The 2018-2019 Virginia High School League sports season is in the record books, and with it comes the end of an era of sorts for Halifax County High School sports.
Halifax County High School will drop from Class 5 to Class 4 starting with the upcoming school year. There will be no more facing the Fredericksburg-Northern Virginia area teams like Stone Bridge, Stafford, Potomac, Massaponax and Mountain View as we have done in post-season region tournament play over the past several years – or at least not for awhile.
The Virginia High School League placed Halifax County High School into Class 4 when it finalized its most recent region and district re-alignment several months ago. Halifax County High School’s decline in enrollment, put it into the grouping with Class 4 schools.
From this coming August through the 2022-2023 school year, Halifax County High School will compete in Region 4D. The region will be an eight-school region with Halifax County High School, GW-Danville, E.C. Glass High School, Jefferson Forest High School, Amherst County High School, Salem High School, Blacksburg High School and Pulaski County High School.
Halifax County High School will continue to compete in the Piedmont District as it does now, with the exception that Franklin County High School will no longer be in the district as it has been moved to a district that aligns the school more closely with Roanoke-area schools.
I have had some people remark to me Halifax County High School teams should now have little or no trouble in the win column, and with winning or being in contention to win region championships and state titles in Class 4.
To those of you who feel that way, you need to pause and re-think that thought.
The level of competition Halifax County High School will face in Class 4 and in Class 4 Region D will be every bit as stiff as the competition Halifax County High School has been facing in Class 5. It’s just that you will be seeing a different set of schools in the region alignment.
For instance, in Class 4 football the road to the top goes through annual football powerhouses Salem High School, GW, Jefferson Forest and E.C. Glass. In boys basketball, it’s GW and Jefferson Forest at the top of the hill, with Pulaski County at the top in girls basketball.
Salem is a baseball power as well. In softball this season, Amherst County was region runner-up. Blacksburg and Jefferson Forest are at the top in volleyball. In girls soccer, Jefferson Forest was at the top, and Blacksburg is among the top-tier teams in boys soccer.
The competition will be tough, and Halifax County High School fans should expect that the path to the top in any sport will not be any easier than it has been.
The big upside to Halifax County High School dropping to Class 4 and competing in Region 4D is less travel. There will be no more by-passing Richmond and traveling to Fredericksburg, Stafford and Northern Virginia to play region tournament games as we have done for many years.
Starting in August, the worst trip Halifax County High School will have to make in order to compete in a region tournament game would be to Pulaski County and/or Blacksburg. The closer travel distances will make it a lot more convenient for parents and fans to attend region tournament games than it has been in a long time, and I hope more parents and Comets sports fans will make the trips to support the teams.
When it comes to state tournament play, Halifax County High School will, at some point, have to make trips to venues in the Northern Virginia area or to some other far-away venues to play. That’s fine. You expect to do that when you reach the state tournament level. The good thing is there will be fewer of those long trips.
While the improvement in the travel situation is good for convenience sake, it is also good in that students should not have to miss quite as much class time for travel, and should, in at least some instances, get home a little earlier when they do have to travel. The other good thing is that the school system should be able to see at least a minor reduction in travel costs.
The demographics among the Region 4D schools is another upside. The demographics of Halifax County High School are more closely aligned with those of the Region 4D schools we will compete against than they are with the schools we have competed with in Region 5D.
Another upside is that for those high school sports fans that remember some of the storied battles Halifax County High School had with GW, E.C. Glass and Amherst County High School “back in the day” when the schools were together in the former Western District and Western Valley District, the new alignment will bring back some of those memories and maybe renew some rivalries.
We are at the end of an era, so to speak. But, as with other ventures, a fresh start in a new environment can sometimes open doors to new opportunities and new successes. Hopefully, that will be the case for Halifax County High School and its student-athletes with the move to Class 4.