Changes coming in 2025-26; local AD’s in favor

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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The North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s recent vote to expand from the current four classifications to eight for the 2025-26 school year will have a positive effect according to the three athletic directors at Beaufort County’s public high schools.

Accordingly, a possible change still in the talking stage would change the local landscape significantly.

NCHSAA member schools passed a bylaw that limits the new classifications to a maximum of 64, while approving four new schools for membership, bringing the total number of schools to 440, which leaves room for future expansion.

“That’s the best part of it for me,” Northside athletic director Jared Adams said. “The state is finally being proactive and leaving room to add schools, which you know is going to happen. This is a welcome change and will give more schools a chance to compete for state championships.”

The new classifications would be based on average daily membership numbers from the 2024-25 school year.

Currently, Northside is around 370 students, while Southside is around 430. Both schools would move to 2A under the new classification system.

“This change is long overdue and puts us in line with other states around us,” Southside athletic director Andrea Quinerly said. “It makes competition fairer when you play similar sized opponents. It should also help with travel time and I don’t see any downside to it.”

Washington is projected to be one of the bigger 3A schools with around 800 students.

“We were for it when the association asked us about it back in the spring and we’re glad expansion passed,” Pam Pack AD Lane Raper said. “It looks good on paper and hopefully it will work on the field.”

Expanding to eight classes coincides with the next realignment, which is done very four years.

A plan still very much in the talking stage would do away with conferences and replace them with districts regardless of classification. One plan being talked about for the East is to have Beaufort, Martin and Pamlico County as a district, which means all three Beaufort County schools would play each other in all sports.

“That would put a whole new face on things,” Northside’s Adams said. “I think the state association feels like there will be too many split conferences with the new classes, so districts would be a better design. There’s still a lot to be worked out, but it would be interesting.”

Northside and Southside are currently in the Coastal Plains 1A/2A conference with East Carteret as the largest school.

“I wouldn’t mind playing Washington,” said Southside’s Quinerly, whose school has never met the Pam Pack on the football field. “It would give all our schools a chance to develop more rivalries and it would be great for the gate. We’re good as long as we keep playing Northside.”