher to advance if the Tigers did reach the post-season.
Four new schools which average around 700 students, Lee, Virginia High,
Lebanon and John Battle, join Region D this fall. That forces
Haysi down to the smaller school Division 1, but it leaves Honaker in an even
stronger Division 2.
The changes don't mean Haysi has it made. The Tigers had to deal with
perennial state powers Powell Valley and Gate City in Division 2.
In Division 1, however, J.I. Burton has been to the past three state
finals and Appalachia owns three state crowns from the not-so-distant
"If you go by history you're going to play (J.I. Burton) or Appalachia (in
the playoffs)," Haysi coach James Colley said. "It's going to be
different, but not necessarily easier."
In recent years, the Virginia High School League classification system has gone
from a set cutoff point of 500 for Group A and 1,000 for Group AA to a
fluctuating format that allows the cutoff numbers to increase each year as the
number of large, consolidated schools grows in northern and eastern Virginia.
In addition, schools divided into small and big school divisions within each
region, allowing for example, most of the Division 1 schools in Region B to be
bigger than many of the Division 2 schools in Region D.
Honaker coach Doug Hubbard has been an outspoken critic of the Virginia
High School League's format in recent years.
"We're in now with a lot of schools with 200 and 300 more students than we
have," Hubbard said. "We could easily be 9-1 and sitting at home (in the
post-season). I think there are better ways to do this.
"Going to four or five classes would be better. I think five classes would
even the numbers out a little bit better (across the region and state). That
makes more sense to me."
Colley is no more a fan of larger, former Group AA schools crowding the Group A
ranks than Hubbard.
"We're finally where we should be (in Division 1)," Colley says. "But
the way it is now, a 9-1 team could miss out (on the post-season) in one region
and a 3-7 team could make it.
"I would never say anything about any team making the playoffs, but if a 3-7
team is in the playoffs and a 9-1 team is sitting at home, something's wrong
with the system and the system is the VHSL."
The VHSL has allowed Group A to experiment with divisional play in boys and
girls basketball this winter. Some area school officials are hoping the move is
so popular it might lead to a broader change, perhaps, even in classification,
in a Group 4A and even a 5A.
"We're losing enrollment like everyone else in this area," Hubbard said.
"It makes it tough to compete. Hopefully they'll make a change soon."
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