As the 2016-2017 school year comes to an end, so do many traditions that came along with it. One tradition that is ceasing to continue is the conference tournament that comes at the end of the regular sports season.
Virginia High School League has deemed the conference tournaments unnecessary for the 2017-2018 school year and will be eliminating them as well as district tournaments. Prince George student athletes in the past played only those schools within their district after the regular season.
Since Prince George falls in the Central District, athletes face schools which include: Colonial Heights, Thomas Dale, Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Matoaca, Meadowbrook, Petersburg, and Appomattox Regional Governor’s school (for academic activities only.)
However, with the new schedule, instead of having a district or conference tournament following the regular season, schools will jump straight to regionals.
When it comes to regionals, Prince George falls under Class Five, Region B which consists of a total of fifteen schools. Out of the total fifteen schools, only the top eight will advance to regionals. Hezekiah Butler, the athletic director for PGHS, clarifies the reasoning behind the new schedule and provides insight into student athletes and coaches on what to expect.
“VHSL, two years ago, realized that the realignment that they had set up, five/six years ago, wasn’t quite working. The state was seeing a lot of loss of revenue, as well as some dips in attendance due to everybody being spread out too much,” Butler said.
That wasn’t working out too well for VHSL and hence, a new schedule was formed. Each region had the opportunity to decide what would occur within that region regarding athletic scheduling.
“For us, what was decided for team sports (volleyball, basketball, softball, baseball, team tennis, field hockey) the top eight out of the fifteen schools within the region will advance to the regional tournament,” Butler said.
“How we get to that top eight, that’s really where it gets unique. What is established is a power point system, the same thing football has done for decades.”
“Every game we play will garner points based upon a win/loss and that classification of that school. For example, if we play Matoaca, who are also Class 5, if we win, we earn 32 points, and if we lose, we’d earn 14. If we play in a sport that ends in a tie, we’d earn 23. The further down the classifications we go, the less points we accumulate. Who we play becomes a little more important,” Butler said.
In spite of the initial confusion the new schedule brought, Butler believes that it is more productive, hence his reasoning as to why he doubts VHSL will implement any more major changes within the near future.
“I don’t see, at the moment, VHSL doing another major realignment because they said ten years ago that they were looking at realigning the state and changing it into a six classification system, rather than a three classification system. This is the closest model that, I think, makes the most sense. It’s the closest that they can get to having it right. You’re going to have people upset, you’re going to have situations that, in the end, aren’t really fair, but there isn’t a perfect system. The only thing I can see happening is a school moving up or down a classification based upon major changes in the student population,” Butler said.
Butler sums up the schedule with a few final words.
“It will be a new process, and the math part is going to be the fun part. It’s going to be harder for people to keep up with where we are all sitting postseason play because, at the end of day, you have to win games. You want to get into the postseason, you must win games. You do that and it won’t matter what the numbers come out to be in the end.”