Locker Room: Will River Ridge remain intact?

     It seems almost a certainly that every two years when discussions concerning “Redistricting,” or “Reclassification” take place in the ranks of the Virginia High School League, there is always a bit of turmoil, or something worse than that. Let us hope it’s just a bit this time.

      There are always some schools coming up with reasons why they should be in another district or why they should be allowed to play at another level, and the abundance of political decisions over the years based on the assumption that we should try to make everybody happy has done little more than complicate things. In a nutshell, it doesn’t work.

     The hope here is that one day the VHSL and all its affiliates realize that the best thing to do is put in a system based on the numbers and make it concrete, no exceptions. Will that make everyone happy? No, it most certainly won’t, but at least it would create some consistency which has been lacking for a number of years. It’s impossible to be all things to all people.

       The VHSL is made up of good people, and the principals and athletic directors at the individual schools that make up the VHSL are good people, all just trying to do what they feel is in the best interests of their school, exactly what you or I would do. But that is also what creates the big rub. Everybody wants what is best for them, and should it put some other schools in a hardship, that’s okay, we got what we want.

      That’s nothing more than a glimpse of the real world. Think not?  Just listen to a couple of politicians argue over whatever for an hour one day and you’ll start to wonder how our nation even operates for one day. The most galling thing is the issue usually doesn’t amount to much.

    But in this case that’s not the way it is. It does add up to something pretty big for Pulaski County if it happens. Cave Spring and Hidden Valley are lobbying to leave the River Ridge District and move to the Blue Ridge District. Franklin County, a Class 6 school is also hoping to move from the Piedmont to the Blue Ridge.

      Why? That’s a really good question. I think the main reason is they just don’t want to be in the River Ridge. I think also they might not want to play Salem, Patrick Henry, and Pulaski County in football anymore either. They say should they be allowed to leave the RR they would still entertain playing Pulaski County in football, but if you believe that I hope I’m your next real estate agent.

      If the VHSL allows Cave and HV to move it creates a huge problem for Pulaski County and makes Scott Vest’s job as athletic direction just about the toughest AD job around.

       It’s numbers. If the two schools move to the BR, that leaves the River Ridge with Pulaski County, Salem, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Patrick Henry. There are problems with that. First of all PH is a Class 5 school and likely soon to be Class 6. Carroll County has left the RR for the Three Rivers but is one of those political decisions designed to try and keep everybody happy. Carroll has been allowed to play down. Even though it is a Class 4 school enrollment wise, its future schedules will consist almost totally of Class 2 and 1 schools. This fall is the last time Pulaski County is scheduled to play Carroll, and that’s okay. PCHS was in favor of that. But the stability of a district is a huge concern for the future. You may need all hands on deck. Could Carroll be forced to return to Class 4 in the future? I hope not, but teams need a schedule.

     So what happens if Cave and HV leave, and don’t play the Cougars? Scheduling becomes a huge issue. It’s far more difficult than most realize. Just a quick perspective. Lynchburg and Danville area schools have no scheduling issues, they have plenty of schools to play and do not need to travel all the way to Pulaski County. Teams up in the Valley, Rockbridge to Harrisonburg are scheduled up and do not need to travel. Other than Abingdon being a Class 3 school and already on the schedule, there is no school south of Pulaski County to play. West Virginia schools do not open on the same date as Virginia, they start a week later, making it almost impossible to match dates to schedule a game.

      So that’s the question. In 2019 the Cougars already have games scheduled with Salem, PH, Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Northside, William Byrd, Abingdon, and Bassett. That’s eight. Cave and HV would make 10 and a very solid football schedule, but what happens if Cave and HV are gone? Where do the other two games come from? Byrd is replacing Carroll and Bassett is replacing Wm. Fleming who opted out, deciding not to reschedule PCHS after this fall.

      The issue could be decided on April 25 at the next district meeting. If you’re a Pulaski County football fan you should hope Cave and Hidden Valley decide to stay and those two schools will be met with substantial opposition to the move.  Let us hope the opposition is successful because if it doesn’t work out that way, then some other things are going to have to change. 

      And as usual change usually doesn’t make people happy, and in the long run you almost always find out things would have been better if people had just left well enough alone. If it comes to pass and Cave and HV leave it won’t be the end of the world, there are some options that would be explored, but it certainly would complicate things a great deal.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot