RALEIGH — The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced the second part of the first draft of its planned 2021 realignment Thursday, Dec. 10. Focusing on conference realignment, the proposal follows up the idea that Ashe County High School would move from 2A to 3A from 2021 until 2025.
The proposed conference realignment would see the Huskies leave the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference, a split 1A/2A group, for a conference featuring both 3A and 4A schools.
Currently listed as “Conference 52,” it mainly consists of schools from the Northwestern 3A/4A group, including Watauga High School. Also joining with Ashe would be Hibriten, with the rest of the conference filled out by Freedom High School, Alexander Central and South Caldwell.
“Based on the conference as it’s been proposed, we will have to do a lot of planning because of traveling,” Koontz said.
Koontz pointed to travel costs and the conflicts between travel and class, something he noted when it was proposed Ashe moved to 3A and the possibility of a conference change arose.
According to Google Maps, Watauga is the only school within an hour car ride from ACHS, with Koontz pointing out that a loaded activity bus would take longer. He added that junior varsity girls basketball players, whose game would start at 4 p.m. would have to leave school between 1-2 p.m. and miss a class-and-a-half. Similarily, boys’ varsity games typically end at about 9:30 p.m., meaning they could get back at midnight on a school night.
“We’re also looking at a potential football schedule with five conference games, meaning we’d be scheduling five non-conference games and one would have to be the endowment game,” Koontz said.
He added there is no question ACHS would be giving feedback and voicing their concerns to the NCHSAA. Schools have until Jan. 8, 2021, to file an appeal to the proposals. Two more draft and appeal processes will follow, with the NCHSAA Board voting on a final decision in March.
Ashe Post & Times will provide updates for this story as they are made available.