A new proposal being considered by the NCHSAA Realignment Committee would alter the current conference format and eliminate independent schools starting in 2013.
Under the new plan, every NCHSAA member school would be part a conference, and several schools, including Tarboro, would be moved to a new class.
The Vikings, who have won three consecutive state football championships in 2-A, would move down to 1-A if the plan is approved. Tarboro would be in a conference (tentatively named “Conference 9C”) with fellow Twin Counties schools North Edgecombe and Rocky Mount Prep, as well as Riverside-Martin, South Creek and Northampton, the newly merged school of Northampton-East and Northampton West.
“I’ve always never complained about things that are outside of your control,” Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock said. “However (the NCHSAA wants) to do it, that’s how we’ve got to do it. If they say we’re 1-A, by golly, we’re going to try to be the best 1-A football team in the state of North Carolina.”
The Eastern Plains Conference, to which Tarboro and SouthWest Edgecombe belong, would move from seven to six teams, lose three current members and gain two new ones. In addition to Tarboro’s potential change, Greene Central and Kinston would be moved to a different conference alongside two Lenior Country schools, Goldsboro and Ayden-Grifton.
The four remaining schools – SouthWest Edgecombe, Wilson Beddingfield, Farmville Central and North Pitt – would be joined by North Johnston, currently of the 2-A Northern Carolina Conference, and Washington, currently of the 3-A Coastal Conference, to form Conference 14C.
All conferences will be renamed after realignment is complete.
Craddock pointed to the Eastern Plains Conference, which had four teams qualify for the playoffs and two play for state titles, as being part of the reason why the Vikings are so successful in the playoffs.
“I love playing in our 2-A Eastern Plains Conference,” he said. “We had great atmospheres at our games, and I’ll really miss that group of coaches and playing against their teams. Playing in all those big games, when our kids had to go to Kinston or SouthWest Edgecombe, then we got to the playoffs, it was been-there, done-that in important games for most of our guys.”
The six schools from the new conference already have met and discussed the basic framework of the athletics competitions.
SouthWest Edgecombe athletics director Sandra Langley said that the meeting went well, and that she believed the proposal is very likely to pass.
"I think it'll go through, I really do," she said. "When we met, we had a good nucleus of athletics directors. I was very, very pleased with everyone's ability to get along and work together."
A potential hang-up for the new proposal is a separately proposed set of by-laws to the NCHSAA that would bar non-boarding parochial schools and charter schools from competing for state championships with other schools.
The NCHSAA is expected to announce its ruling early next week on the proposed by-law amendments.
Rocky Mount Prep, which is scheduled to begin its first season of varsity football this fall, would be forced to compete against only charter schools starting in 2013 if the amendments pass.
Should the current format hold, the Jaguars were pleased with the opportunity to play in a new conference.
“Man, we’re just excited to be playing football and be part of a conference,” Rocky Mount Prep athletics director Warren Davis said. “We think this would be great for all our sports teams.”
The current Big East Conference, to which the four Nash County public high schools belong, would experience no changes under the proposal.
The Realignment Committee is slated to vote on the proposal on May 12.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or at npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com