Rivalry to be continued

Published 6:05 pm Friday, June 8, 2012

Southside’s Adam Graves (center) slides into home during a game against Northside earlier this year. The Seahawks and Panthers rivalry is scheduled to stay intact until 2018 thanks to the latest NCHSAA realignment. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

The NCHSAA’s recent realignment process has moved both Northside and Southside out of the Four Rivers Conference but not away from each other as the two rivals will remain side by side when they join their new conference at the beginning of the 2013 school year.
Both Northside athletic director Billy Bunn and Southside AD Sean White credited the NCHSAA for understanding the importance of their rivalry and were happy to be sharing the same residency once again.
“It was something they recognized, it was not something that we had to pursue,” Bunn said. “We did ask that they tried to keep our conference schedule similar to what it was so that we played them in rivalry games at the end of the season.”
Both schools will play one more season under the current conference structure, but White said he was thrilled that the Seahawks-Panthers rivalry will extend from 2013-18, when the next realignment process will take place.
“It’s great. Keeping Northside in conference guarantees that we will play them in every sport,” White said. “Whereas, if we were split we would have to try and find dates to schedule each other in every sport but with them being in conference it’s a given that we will play them in every single sport ever single season.”
For the past five years both schools have been a member of the 1-A Four Rivers Conference, which served as a collection of powerhouse schools that routinely produced top contenders in each sport. Aside from Northside and Southside, that conference also included Riverside, Plymouth, Camden, Manteo, South Creek and Perquimans.
Each school took pride in being in one of the best conferences in the East, but playing in that conference served as a blessing and a curse. While the routine day-to-day competition against quality schools helped prepare teams for the playoffs, it also led to a lot of good teams being treated to early postseason exit because they would have to face each other again in the opening rounds of the playoffs.
“Certainly we are going to miss some of the schools that we played,” Bunn said. “The conference has been traditionally strong in just about every sport. I guess the other side of that is that it makes you tougher during the year when you make it to the playoffs, but then you end up competing against each other and knocking each other out during the playoffs. It works for you during the regular season but then it kind of works against you when you get to the playoffs.”
Starting in 2013, Southside and Northside will be joined with East Carteret, Pamlico, Camp Lejeune and Jones Senior in the new conference which has yet to officially be given a name and is simply called “11C” on the NHCSAA website.
Riverside, which flirted with 2-A status, will remain in the 1-A classification and will be joined by its archrival South Creek in the “9C” conference, which includes Northampton, North Edgecombe, Tarboro and Rocky Mount Prep. Plymouth will be part of a larger conference dubbed “10C” which features Camden, Cape Hatteras, Creswell, Columbia, Mattamuskeet, Gates County, Manteo, Ocracoke and Perquimans.
White said that he will no doubt miss competing against the former Four Rivers Conference schools, the programs in the new conference are equally talented.
“We’re going to miss the competitiveness, but that’s not saying that the new conference that we’re going in is not competitive because (those schools) have been competitive,” White said. “East Carteret went to the regionals in basketball this year, Lejeune had a very good season in basketball and Pamlico has had some star players come through and have been very good. In softball Pamlico has been good year in and year out. The conference we’re going into doesn’t have any slouches. Jones Senior played for the 1-A state championship in football.”
The new conference features only six teams compared to the eight that the Four Rivers had and both schools said that they will look to incorporate some of their old rivals into their nonconference scheduling.
While both Bunn and White were both eager to begin new rivalries with their fellow “11C” members, the two ADs viewed their new travel schedules differently.
“I think our only difficulty will be the travel,” Bunn said. “Our nearest school will be Southside which is about 40 minutes away then you got Pamlico which is about over an hour away … It won’t be too bad but (collectively) it’s a little bit further away then what it was.”
For the Seahawks, the realignment tightened the travel loop and was view positively by White.
“Some of the pros of the new conference is that we will have a much closer travel time,” White said. “In the past we might have traveled two-and-a-half hours to Manteo, I think now our longest trip might be to Lejeune which is right at about two hours. Everybody else is within an hour or an hour-and-half.”
With new paths to travel the schools should develop new rivalries, and while both schools will miss their old foes, they are excited to forge new bonds.
“Kids are pretty much the same from school to school and they all want to compete and play hard and from that aspect it should be pretty similar to what we have now,” Bunn said. “We will miss the schools that we’ve played and the rivalries that we developed but we look forward to new rivalries that we will make in the future.”